Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Place for Voters to Get Smarter; Information Access; Public Libraries Are a Trusted Source for Research on Candidates and Issues; OTHER VIEWS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Place for Voters to Get Smarter; Information Access; Public Libraries Are a Trusted Source for Research on Candidates and Issues; OTHER VIEWS

Article excerpt

My great-grandmother used to admonish me with her bits of folksy wisdom. Born in an era before the superabundance of information, she loved to learn. Even as a child, I remember her saying, "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see." If the polls are right, then this year's election will be close. Sources vary, but recent surveys indicate that only 5 percent of voters are undecided. Was there ever a doubt? Let's face it; the past 12 years have been both contentious and divisive - a terrorist attack that killed more people than Pearl Harbor, two wars, a Great Recession and countless pieces of unwanted legislation.

So, here we are on the precipice of a post-Citizens United world, where political groups can spend unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their sources. Considering the country's state of mind, the political stakes and an influx of Super PAC money, it appears that my grandmother was right.

Fortunately, there is a place to get away from the incessant campaigning; where you can relax in a quiet environment to figure out things like that privileged group - the 5 percent. A place that is open to the community and provides nonpartisan research assistance.

Public libraries aren't perfect, but in an age of information overload they are a rarity - a trusted government institution. A 2008 Institute of Museum and Library Services study, for example, found that, "Among other sources, public trust in cultural institutions is very strong: 86% of public library visitors and 77% of museum visitors rated them equal or higher in trustworthiness than all other sources of information. …

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