Y’all Means All: Inclusion in our Public Libraries

Y’all Means All: Inclusion in our Public Libraries

[This newsletter article is from the July issue of the Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide monthly newsletter. You can sign up for that here.]

Y’all Means All

Though June was  LGBT Pride Month and we were able to celebrate the location of the Stonewall Uprising becoming designated as a National Monument, therecent incident at an Orlando nightclub reminds us that inclusion is one of the most important services that we can provide as libraries. How can we make sure that all of our patrons feel welcomed? ALA’s Annual Conference took place in Orlando weeks after the incident and they had a host of support events organized. Here is a roundup of PRIDE book displays from libraries and bookstores all over the world. What are you doing towards inclusion in your community? What more can we be doing?

Libraries and Autism

There is currently a push for England’s around 3,000 public libraries to become more welcoming spaces for people with autism. They are creating a network of autism-friendly libraries, educating staff about Autism Spectrum Disorder so that they can be more tolerant and understanding, and creating spaces for them to feel comfortable and welcome.

On our side of the pond, two libraries in New Jersey have put together this wonderful site of resources including decals letting your patrons know you are mindful of their needs, a brief training video for staff on providing customer service to those in the autism community, and this non-verbal communication tool. They also offer a $5,000 grant for those that are looking to create new programming or enhance current programming to benefit people with autism and their families. They are accepting applications for the 2017 grant starting September 1st.

And right here in Texas, our very own Cedar Park Public Library recently received an award from Autism Speaks for their Sensory Storytime. They were awarded $550 to purchase supplies including magnetic storyboards, musical shakers, carper circles, and weighted lap pads among other items. Youth Services Manager Kit Coates provided me with a brief description of their program: “Sensory Storytime is a Library story time specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum. It was developed to address the need in the community for a story time for this specific population and began in the fall of 2014. Held once a month, the story time is a chance for children on the autism spectrum to experience story time in an environment that is aware of and responsive to their needs. Adaptations to the traditional story time format are made to account for the needs and wants of children on the spectrum. The staff member responsible for the program received training in providing story times to children with autism, and has
further researched best practices in other libraries. The story time is approximately one hour in length, and closely follows a posted schedule so children are aware of what will occur. Sensory Storytime includes books, songs, fingerplays, and flannel boards proven to be engaging and meaningful for autistic children. The story time also includes sensory activities involving water, sand, rice, and other materials. All the books, songs, and activities are carefully researched and purposefully selected with the needs of the children in mind. They have participants register in advance, and this past fiscal year have had between 6-8 children and about the same number of adults at each story time, which has been a perfect size for this group. You can learn even more about their program by checking out their blog.

If you already have programming, make sure it is posted where special needs families can see. Here in Central Texas, the Autism Society lists local events so that families only need look in one place to find events and programming to fit all of their needs.

Please share with us what you are doing to make your library inclusive to all! Simply by sharing you can inspire someone else to do the same in their community. Write to me or share on our discussion list. And thank you for all that you do!

YouthShare Series

I am hoping to have a series of YouthShare sessions in FY2017 because it has been awhile since we have had these. I put together this quick survey to get some feedback and gauge interest. These and other workshops are for you and we value your input. Thank you!

YouthLinks

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