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People hold American flags as they take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the Gwinnett County Public Library in Georgia.
People hold American flags as they take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the Gwinnett County Public Library in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Library.

IMLS has a proud legacy of supporting the critical work that museums and libraries do to engage the citizens in their communities and expand access to and information on voting.

As two of the most trusted institutions in the U.S., libraries and museums have long served various communities on a national, state, and local level, including providing civic education, educational programs about democracy, and offering their facilities as voter polling places and for American citizen naturalization ceremonies.

For more information, including forthcoming resources for museums and libraries, please subscribe to IMLS updates.

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Executive Order

On March 7, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting. The Executive Order recognizes that the right to vote is the foundation of American democracy and the responsibility of the Federal Government to expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information, and to combat misinformation, in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.

On September 28, 2021, and in response to the Executive Order, the White House called upon IMLS to “create and distribute a toolkit of resources and strategies that libraries, museums, and heritage and cultural institutions can use to promote civic engagement and participation in the voting process.”


  • America250 is the nationwide commemoration of America’s 250th anniversary in 2026, led by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. IMLS and other public and private partners are working to create initiatives and programs that honor our first 250 years and inspire Americans to imagine our next 250.

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and IMLS have worked together since 2013 to help libraries and museums provide accurate and useful information about immigration and citizenship benefits through a series of free webinars.

Examples of IMLS Funding for Civic Engagement


  • The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston is expanding access to its immersive civics learning experience to educators for incorporating into their classrooms. The museum is developing and testing digital tools to allow students to participate from their classrooms in a Senate debate on a real-life bill based on its "Today's Vote in the Classroom" program, currently offered on-site in its full-scale reproduction of the United States Senate Chamber. Project activities will involve the development of a web portal prototype, and the design and production of instructional video and web tools.

  • The Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana in California is developing visual arts exhibitions and related public programs to engage people in civic dialogue. The project aims to create a new cultural model for an arts center where residents see the arts as a catalyst for civic engagement and community transformation. The museum also will build a paid curatorial internship program for students of color to cement its role as a strong community anchor grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience in the San Jose/Silicon Valley region. The exhibitions are expected to attract up to 21,000 visitors annually and reach approximately 30,000 community members in-person or virtually through 50 programming events.


  • The Leventhal Map and Education Center at Boston Public Library is fostering increased critical thinking and visual information literacy skills through an initiative focused on how maps influence ideas, emotions, and opinions. A six-month-long exhibition, titled Persuasion, will feature maps dating from the 15th century to the present. The initiative also included a series of public talks with scholars, workshops for adults, and K to 12 programs. The exhibition was presented during the 2020 presidential election season when voting and other data maps were an active part of the public discourse.

State Libraries

  • Alaska: The Alaska State Library has a Disability Voter Toolkit

  • Arizona: The Arizona State Library implemented their Kids Voting AZ

  • California: In 2019, they led a voting workshop series for adult learners. Materials available include a Voting Participation Toolkit and an Easy Voter Guide.

  • Illinois: Joliet Public Library offers voter registration, and Skokie Public Library has a voter information page.

  • Minnesota: The State Library partnered with the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State to provide a voter information webinar to public librarians statewide and to provide weekly email updates on the 2020 general election beginning in early September to support voter turnout.

  • New York: The New York Public Library released a 2020 election reading list.

  • North Carolina: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill posted “Voting Questions? University Libraries Can Help,” about the 2020 election process.

  • Ohio: The Cincinnati Public Library teamed up with local partners to get out the vote.

  • Oklahoma: Public Libraries and Elections” lists 17 Oklahoma libraries that served as polling places for the November 3, 2020, General Election.

  • South Carolina: Charleston County Public Library has a Voting Information Center webpage with videos on how to find a polling place, how to fill out a ballot, become a poll worker, etc.). They also helped engage voters during National Voter Registration Month in September 2021.

  • Tennessee: Using Libraries to Ignite Voter and Community Agency, a project from Cositt Library, Memphis, was a nonpartisan civics workshop created by Vote by Design with students from across the city.

  • Texas: The El Paso Public Library created a Pop-Up Civics Lab (PUCL) which is a mobile, multigenerational, bilingual library experience that introduces civic literacy to El Paso families. Each PUCL module has age-appropriate, bilingual materials and media on subjects relating to government, voting, citizenship, civil rights, American history, and other related topics. The PUCL was set up at locations around the city to engage with El Pasoans of all ages. The topics presented generated discussion between adults, children and teens in a safe, non-judgmental space that encourages critical thinking. Assistance on providing non-partisan civics information was provided by the League of Women Voters of El Paso.

