The New Holstein Public Library will be hosting a mayoral candidate Town Hall meeting on Tuesday February 11th at 6 p.m. in advance of the primary which will take place on February 18th.
In a slightly unique format, the three candidates for New Holstein mayor: incumbent Dianne Reese and challengers, Jeff Hebl and Mike Jacobson, will be at the library answering questions submitted by the public in advance. At the end of the question portion, there will be a 20-30 minute opportunity for people to speak one on one with the candidates and express the community issues that are important to them. We will record the question portion and it will be available on our website and Facebook page in the days after the town hall.
Many people have asked why the library would host such an event, and we thought this would be a fun opportunity to offer some interesting and maybe even little-known history of the public library in America!
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the public school had taken hold in American culture as an inalienable right. Running parallel to this concept was an innovation for adults: lifelong education and equitable access to information in the form of public libraries which would be for all the people. Libraries had previously been elitist or academic in nature, accessible to members only (often just men!). The public library would be a place of advancement for everyone.
Since their inception, public libraries have been tied to democracy. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said of our institutions:
“Libraries are directly and immediately involved in the conflict which divides our world, and for two reasons; first, because they are essential to the functioning of a democratic society; second, because the contemporary conflict touches the integrity of scholarship, the freedom of the mind, and even the survival of culture, and libraries are the great tools of scholarship, the great repositories of culture, and the great symbols of the freedom of the mind.”
Throughout the early 20th century, public libraries continued to evolve along with the culture and community needs to become what they are today. Early libraries, while attempting to curate knowledge for the masses, still engaged in some ‘censorship’ and exclusionary practices. Much of this changed only after World War I (and not officially with the American Library Association until the 1930s in response to fascism and book burnings) with the rise of popular literature of ‘questionable value’ and librarians facing the democratic responsibility to present full and complete information to people. It was really then that libraries made a very conscious choice to be places free of censorship, as neutral as possible, representing all views within their walls without judging the content or subject matter that each person may desire access to.
Public libraries have long been interested in providing access to information to the community, and are additionally one of the few remaining institutions that try to remain truly neutral—everyone is welcome at the library! What better institution to provide a public forum for the democratic process?—And what a great opportunity to get to know your candidates for mayor!
If you would like to submit a question for the candidates, please email our Director, D Hankins, at firstname.lastname@example.org or come into the library. We will accept questions relevant to all three candidates (no direct, one-candidate questions will be asked).