Saturday, December 5, 2015

Free Webinar: Sensory Integration presented by Christy Isbell

There is no shortage of professional development opportunities on the topic of youth with disabilities this season, and I'm especially thankful for the gift of free learning opportunities! Here's one that I'm really looking forward to viewing...

Thursday, December 10, 2015, 1:00-2:00pm CST
Hosted by edWeb,net, a free professional learning network, and sponsored by Kaplan Early Learning Company.
This relevant webinar will be presented by Christy Isbell, pediatric therapist, professor, and author of Sensory Integration: a Guide for Preschool Teachers (which we have listed on our Resources page). Tune in to learn what sensory integration is and how it impacts young children's learning and behavior. Christy will focus on three areas that should be helpful for all librarians working with children ages 3-8:

  • What is sensory integration?
  • How can you identify children who are "sensory seekers" or "sensory avoiders?"
  • What are some practical strategies that may meet the needs of children with sensory integration disorder?
You can register for the webinar ahead of time, hold off and sign on if you're free at the time of the presentation, or join the edWeb's Classroom Management for Early Learning community and then schedule a time for a group of your coworkers to view it together from the archive. The more the merrier!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

LACONI Workshop: Opening the Doors--Serving Special Populations

Opening the Doors: Serving Special Populations
Friday, February 26, 2016
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Workshop Fee: LACONI Member: $30; Non-Member: $40
Register here!

"Opening the Doors:  Serving Special Populations" is an upcoming LACONI YSS professional development opportunity for librarians and library staff looking to learn more about serving special populations at their libraries.  This full-day workshop will feature guest speakers from the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NSWRA) and JJ's List.  There will also be a two-hour discussion about serving the homeless. This workshop is open to anyone that works with the public.

Hinsdale Public Library
20 East Maple Street
Hinsdale, IL 60521

Workshop Agenda
9:00 - 9:50 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:50 - 10:00 a.m. Business Meeting
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. “Empathy” presented by the Northwest Special Recreation Association
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. “Serving Differently-abled Patrons” presented by the Disability Players
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch Break
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. “Journeys: The Road Home”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Autism Lecture: "Different, Not Less: NeuroTribes and the Future of Neurodiversity"

Here's another event you don't want to miss!
Family Action Network is hosting Steve Silberman, the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which was recently awarded the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

I haven't read the book yet, but the advance reading copy is loaded on my Kindle and calling out to me. According to Mr. Silberman's publisher, Neurotribes is "a groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently." Does it call to you, too?

Mr. Silberman's upcoming lecture entitled, "Different, Not Less: NeuroTribes and the Future of Neurodiversity" will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 7:00 PM at New Trier High School, Northfield Campus - Cornog Auditorium (7 Happ Rd. Northfield, Illinois 60093).

The presentation is sponsored by the Center for Independent Futures and is free and open to the public - no tickets required. Suitable for ages 12+

For more information and to help spread the word, please view and distribute this flyer.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Check in with SNAILS! Free Online Videos and Training

Since SNAILS began in 2013, we have hosted a variety of knowledgeable guest speakers to provide training and learning for our members.  What makes the SNAILS networking group unique is that we go the extra mile to record parts of our meeting and share them online to provide opportunities for professional development to those that can't be with us in person.  You don't have to be a youth services librarian to learn something from these presentations--library staff from any type of library serving any age group can learn from these guest speakers. 

Whether you weren't able to make the trip to one of our Illinois library meeting locations, or you're from out of state and want to see what you can apply to your own library community, we have something for everyone!

Here's a short list of links to videos featuring guest presenters:

Giant Steps: Music therapist Kylie Kirksey from Giant Steps shares tips for using music in library programs to engage children on the autism spectrum. This video features only a snippet of what Kylie presented on May 5, 2015.

Naperville Public Library/Community Access Napervile:  Barb Prescott of Naperville Public Library and Sherry Healey of Community Access Naperville talk about their on-going partnership and the monthly library programming they developed for young adults with developmental disabilities. Their presentation was made on May 5, 2015.

