Blogger Renee Grassi

Community Assessment for Inclusive Library Services

Leveraging partnerships is essential to supporting the development and growth of new programs and services for children with disabilities. One of the best things you can do when serving an undeserved population like families with children with disabilities is to collaborate with other local organizations to gather community feedback about people’s perceptions and experiences of your library. Whether you decide to take a more formal or an informal approach in gathering information, performing a comprehensive community assessment is a necessary first step in growing this area of service.  Assessing your community helps identify opportunities and gaps in service for different age groups. It can help you learn about what types of programs your library could be offering to families with children with disabilities.  This process can also help you determine what the best and most accessible mode of communication is for families, or identify areas for improvement in your library’s…

Blogger Renee Grassi

ALSC Community Forum: Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities

          ALSC Community Forum January 10, 2018 @ 3PM (Central) Topic: Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities Jason Driver, Renee Grassi, Eva Thaler-Sroussi, and ALSC President Nina Lindsay will be hosting an ALSC Community Forum live chat on the topic of Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities.  This forum will include a live text discussion with the opportunity to ask questions to our presenters. In the past 5 years alone, the topic of inclusion, accessibility, and youth librarianship has moved forward in positive and innovative ways. This discussion will focus on tangible practices for inclusion of children of all abilities in library spaces and services.  What can we do to make our youth departments, our branches, or our libraries more welcoming to children and their families?  What have we learned from our successes and our failures in programs and services?…

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,