Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On elections, voting, and libraries

All across the United States, it's election day. In Alaska, it's a particularly heated one with Joe Miller and Scott McAdams on the Senate ballot while Lisa Murkowski desperately holds spelling lessons for the state. It's also the first day with any real/noticeable amount of snow though mostly it's a couple of inches of slush on the roads and in the parking lots.

Despite snow and slush and crazy campaigning (I won't even get started on the people in costumes I saw), I pulled myself up early and stopped to vote today. With elections, I like to either vote on my way into work, or if voting early get a sticker and save it. This allows me to wear my "I voted" sticker all day at the library. As a public servant, someone who works with a lot of youth, it is a chance to very quietly set an example. Voting is very important to me and I haven't missed a single election, no matter how minor, since I turned 18. It might be slightly sanctimonious, but I like to think of myself as a role model for my community. Today I do my best to live up to that by voting and displaying the evidence.

Of course, as a public servant, I am extremely limited in what I can say to the public. Municipality ethic rules specifically forbid me from any sort of campaigning as part of my duties. That means (naturally) that I can't wear a "Vote For X" button while I'm at the library, working the desk, etc. Perfectly logical. However, we're in a very bad budget cycle (when are we not?) and I also can't campaign for the library. The current budget plan is to close one of our branches (not mine) and when patrons come in to ask about it, we're very limited in what we can say. Two years ago when we had a bond issue on the ballot, I could remind people that there was a library issue on the ballot, but I could not tell ask them to vote for it. I can't write a letter to the editor and sign it with my name and position. We can't display any information about the library budget that asks a voter to take action (such as voting one way or contacting a legislator). And on and on and on the rules go. It can be maddeningly frustrating when an issue affects your very job and you can't ask the person on the other side of the desk to please email their assembly representative.

No solutions, no real complaints, only musings on a snowy election day.

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