National Lekotek Center Presentation: Hayley Anderson from the National Lekotek Center talks about the value of play to children of all abilities and the services Lekotek offers to families and organizations, such as libraries. This presentation was recorded at the November 12, 2014.

Using Apps with Children with Special Needs: Tamara Kaldor, M.S. and Founder of Chicago Play Pro, demonstrates a variety of apps and shares helpful tips and strategies for how to use apps and various online tools with children with disabilities.  This presentation was recorded on August 13, 2014.

JJ's List Presentation:  JJ Hanley, founder of talks about the mission of the organization and explains how libraries can receive disability awareness training, add their libraries to the JJsList business directory, and support the work of JJsList. This presentation also covers disability friendly customer service strategies for serving all abilities.  This presentation was recorded on February 12, 2014.

Sensory Storytime Presentation: Renee Grassi and Sue Parsons talk about the value of offering Sensory Storytime and outline three models that can be replicated at other libraries. This presentation was recorded at a SNAILS networking meeting on November 13, 2013.

Sensory Storytime Demonstration: Sue Parsons of Plainfield Public Library District, demonstrates a sample of her Sensory Storytime. Sue's presentation was recorded at a SNAILS networking meeting on November 13, 2013.  

Reminder! Our next SNAILS meeting is scheduled for February 10, 2016 at the Glen Ellyn Public LibrarySend your RSVP to Renee Grassi if you're interested in attending!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Light The Way Grant:" Applications Now Accepted! 

 What is the "Light The Way" Grant?
The ALSC/Candlewick Press "Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved" Grant was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo, and the themes represented in her books.  The award consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done.

The  ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee will select the winner of this award based on an application process. Special population children may include those who have learning or physical differences, those who speak English as a second language, those who are in a non-traditional school environment, those who live in foster care settings, those who are in the juvenile justice system, those who live in gay and lesbian families, those who have teen parents, and those who need accommodation service to meet their needs. 

The winner of this award will be announced at ALA's Midwinter Meeting.

How can my library apply? 

The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee is now accepting applications for  the 2016 ALSC/Candlewick Press "Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved" grant.  2016 grant applications are due December 1, 2015. 

First, review the 2016 application requirements on the 2016 ALSC/Candlewick Press "Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved" grant paper application.  

Next, submit your application and resume via the online form

Then, have your supervisor submit a supporting statement to  Lesley Mason (, by December 1.  Applications without the supporting statement will not be considered for the Light the Way Grant. 

Finally, please contact the chair of the ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee chair, Lesley Mason, with any questions at

Other LSSPCC Committee Resources

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Webinar Opportunity: Inclusive Programming for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

When: Thursday, November 12, 2015 from 1:30 - 3:00 PM CST
Registration Information: Click here to register through L2 calendar
Webinar Cost: FREE!

The majority of library visitors are comfortable navigating their way through the library, approaching staff with questions and using available resources. But for some, these basic library experiences can be intimidating. 

Presented by Noelle Burch and Gina Worsham, librarians from Contra Costa County Library System in California, this webinar will provide participants with the tools to make basic, yet effective changes to their programming in order to create an inclusive library atmosphere for adults with developmental disabilities. The information presented in this webinar will guide library professionals on how best to create and implement a program at their library, as well as helping to identify community partners, perform community outreach and how to effectively create inclusive programming. 

For find out more about what their library does to serve accessibility needs in California, check out their library's Accessibility page.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Programming through Partnership for Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome


Wednesday, November 11, 2015 
9:30 AM to 11:00 AM (CST)
Cost: FREE!
Schaumburg Township District Library
130 South Roselle Road
Schaumburg, IL

According to the CDC, one in 68 children has autism, and numbers are rising. As these kids turn 21, all of the supports and services they have been receiving under the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will no longer be available to them. 

Programming through Partnership for Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome will showcase a dynamic panel discussion featuring Kate Niehoff, Program & Outreach Coordinator from Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL) and Targeting Autism Forum participant. This panel will focus on a series of programs at STDL targeted on its adult patrons with ASD.  Representatives from STDL’s community partners, including the local school district, community college, autism resource center, and an involved parent of an adult son with autism will talk about the specific needs of the ASD community and how public libraries across the state can help fill some of the current gaps in service.

