Public Libraries for Bipartisanship

By Laurin Schwab — August 2, 2019

As political polarization hammers away at families, workplaces, and government, policymakers must think quickly and critically about ways to bring Americans back together. One solution lies in an oft-overlooked, time-honored American resource: U.S. public libraries.


Our Solutions In Brief

1. New Grant Program for the IMLS

Tapping local public libraries in the fight against polarization, Washington could provide funds for a specifically bipartisan-focused grant program at the IMLS. Titled Public Libraries for Bipartisanship, the program would empower local libraries to implement workshops designed to engage their communities in bipartisanship. These would include forums for neighbors to engage in spirited public debate, gain exposure to a wide array of political opinions, and acquire the tools for navigating our increasingly complex digital information landscape.

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Facts At-A-Glance

  • In a 2019, 20% of Democrats and 15% of Republicans

    Answered “yes” to the question, “Do you ever think: we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of [Opposing party] in the public today just died?”

  • In 2016, 77%

    of both Republicans and Democrats had a spouse or partner of the same political party

  • In 2016, more than 27%

    of voters lived in a precinct that swung three-quarters or more toward the same presidential candidate

  • In a 2016 survey by Pew Research,

    46% of Republicans stereotyped Democrats as lazy while 70% of Democrats stereotyped Republicans as close-minded.

  • 49% of U.S. Adults

    say they often get their news from TV

  • 16% of Americans

    stopped talking to a family member or close friend as a result of the 2016 election

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