Library Design and Accessibility

What I Learned in a Library Renovation

A concerted effort by librarians in my school district, Williamsville Central Schools, to upgrade our library facilities finally bore fruit when I was given the given the opportunity to renovate the library at Heim Middle School, where I have been the librarian for more than twenty years. I was fortunate enough to be able to select both new furniture and carpeting. The furniture in the library was original to the opening of the school in 1965 (first named North Forest Junior High), and the carpeting was from the late 1990s. In thinking about the future of the library, planning for flexible use of the space as well as creating a variety of zones for various activities (e.g.: class space, quiet reading, collaborative small group work space) was paramount. The process has taken close to an entire calendar year, and the results have been amazing! Feedback from our students and staff have been…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Rethinking Summer Library Programs….in November

Summer 2017 may be over, but Summer 2018 planning has only just begun…we know it to be true!  Our Summer Library Programs may be just 10 weeks out of the year, but program planning is perennial.  We design our summer library programs to be engaging and impactful, and we care deeply that the kids in our communities have a positive experience.  But let’s face it–it takes time to do that effectively. So, earlier this month, 60 passionate Youth Librarians in Wisconsin got a jump-start on rethinking their summer library programs.  And it was at their annual YS workshop where I had the pleasure of facilitating a lively discussion about accessibility and inclusion for youth with disabilities in summer library programs. Before redesigning your library’s summer program, it’s important to consider the big picture at the very beginning of planning.  What is your overall goal in providing this summer library program…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Library Accessibility in 140 Characters or Less

Twitter is one of my favorite places to connect with other librarians.  As a tweeting youth services librarian, I experience a strong sense of community with the “Twitterbrarian” youth services community.  I am always learning–and often inspired by–what others tweet, retweet, like, or post. Many of the librarians I follow share my common interest in making libraries more inclusive for people with disabilities.  Here’s a snapshot of tweets with information, tips, suggestions, and recommendations I’ve gathered from other Twitterbrarians to help continue your learning about accessibility and libraries.   Conference centers/facilities: please invest in lav mics. Give people freedom to come out from behind podium & encourage accessibility. October 23, 2017 by @papersquared   #SensoryStorytime was SO much fun! We read: GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER, DANCING FEET, & THE WIDE-MOUTHED FROG! #saturdaylibrarian. October 21, ,2017 by @Julia_Frederick   “Mind autism doesn’t mean one experiences autism mildly…it means YOU experience…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Recommending Books for Kids with Low Vision

Twitter is a great place to share ideas with your fellow youth librarians.  Just recently, Jennifer Taggart, blogger at Adaptive Umbrella and author of the recent ALSC blog post Inclusive Technology Station, reached out to her Twitter followers.  She needed suggestions of high contrast picture books for children with low vision to add to her library’s special needs collection. It made me think–how do families with children who have low vision find library books? Unless our libraries have a special needs collection, it can be difficult for librarians and parents alike to sift through all of the picture books to find the right one. If this is a situation you have struggled with at your library, here are some criteria you can consider when making book recommendations to families with children with low vision. High Contrast: Books featuring high contrasting colors are inherently more accessible to children with low vision.  These titles offer…

Guest Blogger

Inclusive Technology Station

Inclusive Technology Station

Inclusion is defined by Merriam-Webster as simply “the act of including.” In 2009, the Bloomfield Township Public Library officially unveiled its Special Needs Collection (https://btpl.org/youth/special-needs/) for patrons with different needs. The collection has grown considerably over the past 8 years with circulation increasing steadily due to word-of-mouth, marketing to community organizations and schools, a focus group, and adapted programming. We often see families of all ages with special needs visiting the Youth Room to read, color, attend a program, and play.  Striving to include the technology needs of those with different learning needs in our library,

Blogger Renee Grassi

Autism Welcome Here: Grant Opportunity

                If your library is looking to fund a new project or service that welcomes people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at your library, consider the Autism Welcome Here Grant. The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grant honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected co-founder, Meg Kolaya, for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries with the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with ASD and their families to the library community. It is sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. All types of libraries, either in the U.S. or Canada, are encouraged to apply.  Proposals can fund projects or services directed at any age group.  Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an established, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Learning About Library Accessibility

What does it mean to make your library accessible?  Is it just a quick evaluation of your space, making sure that your department is ADA compliant? Or is it more than that? The term accessibility encompasses a wide variety of issues and topics concerning access of those with disabilities.  When we consider accessibility in libraries, we think of library design, allocation of space, furniture, technology, programming, customer service, collections, library websites, volunteer and employment opportunities, library policies and procedures, and more.  Basically, library accessibility is about equal service and access for everyone in all areas of the library experience.  And there’s a lot to learn about it. ASCLA, a division of ALA, provides free online tip sheets perfect for anyone interested in learning more about library accessibility. These tip sheets provide an overview of each accessibility topic, they share concrete real-world tips and strategies to apply to your service and…