Click here to register for the event.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Institute for Therapy Through the Arts Open House

 Sharing an invitation to a wonderful event!

Institute for Therapy Through the Arts (ITA) Open House
Thursday, October 29, 2015, 2:00-7:00pm
1702 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL 60201

We would like to invite our colleagues in the educational, mental health, and medical communities to join us for an open house at our facility in downtown Evanston. We've planned an enjoyable and informative event providing you with many opportunities to learn about creative arts therapy and ITA. Come and take part in several interactive demonstrations of music, art, dance/movement, and drama therapies.  We will also be offering continuing education workshops throughout the day for school psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers and counselors.  Please sign up for which you would like to attend. There is a one time $15 fee if you wish to earn continuing education credit for these.

Join us at this excellent networking event, whether you stay for 20 minutes or 2 hours! Refreshments provided.


Have questions about Institute for Therapy through the Arts?  Contact ITA

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Serving Deaf Patrons" with ASL Interpreter Kathy MacMillan
Come to the joint NWYS/CLASS meeting on Monday, November 9 and learn from librarian and certified ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan as she provides tips on serving hearing impaired patrons in our libraries and basic conversational signs for a library setting.

Kathy MacMillan is co-author of Little Hands & Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together, a professional resource for librarians, teachers, and educators that provides strategies for serving deaf and hard of hearing children combining American Sign Language and early literacy activities.

  • 9:30 am—10:15 am NWYS & CLASS Business Meeting (NWYS and CLASS members)
  • 10:15 am—10:30 am Break
  • 10:45 am—11:45 am Serving Hearing Impaired Patrons
  • 12:00 pm—1:00 pm Lunch*
  • 1:00 pm—1:30 pm Tour of LaGrange Public Library

Program Cost: Free for NWYS/CLASS Members and $10 for non-members

*Lunch: $10; box lunch choices are: (specify selection in RSVP): Chicken Pesto, Tomato Mozzarella (vegetarian), Turkey swiss, Ham or Turkey on Pretzel roll, Roast beef on Sesame roll; please make checks payable to NWYS

RSVP to: Vicki Rakowski at

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Toys "R" Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

Hot off the press! The latest edition of the Toys "R" Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids has just been published online, and Toys "R" Us is currently taking orders for the print edition. This guide is developed in collaboration with Lekotek play specialists who evaluate and recommend toys according to their developmental benefits. While the information focuses on the needs of kids with disabilities, the toys are not adapted in any way so the guide is helpful for parents of children of all abilities!

I've ordered a box of 250 guides to share between us at our October meeting in Glenview. While I don't find the print version to be very popular with my sensory storytime families, you are welcome to place an order for a full box to share with your community partners and patrons.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Announcing NEW Library Grant: Autism Welcome Here!

 Autism Welcome Here Grant
The "Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More" grant is sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We're Connected. This grant honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism co-founder Meg Kolaya for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community.
* Apply Online Here

Grant Description
Each year, a total of $5,000.00 will be awarded. Depending on the applications received, one grant for the full amount or multiple grants for smaller amounts totaling $5,000.00 may be awarded. Any type of library can apply and the proposal can fund projects and services for any age group. Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an already-existing, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance a program or service they already offer. All programs or services proposed must benefit people with autism or their families, directly or indirectly. Funds may be used to hire a trainer to present a workshop, to buy program materials, to pay for staff, etc.
Criteria for Selection:
Applications will be judged on the basis of:

