Gold and blue triangle

Exploring Democracy with Iredell County Public Library

Child Stands in front of Voices and Votes exhibtiion

North Carolina Humanities is proud to present the Smithsonian Institution exhibition “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America”. From revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story – the story of democracy in America.

Six venues were selected by NC Humanities to host the exhibition around North Carolina in 2024-2025. As it travels, we are speaking with team members from each tour stop to discuss local issues, history, people, and stories, and learn what visitors can expect to experience when they visit the exhibition in their space.

“Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” is on display at Iredell County Public Library in Statesville, North Carolina from April 17 – May 28, 2024. To learn more about how to visit the exhibition and attend related events and programs in Statesville, please visit:

The tour begins at Iredell County Public Library in Statesville. From there, the exhibition travels to Southwest Brunswick Branch Library in Carolina Shores, Cumberland County Public Library in Fayetteville, Alamance Community College in Graham, and Appalachian State University in Boone. The tour concludes at Henderson County Public Library in Hendersonville in January 2025.

We connected with Juli Moore, Director of Iredell County Public Library, and Amanda Cain, Assistant Director of Iredell County Public Library, to learn more.

Why did you apply to host this exhibition from North Carolina Humanities?

Juli: Iredell County Public Library’s main branch is in Statesville, but we serve everyone in Iredell County. Our county’s very diverse in nature. Most of the county is suburban, but the southern end is close to Charlotte and the northern end of the county, by Yadkin County, is rural. I grew up in Virginia, so as a child I spent a lot of time at the Smithsonian museums, but there are a lot of people in Statesville that have never been to Washington D.C. or if they have, they haven’t been to the Smithsonian. Having worked with North Carolina Humanities before, we knew this tour was going to be successful. It’s a great opportunity to share the high-quality, national resources of the Smithsonian in our local community. For some, books are the only way they travel and experience other cultures and ideas, so this exhibition is an incredible opportunity we now get to offer our library visitors.

Amanda: I am one of those people who has never visited the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C! It’s never been on my radar, and I know that many people in the community will never see anything like this exhibition unless we bring it to the library. It’s been great working with North Carolina Humanities to do so.

What can people expect when they visit the Library to see “Voices and Votes”? What related programs are you offering?

Giveaway bag with books and notepads

Amanda: In terms of programming, we had a Q&A session with our local Board of Elections so people could come into the library and ask them questions. On May 13 we’re hosting a book discussion about the first seven chapters of What You Need to Know About Voting and Why by Kim Wehle. When you sign up for the book discussion, you get a copy of the book and a cool swag bag to go along with that! Our Local History Librarian, Joel Reese, is also hosting a program on May 14 called “Politics and Newspapers in Iredell County” that will highlight the variety of newspapers in our county over the years and the role they played in politics. Finally, we’re bringing back the Board of Elections to have two separate sessions where citizens can get a photo ID for voting.

Juli: Half of the “Voices and Vote” exhibition is on the main floor of the library and the other half is on the upper level. On the main floor we’ll have a display of books related to voting and democracy that people can check out and on the second floor we have local memorabilia on display like old voter books and records, as well as newspaper clippings we have made into posters with important election results listed. We also have coloring books courtesy of the Board of Elections for kids! We also want to engage the community in conversation, so we have two places for people to respond to the questions: “How long have you lived in Iredell County? And if you moved here, where did you move from?” and then “What did you learn after viewing the ‘Voices and Votes’ exhibition?”  

America has often been called a melting pot since there are a lot of diverse perspectives and people that make up our society. How is the Library helping serve diverse audiences?

Juli: I love that we’re able to have an impact on our community by providing new programs and services to meet needs. Iredell County has grown by 70,000 people in the last 20 years, with many people moving here from different places. With this movement, Statesville is becoming a more diverse community. People are bringing their traditions, cultures, foods, and lived experiences with them, which I think is a benefit for our community. Our differences make us a stronger society. At the library we’re here to help the community in ways that they want and tell us they need. We really try to serve everyone. We take books to nursing homes, help people with their printer jams, we’ve even started a seed library! In all we do we promote a love of learning and reading.

Amanda: The library is really one of the last places you can go and do all the things you need to do at no- or low-cost. You can come and spend your whole day here and you’re not required to buy books or pay to use the computer. Libraries are an important public service.

About the exhibition: “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” is part of Museum on Main Street (MoMS), a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, including North Carolina Humanities, and local host institutions. “Voices and Votes” is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. called “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith”. North Carolina Humanities has worked with SITES for over a decade to bring MoMS exhibitions to North Carolina’s small towns and rural communities. Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Thank you to our 2024-2024 statewide tour sponsors, Our State Magazine, the National Humanities Center, and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, as well as the many local sponsors supporting the exhibit in their community. A full tour itinerary is available at North Carolina Humanities is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo Credits: Iredell County Public Library