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…
The idea for a Sensory Backpack collection was born during a meeting between Frisco Public Library’s (FPL) Youth Services staff and Frisco ISD’s Parent Trainer, Colleen Kugler. We decided to use collections to help students with special needs feel welcome at FPL.
Language is divisive. Regardless of whatever the intention may be, the impact of our words can be powerful.
In November 2014, my assistant director asked me if I’d ever heard of a special needs storytime. I responded, perhaps overenthusiastically, with the notes and links I had been gathering for 6 months. We decided we wanted to start a Sensory Storytime at our largest branch. We knew we had families with children on the spectrum in our community; some came to the library, some didn’t. We read all the resources we could get our hands on (including these excellent resources here, here, and here). We asked some of our key donors to help buy sensory toys as a part of our annual end-of-year appeal. We observed a sensory storytime at a library on the other side of Michigan in January. That spring, we steadily cultivated relationships with (semi) nearby parent support groups, local therapy clinics, the local university’s collaborative autism center, county public health, and teachers who worked in…
What’s it like to be an autistic children’s librarian? Maybe it’s time to talk about the positive contributions that autistic people can make to a library, not only as library users but also as front-line librarians.
We often serve patrons with disabilities in our children’s spaces, even when we are unaware that we are!
This is the time of the year in which public libraries are preparing for their Summer Reading Program. Ours will be called “Summer @ Your Library” as an initiative to transform our SRP in a more welcoming and inclusive program. This initiative also considers inviting teens with special needs to join our team of volunteers.
Where should I begin? This can sometimes be the most challenging part about developing library services to children with disabilities. In fact, the most common question I receive is about where to start. While there isn’t a one-stop-shop when it comes to expanding your knowledge in this area, I’m pleased to say that there is a plethora of resources out there that can help you on your journey to becoming an advocate for children with disabilities. Basically, what that means is that the first step is to learn. And you’re in luck–here are some of my favorite resources to help you do just that!