  • The project is clearly described and well thought out.
  • There is institutional support for the program or service.
  • People with autism, family members or other community stakeholders are involved in the development and/or implementation of the project.
  • The program is one that would be replicable in other communities.
  • The program or service is based on an understanding of the needs of people with autism and/or best practices in working with this population.
  • The service or program will be sustainable after the end of the grant period.
All questions must be answered, unless they are marked "optional". Completed applications must be submitted by December 1, 2015. The winner(s) will be notified by March 1, 2016. The grant funding period is April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.
Please direct any questions to Barbara Klipper:
* Apply Online Here
Grant Committee Members
  • Renee Grassi - Youth Department Director, Glen Ellyn (IL) Public Library
  • Barbara Klipper - Retired Librarian, Consultant and Trainer
  • Meg Kolaya - Libraries & Autism, Library Connections, LLC
  • Adria Nassim - Autism Self-Advocate
  • Suaznne Schriar - Associate Director, Illinois Library Automation & Technology, Illinois State Library
  • Debra Vines - Founder/Executive Director of The Answer, Inc.
  • Dan Weiss - Director, Fanwood (NJ) Memorial Library; Libraries & Autism, Library Connections, LLC
This grant is funded by Barbara Klipper, librarian and author of Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ALA Editions, 2014) and The Secret Rules of Social Networking (AAPC Publishing, 2015), a one-of-a-kind resource for teens and young adults with ASD or other social skills deficits that outlines the unstated rules that guide relationships in the real world and online as well.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Accessibility Topics at Illinois' "A Library State of Mind" Conference

Looking to learn about outreach and serving patrons inclusively and accessibly at this year's state library conference?  Join other public, school, academic, and special libraries at this year's conference "A Library State of Mind" where we will connect, network and learn together about serving ALL of our community members.

Getting Started with Outreach In Your Community 
Thursday, October 22 at 10:45 am
This interactive class will provide a background in cultural competence and outreach skills as librarians make outreach efforts to underserved and minority populations in their communities. The goal of this course is to offer concrete ideas to enable librarians to initiate outreach programs with minority communities. Topics to be covered include resources for locating community demographics, the importance of developing relationships, the basics of building and developing community-based partnerships, recognition and acceptance of cultural differences, and the importance of cultural competency. Participants will engage in group discussions to explore models for developing their own programs.

Turning Outward: Community Engagement and Strategic Planning  
Thursday, October 22 at 10:45 am
Turning Outward: it's about seeking and understanding the aspirations of those we serve and turning those aspirations into meaningful, strategic action. It's about working to transform ourselves and our communities. Learn about how the Indian Trails Library District, the Oak Park Public Library, and the Skokie Public Library are using the methods of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation -- with the encouragement of the American Library Association -- to engage our citizens, to develop meaningful action plans, and to prepare our libraries and our communities for the future. 

That ALL May Read
Thursday, October 22 at 1:45 pm
Enhance library services by implementing new technologies to serve students and patrons unable to read standard print. Talking Book and Braille Service, a leader in alternative format reading material has a long partnership with Illinois school, public, academic and special libraries. It provides books, players, and direct downloads to eligible individuals. Discover an innovative new app allowing immediate download to a computer or iPhone at no charge. This established partnership between a Federal program, state agency, and local libraries shows how you can join the collaboration to strengthen your community and enhance the quality of life for people underserved by libraries. 

Tiny Crafters: Art and Sensory Programs for Ages 0-5 
Thursday, October 22 at 3 pm
Art knows no age limits! While a baby or toddler’s artwork may not be hung in a museum, librarians can help facilitate sensory art exploration in an environment that encourages young children to explore their world using all five senses while practicing the five early literacy practices. Learn about how you can host a hands-on art program for children ages 0-5 and leave with a spark of inspiration.

Fairs with Flair
Thursday, October 22 at 3 pm
Want to add some flair to your programming lineup? Learn tricks and tips about incorporating fairs into your library events. This panel presentation will showcase several examples of successful fairs on the topics of Preschool, Special Needs, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), Volunteer, and BookFest. Learn how to: get community groups on board with your idea, determine what’s important to your community, engage your local schools and supplement their curricula, highlight local service groups and community organizations, and showcase the library as the center of what’s happening in your community.

Programming through Partnership for Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
Friday, October 23 at 2:45 pm
According to the CDC, one in 68 children has autism, and numbers are rising. As these kids turn 21, all of the supports and services they have been receiving under the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will no longer be available to them. Learn how the Schaumburg Township District Library implemented a successful series of programs targeted towards its adult patrons with ASD. Representatives from STDL's community partners, including the local school district, community college, autism resource center, and an involved parent of an adult son with autism will talk about the specific needs of the ASD community and how public libraries across the state can help fill some of the current gaps in service.

