As you may have read in this very newspaper, our library colleagues in Citrus County recently made national news when their efforts to provide a digital subscription to the New York Times was rejected by their Board of County Commissioners, not based on budgetary constraints but rather based on the political stance of the commissioners. A design firm in Tampa immediately stepped in and offered to pay for the subscription, but the bigger issue is not the invoice being paid, it is what libraries are and the role they play in supporting a robust democracy.
Libraries are not neutral, in that they operate on defined principles of open and equal access, free press, free speech, and the idea that a well and broadly informed populace is essential to a strong democracy. What libraries are is staunchly nonpartisan, and that is the key to the trust that the public places in their local library. At Elsie Quirk, our doors are open wide to the entire community; we are here not to promote a given political or social viewpoint, but to provide access to a broad and deep range of resources for knowledge, insight, entertainment, and critical thought.
We are also here to help patrons navigate the morass of data, information, and opinion that has become a constant in our daily lives—to provide useful tools for drawing one’s own nuanced and well-informed conclusions. The events in Citrus County speak to this need, as the argument against the digital subscription hinged on the reliability and value, or lack thereof, of the New York Times as a news source. We are in a time when it is difficult to sort out news from opinion, valid facts from bias, and we are pushed to take polarized positions rather than consider broad perspectives. Many of us question which media sources to trust and how to find reliable, accurate information. Libraries are a beacon in this storm, and we at Elsie Quirk invite you to visit our newspaper and magazine section to explore current events from a full scope of sources. To ask our librarians how to fact check a viral social media post or a story you heard on the radio. To make full use of the digital resources your library card provides access to from the comfort of your home. And to check out our “Confused by the News” handout that serves as a guide to assessing news providers. As Walter Cronkite said, “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” At Elsie Quirk, we know that we are fortunate to be amidst an actively involved, sincerely concerned community—it is our privilege to support the continued learning and engaged thinking of our entire spectrum of patrons.
This week’s events:
- Spanish Study Group 10:15 a.m.
- Genealogy Research, Introductory Class 10 a.m. – Noon. Research your family genealogy online through Ancestry and Heritage Quest. Bring along your family names, dates and locations of your ancestors. Registration is required.
- Genealogy Research, Advanced Class 1 – 3 p.m. Research your family genealogy online through Ancestry and Heritage Quest. Bring along your family names, dates and locations of your ancestors. Registration is required.
- LEGO Club 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Children ages 5 to 12 will have fun getting together with others and sharing ideas, working together, and making new friends. LEGO bricks will be provided – bring your imagination. LEGO creations will be on display in the library until the next meeting date.
- Forty Carrots Partners in Play 10:15 a.m. OR 11:45 a.m. For children, up to age 5 with a parent or caregiver. A free class for you and your child to enjoy together. Experience new educational activities, join in circle-time fun, meet other families and receive valuable parenting and child development information. Attendance is limited to 12 families per session.
- Monday Night Movies 5 p.m.
- Master Gardener Plant Clinic 10 a.m. – Noon. Get free answers to your Florida gardening and landscaping questions. This is made possible through a partnership with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County.
- Teen Advisory Board 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. For ages 11-18. Join the Teen Advisory Board (T.A.B.) to have a voice in the programs and services offered at Elsie Quirk.
- The Reading Discussion Group 10:15 a.m. – Noon. The title for November is “Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom.
- Family Storytime 10:30 a.m. For ages 0-5. Interact and participate with your child in a variety of early literacy and school readiness activities that feature stories, music and movement, and crafts.