As the country prepares for a historic election in November 2020, Americans are continuing to navigate the implications and effects of this unprecedented time in American history – consisting of a global pandemic, record-high unemployment rates, and tense race relations.
In this time of crisis, it is imperative that our leaders at the federal, state, and local levels, along with community members, set an agenda and allocate a corresponding budget that prioritizes the public’s best interests on the issues of health care; economic security and opportunity; and education. Access to public and private libraries are integral to community development as well as to employment and educational opportunities, and it is time to recognize their fundamental roles in communities and fight to make sure they receive adequate support.
We know from research published before the outbreak of COVID-19 that Americans overwhelmingly support public libraries and view them as equalizers in their communities. In addition to providing access to books, online resources, and other academic tools to all people and children, libraries act as community centers that encourage community engagement and protect vulnerable populations, offer resources for employment including opportunities to fill out applications and develop resumes, and provide internet access to those who may otherwise not have it. In the current times of dealing with the repercussions of COVID-19 and police brutality, it is evident that gaps are widening based on income, race, and gender when it comes to access to internet and online resources, as well as employment and educational opportunities. There is an enormous opportunity for libraries to advocate for their role in the solutions to these disparities and to continue to be examples of equality and progress, as they have been for so long.
During this presentation, Celinda Lake – a nationally recognized pollster and political strategist – will explain the mood of the nation and public attitudes toward the upcoming election, current crises, national issues, and policy priorities. She will also dive into public opinion data on libraries and describe how the public viewed them pre-COVID as well as providing insight on the important role they can continue to play in our country at this moment.
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Celinda Lake is a prominent pollster and political strategist for progressives. She is the founder and president of Lake Research Partners, where she serves as a tactician and senior advisor to a wide range of foundations, advocacy groups, labor unions, non-profits, government agencies, and universities. She is known for cutting edge research on issues including the economy, health care, the environment, and education, and has worked on innovative messaging projects that helped redefine language on race and class; the economy; inequality; big money in politics; climate change; public schools; teachers; reproductive health and rights; and criminal justice reform. An expert on women's attitudes, Lake co-authored the book What Women Really Want with former Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, which examines the way women are changing the political landscape in America, and she also served as pollster for Vice President Joe Biden's 2008 presidential bid.