Targeting Autism: Libraries and Community Stakeholders Taking the Lead to Better Serve Residents with Autism
Saturday, October 24 at 1:45 pm
A panel including a public librarian and school librarian, an autism service provider, and a young woman with autism/self advocate will discuss strategies for collaboration and the power of libraries to improve the quality of life for special needs communities. Targeting Autism is an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant Project that partners all types of libraries with various autism advocates and service providers for the purpose of helping libraries better support the large population of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

 More than 1 out of 10 people in Illinois have a disability.  

In recognition of the anniversary of ADA25, the RAILS library system as partnered with ADA25Chicago to offer professional development and learning opportunities to librarians and library staff about serving people with disabilities.  Here is a snapshot of what is available for you and your staff from now until the end of the year.

Webinar: “Beyond Assistive Technology: Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities”
Thursday, August 20 from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Webinar: “Autism 101 for Libraries: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder and How Can We Help Students and Families at the Library?”
Thursday, September 17, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

In-Person Training: “Mental Health Awareness Training for Library Staff”
Wednesday, October 7, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Skokie Public Library

Webinar: “Inclusive Programming for Adults with Developmental Disabilities”
Thursday, November 12, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
More info:

Webinar: "Accessible to All: Serving Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities"
 Thursday, December 10, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m.
More info:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Learning about Special Population Children at ALA Annual!
There are many opportunities for learning about serving special population children at ALA!  So, as you make your final schedule for 2015 ALA Annual in San Francisco, the ALSC Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee encourages you to add the programs below.

Library Services for the Incarcerated and Detained | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 08:30am – 10:00am | Marriott Marquis San Francisco – Yerba Buena Salon 04

Hearing on Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dementia | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 10:30am – 11:30am | Moscone Convention Center – 133 (N)

Next Chapter Book Club: A Community-based Model for Engaging People with Disabilities | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 10:30am – 11:30am | Moscone Convention Center – 2000 (W)

AIDS in the End Zone: Working with Incarcerated Youth to Create a Graphic Novel on HIV/AIDS Prevention | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 01:00pm – 02:30pm | Moscone Convention Center – 122 (N)

Conversation Starter: Beyond Print — Audiobooks, Braille, & Large Print | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 01:30pm – 02:15pm | Moscone Convention Center – 130 (N)

LGBTQ Services: Improving Library Service From the Bottom Up | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 02:30pm – 04:00pm | Moscone Convention Center – Exhibit Hall – Poster Session – Poster 22

APALA Program – Create Possibilities for Refugee, Immigrant and Low Income Students | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 03:00pm – 04:00pm | Moscone Convention Center – 236-238 (S)

Breaking Down Barriers: School Libraries and Deaf Education | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 04:30pm – 05:30pm | Moscone Convention Center – 3000 (W)

Everyone’s REALLY Welcome: Inviting Neurodiverse Students into Your Library | Sunday, 06/28/2015 – 08:30am – 09:30am | Moscone Convention Center – 2005 (W)

Seeing Through Walls: Library-Based Video Conferencing to Connect Kids with Parents in Jail | Sunday, 06/28/2015 – 10:30am – 11:30am | Moscone Convention Center – 2016 (W)

They’re Our Customers, Too: Engaging the Homeless at Your Library | Sunday, 06/28/2015 – 03:00pm – 04:00pm | Moscone Convention Center – 2020 (W)

Early Literacy Outreach for Teen Parents: Engage & Inspire with ECRR 2.0 | Monday, 06/29/2015 – 01:00pm – 02:30pm | Moscone Convention Center – 2006 (W)

If you want a short description of each session listed above, visit the #ALAAC15 website. Use the ALA Scheduler to begin crafting your plan! Thank you to ALSC LSSPCC Committee Member Sylvia Aguinaga for putting together this great list!

New Graduate Level Course on Accessibility Services at Dominican University

Check it out! Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science is offering a new course this fall...

