Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter 2014 Meeting Recap

Our winter meeting was held on Wednesday, February 12 at the Glenside Public Library.  Thank you to our hosts and to all of those who attended for your contributions to our discussions that day.  It was great to see you!  Here’s the meeting recap, with a video of JJ’s presentation:

JJs's List
JJ Hanley from JJ’s List spoke to the group about Disability Awareness.  JJ’s List is a website that collects reviews for people with disabilities, similar to Yelp.  Visitors can post information and reviews.  It’s a resource for people to use to find out how disability aware a business is.  The Directory includes at least 23 industry sectors, including libraries.  JJ encouraged the group to post our own reviews of area businesses as well as to add our libraries to the directory.  Contact Sarah Armour (sarah(at) to help you manage your profile.  JJ’s List will also work with you to help your library get a Disability-Aware Business Seal of Approval.  Check out the JJ’sList blog, too.  If you would like to post a guest blog, contact Phillister Sidigu at philister(at) or 847-869-0000 x27.
JJ’s List provides a number of other services in addition to the directory.  The Disability Awareness Players can do a training that helps businesses learn how to connect with customers of all abilities.  JJ’s List also partners with the Pace Suburban Bus System.  The program teaches adults with developmental learning disabilities how to use public transportation.

Advocacy and Marketing
After JJ’s presentation, the group talked about advocacy and marketing.  How do you advocate for special needs at your library?  How do you advocate for staff training?  How do you advocate for special needs to be a part of your strategic planning?  How do you market special needs programs and services at your library?  What is your end goal with marketing? 
Some of the tips included; Consider meeting with your special needs district to create a community survey to identify needs and to assess community interests and the perception of the library.  Get feedback in writing.  Go to parent groups.  Find out what other organizations are offering and on what days, to avoid calendar conflicts.  Form an advisory group of parents of children with special needs.  Attend disability expos to connect with caregivers and to tell people about the library’s programs and resources.  Caregivers also appreciate hearing that we know we have areas we need to improve on. 
The discussion continued after Holly Jin from Skokie Public Library shared her marketing materials for “Come On In: The Library is a Fun Place for Children with Special Needs.”  Check out the website and video.  Attendees agreed that sending out emails to parents the night before a program can prove a very effective way to increase attendance the next day.  You could also consider promoting your services with flyers or posters placed at therapy centers and public transportation stations. 

Autism Webinar
The meeting concluded with a tour of the Glenside Public Library and a webinar presented by Barbara Klipper.  The next meeting will be hosted at the Vernon Area Public Library on Wednesday, April 23 at 9:30 am.  RSVP to Sarah Okner.  Hope to see you all there!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Resources for Expanding Accessible Services & Programs at Your Library

Library services for children with disabilities are continuing to expand by leaps and bounds.  In the last year alone, three separate professional resources have been published specifically targeting this exact topic.  Each of these three books has something incredibly meaningful to contribute to our profession, and all of them are worthwhile purchases for your library's professional collection or your own bookshelf.  Check them out!
Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Written by Barbara Klipper
Purchase a copy HERE at the ALA Store
Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder is unlike anything else I have even seen in professional library literature thus far.  Not only does it contain in-depth background info about autism and suggests methods for securing funding, it features step-by-step program models from librarians across the country.  These detailed program models are complete with lists of books, rhymes, songs, resources, and supplies ready for librarians to use and adapt into their own public or school library
                                            settings. Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians
Revised by Carrie Scott Banks
Purchase a copy HERE at the ALA Store
Including Families of Children with Special Needs is the quintessential resource for librarians inclusion in all of its forms.  This resource gives an overview about developing and maintaining partnerships and collaborations with organizations in the community.  It also helps library professionals assess their own competencies and skills, as well as talks about various principles underlying family-centered services and resources.

Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Written by Lesley S. J. Farmer
Purchase a copy HERE at the ALA Store
Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder is an excellent resource for background information about autism.  This book equips readers with practical tools for staff and volunteer training, proposes strategies for using library design to ensure that materials and services are accessible, and helps to increase readers' understanding of the diagnosis as it relates to a library setting.