In today’s digital age, access to information is key to empowering citizens and fostering democracy. With the upcoming elections, staying informed about candidates and issues is more important than ever. That’s why libraries like the Harris County Public Library (HCPL) in Texas are taking innovative steps to ensure that everyone has access to crucial voter resources.  

After first hearing about the power of Local Content at Digipalooza, HCPL partnered with the League of Women Voters of Houston to make it easier for residents to participate actively in the democratic process by providing access to English and Spanish voter guides in the Libby app.  

The importance of local voter guides 

Local elections often have a significant impact on communities, influencing policies and decisions that directly affect residents’ daily lives. However, finding reliable information about local candidates and ballot measures can be challenging. Traditional sources of information may not always provide comprehensive coverage of local races, leaving voters feeling uninformed or uncertain about their choices. 

This is where local voter guides play a crucial role. The guides provided by the League of Women Voters compile essential information about candidates, their platforms and key issues, helping voters make decisions at the ballot box. A nonpartisan organization, the League of Women Voters does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. Their mission is to inform citizens and encourage active participation in government.  

By providing access to these voter guides, HCPL is encourage citizens to engage meaningfully in the democratic process and have a voice in shaping their communities.  

Leveraging OverDrive’s Local Content feature  

Local Content allows libraries to upload their own ebooks and audiobooks to their digital collection and make them available to readers through Libby (note: to publish your own content, you must have the necessary ownership rights). 

With the help of their OverDrive team, HCPL has integrated voter guides into Libby through Local Content, making them easily available to all residents. This innovative approach leverages technology to overcome barriers to access and reach a broader audience. In addition, by providing guides in both English and Spanish, Harris County is able to meet the needs of its diverse service population.

Accessing the voter guides through Libby also addresses accessibility needs. Users can increase the font size in the app and the audiobook version provides a more inclusive experience for those who prefer to listen. 

Promotion of the availability of voter guides in Libby, via the League of Women Voters of Houston newsletter

Empowering community engagement 

By offering local voter guides through Libby, HCPL is not only providing valuable information but also encouraging community engagement. The convenience of accessing voter resources from a mobile device makes it easier for residents to stay up-to-date on issues and candidates and participate actively in the electoral process. 

Libby serves as a centralized platform where users can discover and access a wide range of digital resources, including ebooks, audiobooks, and now, local voter guides. By incorporating voter guides into an app that patrons already use regularly, HCPL ensures that crucial election information is just a few taps away for anyone with a library card. 

As we approach the next election cycle, it’s essential to remember the critical role that libraries play in promoting democracy and civic engagement. By making local voter guides available in Libby, the Harris County Public Library is providing equitable access to information and enabling residents to exercise their right to vote. 

Interested in learning more? Reach out to your OverDrive Account Manager to discover what Local Content can do for your library. 

About the author: Jill Grunenwald is a Marketing & Communications Specialist on the North America Public Library Marketing Team. A former librarian, she joined OverDrive in 2015. Outside of the office she can be found writing, hanging out with her cats, collecting more Tarot decks than she has room for, and playing competitive pinball. Her favorite genre is something she calls “Murder at an educational institution that involves a close-knit group of suspicious characters.”