Civic Literacy and Your Library

Posted on October 2, 2017

by Melissa J

How do you know whether or not the information you have is credible, accurate, or true? This is the challenge in the age of information overload and FAKE NEWS. Your public library takes this issue very seriously, because our mission is to help the citizenry stay informed. And the degree to which that information is credible, accurate, or true is the degree to which the engine of democracy sputters or runs well. Librarians know that finding quality information can be daunting, so we pulled together a selection of non-partisan resources to assist you.
Vote - wood scrabble pieces (Pixabay image)


Did you know that you can register to vote at any Toledo Lucas County Public Library location?

Check out our locations to find the library closest to you.

Don’t forget to also check out these great resources:

State of Ohio – Voter Toolkit

Michigan – Voter Information Center

Choice (Pixabay image 2692575)


Who and what is on the ballot? Once you are registered to vote, how do you find out who the candidates are? What issues are on the ballot and what they mean?

The Lucas County Board of Elections provides a list of all the folks who are running for office on their website.

You can also contact them directly:

Lucas County Board of Elections One Government Center, Suite 300 Toledo, Ohio 43604 (419) 213-4001

But who are these people running for office, you might ask. How do I decide who to vote for in the upcoming election?

Ballotpedia: Provides information on elections, ballot measures, and public policy. Find out more about local and regional candidates by using your address.

Vote Smart: A non partisan organization whose primary goal is to educate voters. You can enter information about your position and it will help you figure out who you might want to vote for.

Judicial Votes Count: Who are the judges on the ballot?

Question Marks over a city (Pixabay image 2153516)


To find out what the ballot issues are in Lucas County, visit the Lucas County Board of Elections website.

And again, you may be asking, what do these issues mean?

Here are a few resources that may help:

Vote411: Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October of 2006, VOTE411 is a “one-stop-shop” for election related information. It provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information on the various aspects of the election process.

Ballotpedia: Provides neutral, accurate, and verifiable information on local, state, and federal government officials and the offices they hold.

Ohio on Ballotpedia

Michigan on Ballotpedia

League of Women Voters (LWV): They operate at national, state and local levels through more than 800 state and local Leagues. Formed from the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the centerpiece of the League’s efforts remain to expand participation and give a voice to all Americans through education and advocacy.

League of Women Voters of Toledo Lucas County

League of Women Voters in Ohio

League of Women Voters in Michigan

Magnifying glass - Facts (Pixabay image 1607160)

What about all the information and rumors people talk about regularly? How can I know if the information is accurate and the source is credible?

Here are some other places to check:

     Snopes: Investigate those rumors and urban legends on this site.

     Factcheck: Look into political or government information here.

     Politifact: Check out the truth-o-meter and find out who is telling the truth or only telling part of the story.

     Media Bias Fact Check: Explore this site to find out about the bias of the information sources you access.

Put it to the CRAAP Test:

  • Currency: Can you find a date of the article or photograph? When was it last updated?
  • Relevance: Who is the intended audience? How does the source meet your needs?
  • Accuracy: Is the information supported by evidence? Does it cite other sources?
  • Authority: Who is the author? What are their credentials?
  • Purpose: Does the site give facts or opinions? Does it have a clear bias?

Source: Is It True? Try These Fact-Checking Websites and Resources – Arlington Heights Memorial Library


Public libraries understand the frustration many people experience trying to find quality information online, especially when attempting to make informed decisions about our government and how to vote. That’s one of the many reasons public libraries are so important.

As stated previously, the degree to which the information we have access to is credible, accurate, or true is the degree to which the engine of democracy sputters or runs well. Let’s get our engine oiled up to run well. Get civically engaged & get to the public library.

“Libraries are…essential to the functioning of a democratic society…. libraries are the great symbols of the freedom of the mind.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Source: Quotes about Libraries and Democracy, ALA (American Library Association)

“As knowledge becomes increasingly a source of power, the struggle regarding its accessibility and use becomes more and more central to democracy. The success of contemporary citizen activism in a variety of contexts depends upon the ability to ferret out key information, often against the efforts of powerful interests to restrict information access. From the parent who worries about local school dropout rates to the rancher fighting to preserve the open range from energy conglomerates, from community activists organizing around toxic waste to small businesspeople trying to increase the pool of resources available in their areas for entrepreneurial start-up projects, people need information to act. They also need ‘knowledge’—the organizational and communicative skills to organize. Studies of grass-roots leaders have found that the most successful have developed considerable talents at gaining access to information and to the organizing skills that facilitate action.” ~ Harry C. Boyte.

Source: CommonWealth: A Return to Citizen Politics by Harry Boyte. Free Press, 1989, pp.10-11.

“If information is the currency of democracy, then libraries are its banks.” ~ Senator Wendell Ford, 1998 ALA Annual Conference

Source: Quotes about Libraries and Democracy, ALA (American Library Association)

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