Inclusion can mean different things to different people. One definition of inclusion is “an approach to library service that includes patrons with disabilities in an equitable way.” If library staff do everything that they can do to meet the varied needs of patrons with special needs, they are truly being inclusive.
Carrie Banks, the director of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs describes her library’s model for inclusion as “employing universal design and appreciating multiple intelligences so that all are welcomed and engaged.” In her latest book “Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians,” Carrie provides a detailed guide for librarians looking to develop inclusive services for children and youth with disabilities. This book is a must-have resource for any librarian looking to learn more about inclusion in public libraries.
Why is inclusion so important? According to Child Action, Inc., inclusion has many benefits:
- Inclusion provides belonging, acceptance, and developmentally appropriate practices
- Inclusion teaches children with special needs typically developing skills
- Inclusion provides an opportunity to develop friendships
- Inclusion provides children with special needs an opportunity to develop positive attitudes toward themselves and others who are different from themselves
What does inclusion mean to you at your library? For me, inclusive libraries are…