Examples from the Library and Museum Fields

Providing Voter Registration

  • Beginning in 2008, the Hammer Museum at the University of California Los Angeles began placing voter registration cards at prominent locations around the museum, and in 2018 became an official polling place in Los Angeles.

  • The Oakland Museum partners with the League of Women Voters to register voters during its Friday evening family events.

Serving as a Polling Place

  • Museums as Polling Sites: How Your Organization Can Serve Voters,” a technical leaflet on how to turn a historic site into a polling place, is available from the American Association for State and Local History.

  • The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) transformed its prominent glass-walled Stenn Gallery into a satellite Ann Arbor City Clerk’s office, making the work of administering the election and managing voter rolls and absentee ballots a publicly visible, transparent undertaking. The opening of the Clerk’s Office at UMMA also allowed on-site voter registration, absentee ballot requests, and early voting. Over the course of the project, 5,412 new voters were registered and 8,500 votes were cast at the museum.

Exhibits and Programs

  • The Corning Museum of Glass in New York featured Connected by Glass: Election Transparency.

  • The Frist Art Museum in Tennessee exhibited We Count: First-Time Voters, which highlights the history of voting and the first-time voting experiences of a diverse group of Nashville.

  • The University of Michigan Museum of Art partnered with the U-M Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning to develop a free online, interactive Dialogue Deck exercise that uses art as a platform to examine and explore social and political norms through shared dialogue and reflection. Visitors to the site can select an image from the Museum’s collection which will be randomly paired with a series of thought-provoking conversation prompts. The prompts, paired randomly with the works of art, are designed to help visitors have conversations and productive dialogues across differences.

Providing Information in Other Languages

  • In 1975, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) to require that covered states or political subdivisions provide registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, in the language of applicable minority groups as well as in the English language. Under these language minority provisions, any county with more than 10,000 residents whose native language is not English and who indicated on their U.S. Census form a lack of proficiency in English, is required to provide election materials in the identified languages. The Los Angeles County Multilingual Services Program represents one example of the language assistance that is available to voters under the VRA.

  • The United States Election Assistance Commission is an independent bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). HAVA addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election. The EAC website’s compilation of Election Management Resources includes a Language Access section that lists a variety of federal, state, and local jurisdictional resources to assist citizens for whom English is a second language.

Resources for Libraries and Museums

Government Information

  • vote.gov is the federal government site that provides the most recent information by state about voter requirements, registration, and absentee voting, including for local elections.

Non-Profit Organizations

  • vote.org provides similar information to Vote.gov, including links to voting information at all levels. They also have embedded forms that organizations can use to assist voters with registration.

  • The League of Women Voters, founded in 1920 supports voter registration, access, and education. Through their website, org, they’ve committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to successfully participate in every election. Their informational YouTube channel has several useful playlists on voter information, for example.

  • Rock the Vote has many resources and initiatives aimed at younger voters, especially millennials and Gen Z.

  • iCivics champions equitable, non-partisan civic education so that the practice of democracy is learned by each new generation. They work to inspire life-long civic engagement by providing high-quality and engaging civics resources to teachers and students across the nation.

Library Associations

Museum Associations

Accessibility Resources for Voters with Disabilities

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that provides protections to people with disabilities that are similar to protections provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA website is managed by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and provides guidance on how the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws help ensure fairness in the voting process for people with disabilities.

  • The United States Election Assistance Commission is an independent bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). HAVA addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election. EAC’s Voting Accessibility page compiles multiple resources relating to voters with disabilities and their rights under HAVA and other federal legislation.

  • The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a non-profit organization that advocates for full civil rights for over 60 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation. AAPD’s Voter Resource Center compiles various resources to help visitors register to vote, learn about the issues, and organize the disability vote. AAPD also leads the REV UP Voting Campaign, which seeks to foster civic engagement, protect the voting rights of Americans with disabilities, and maintain a network composed of grassroots coalitions and partner organizations that work to advance the Disability Vote.

Resources listed above provide examples of how libraries and museums are supporting civic engagement and voter participation in their communities.  This list is not exhaustive, but rather reflects some of the many resources available. If you have additional examples, please email imlsnews@imls.gov.