LIS 806.01 Special Topics: Serving Children with Disabilities
1.5 credit hours. Wednesdays, 10/21-11/18/15 and 12/2-12/9/15; 9am-12pm

According to recent U.S. Department of Education statistics, 6.4 million children and youth ages 3-21 received special education services in 2011-2012 due to an identified disability. In a six-week course taught by assistant professor Sujin Huggins, students will become familiar with the characteristics of physical, medical, psychological, and learning disabilities. They'll also learn ways in which librarians can work with other community organizations to serve patrons with a wide range of needs.

As alumni, Renee and I couldn't be more proud of Dominican University for developing a course that helps prepare future librarians to serve children with special needs. If you are pursuing an MLS be sure to register for this course and spread the word. And if you are a Domincan Alum, know that you can audit the class for free!

More information is available at myDU by doing a Course Search for Fall 2015-2016 and choosing assistant professor Sujin Huggins from the Faculty field.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Chicago Abilities Expo

In case you've missed the billboard ads don't miss the Chicago Abilities Expo! This FREE, three-day event is being held June 12-15, 2015 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.

Register now and plan to spend at least a day at this enormous event. Browse the exhibit floor to discover helpful products and services for your patrons including assistive technology. Catch inspiring demonstrations of adaptive dance and sports. Learn about the benefit of service animals. Purchase an original piece of work from the Artist Market.

The event I'm most excited about is the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act presented by the ADA National Network and The Legacy Project. Their Friday morning workshop, ADA: a Civil Rights Legacy will tell the story of the fight for civil rights in housing, employment, and education and address future challenges and opportunities. Right after the workshop, I plan to check out the ADA Legacy Tour, a traveling exhibit featuring historical artifacts from the disability rights movement and video interviews of today's self-advocates.

I also can't wait to see the miniature therapy horses from Mane in Heaven, an animal assisted therapy organization in Barrington, Illinois. I can't imagine a single library that won't want to book an event with these adorable animals!

Even if you can't slip away from the library on Friday, you may want to set aside a little personal time to attend the Expo for a few hours on Saturday or Sunday. It's that good!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Survey for Illinois Libraries

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is conducting a survey as part of ADA 25 Chicago to identify best practices in community inclusion for persons with disabilities. RAILS libraries are encouraged to participate. The information will be used to formulate and share best practices for accessibility. Responses are due by Friday, June 5

Direct questions to Jeffrey Walter or 312.201.4508.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Library Technology and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Survey

Team SPECTRA, one of the ILEAD USA 2015 teams, is focusing their project on technologies that will make libraries welcoming and useful to people with autism spectrum disorder. In an effort to gauge current knowledge and programs and learn what tools would be helpful, the team has created a short survey. Staff from all types of libraries are encouraged to participate.

For a link to the survey, click here: The deadline for survey submissions is Monday, June 1. 

For any questions, please contact Natalie DeJonghe.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Disability Awareness Training for Staff

How does your library prepare staff for inclusive customer service?  Before you plan or implement any targeted programs for people with disabilities, it's important to provide staff with the tools they need to welcome library patrons equitably and respectfully.

This month, staff at the Glen Ellyn Public Library will spend part of their in-service day participating in a disability awareness training hosted by JJ's List and the Disability Awareness Players.  This will be an opportunity for library staff at all levels to learn about disability-friendly customer service strategies led by trained professionals and self-advocates.  

In addition to the all-staff training, Youth staff will focus their afternoon on learning specifically about autism spectrum disorder.  In recognition of April as Autism Awareness Month, our Youth Department will learn what we can do to be more welcoming children with ASD.  In order to prepare for this discussion, staff filled out a brief survey to assess their current awareness and knowledge of ASD as it relates to library programming and services.

Do you want to help your staff or colleagues to be more welcoming to children with autism in your library, but don't know where to start?  Put together a survey like this to figure out which areas your training can focus on. 

