Off the Shelf: Finding common ground at your library

In the wake of the 2016 General Election, following a campaign that has been termed one of the most divisive in American history, many families, friends, neighbors and community members have found themselves at odds. We’re all wondering, “Where do we go from here? How can we find common ground as a community, and a nation, when our perspectives seem to be so different?”

The public library is one institution that can help bridge the gap. Free speech, equal access for all, and the power of knowledge and understanding, form the philosophical bedrock of the library. Wherever you land on the political spectrum — on the right, left, or somewhere in the middle — NOLS welcomes you, offering access to diverse information and resources, and a neutral gathering place for the free exchange of ideas.

The library collection is filled with materials representing diverse viewpoints and offering opportunities to explore new ideas and different perspectives. In the NOLS collection you’ll find an array of world experiences expressed through books, music and film that address topics like politics, religion, philosophy, current events, social issues, biographies and more. Diversity is fundamental to libraries and ensuring your freedom to explore subject matter as wide-ranging as your curiosity is a core value at NOLS.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few places you might start: If you’re feeling a little crunched for time this season, pick up a newspaper or magazine that you haven’t read before. Consider taking a look at Foreign Affairs, The Week, Time, Harper’s or the weekly edition of the large print New York Times.

All current editions are available to read inside the library while older issues are available for checkout.

If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, cookbooks may be an interesting resource to explore. Cookbooks provide a unique window into different cultures, and making and sharing something delicious is a wonderful gesture of kindness! This year, why not make something special to share with a neighbor you haven’t yet met or one whose political signs were different from yours?

For inspiration, check out “Savory Sweet Life” by Alice Currah. At nearly every potluck I’ve attended lately, I found myself saying, “I found this great recipe in ‘Savory Sweet Life!’”

You also might enjoy “Mamushka,” Olia Hercules’ collection of Ukrainian and Eastern European meals, as well as the artisanal “Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook” by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriquez and the bakers of Hot Bread Kitchen.

Take steps toward finding common ground by visiting your community library. Stop by the Sequim branch to say “Hi” to your friendly library staff, discover something new to read and reach out to someone with a different perspective.

The library is at 630 N. Sequim Ave. and always is open at

Emily Sly is the Sequim Library manager.

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