Children with Autism in Libraries 
Staff Training Survey
1. Please rate your familiarity with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Circle one.
1     Have no prior knowledge or understanding
10   Extremely knowledgeable/expert 

2. In this training, I would like to learn more about the following...  Please check all that apply. 

        Developmental characteristics of a child with ASD
        How to manage behavior of a child with ASD in a library setting
        What sensory processing disorder is and how it can affect a child with ASD
        Customer service tips for communicating with a child with ASD
        How to approach and build a rapport with a child with ASD
        Tips for interacting with parents or caregivers of a child with ASD
        What visual supports are and how I can create and use them for a child with ASD
        What a social story is and how it can support a child with ASD
        How to manage program transitions for a child with ASD
        Tips for making accommodations in a program for a child with ASD
        How to use music in a program with a child with ASD
        How to choose books for storytime that appeal to a child with ASD
        What type of books to recommend for a child with ASD
        What children and middle school books represent the ASD experience

3. Is there a particular situation or specific interaction that has occurred in a library setting that you would like this or future trainings to address? If so, please describe the situation or interaction below. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Opening the Doors, Reaching the Underserved

Looking for some professional development about serving underserved populations in libraries?  Check out this upcoming LACONI program hosted at the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, Illinois.  

Opening the Doors, Reaching the Underserved 
Friday, April 24, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien IL

Brief Agenda
10:00 am: The Northwest Special Recreation Association gives their Empathy Presentation.
11:00 am: The Disability Players from JJ's List present a skit about serving differently-abled patrons.
1:00 pm: Journeys: The Road Home discusses serving the homeless.
2:00 pm: PFLAG  (Parents, families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) discusses how to make the library more welcoming to LGBTQ families and teens.

Purchase Tickets Here

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Targeting Autism Survey: ISL Needs Your Input Now!

The Illinois State Library (ISL) has received an IMLS Leadership Grant to explore how libraries across the state can best serve people affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The goal is to develop an action plan for libraries to increase autism awareness, education, and support services; establish sustainable partnerships; and improve access to information about autism. Some of our very own SNAILS members will be participating in the Targeting Autism forums this year. The exciting news is that everyone can participate in the project by taking the Targeting Autism survey.
According to ISL Associate Director Suzanne Schriar, "the purpose of the survey is to better understand your needs, priorities, and interests around ASD in order to guide the development and delivery of ASD information services by community libraries across the state. Please share the survey [which is available in English and Spanish] with your patrons, friends and all Illinois residents who have been personally or professionally  affected by ASD."

"Participation in the survey is voluntary and all responses will be kept confidential -- only combined responses will be reported.  The results will be presented at a state-wide summit session in March and they will be distributed broadly, including to people who have responded to this request."

After you take the survey, with whom will you share it?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inclusive Summer Reading Strategies

The Illinois Library Association's IREAD Committee wants to know how libraries can make summer reading inclusive to children of all abilities, and they've reached out to SNAILS for suggestions! Since you already have summer reading on the brain, won't you take a few minutes to submit your special needs or inclusive strategies to be considered for the 2016 IREAD Resource Guide?

Don't worry if you haven't tried out the idea yet. We are all still in the learning process! What we want to do is get in the habit of designing our programs with different abilities in mind before the reading club/program starts so that we don't have to make last minute accommodations. How would you design your summer reading club/program to be accessible to all? How could you apply universal design to the following components? 
  • Registration and Recording 
  • Programs and Events
  • Inclusive Programming Strategies
  • Crafts, Makerspaces & DIY
  • Partnerships
  • Decorations and Displays
  • Publicity and Promotion
  • Teen Volunteers
  • Bibliographies
  • Staff Resources
The theme for next year is Read - For the Win! in honor of the 2016 Summer Olympics, so sports and game-related ideas are welcome. No idea is too small to include, and original articles are welcome.

To submit on behalf of SNAILS, just add your ideas to our Google Sheet and we'll organize and enter them as a whole. If you'd rather submit as an individual, you may fill out the submission form and send any related documents to Tom Kochinski at ideas(at)

Submissions are due by Saturday, February 28, 2015.

Let's make a difference together!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

We Are Accessibility Advocates!

This guest post was written by Cate Loveday, Youth Services Associate at Helen Plum Memorial Library.  She will graduate in May, 2015 with her MLIS from Dominican University.  Cate recently attended the 2015 ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago, Illinois and shares her takeaways from that learning experience.  Thank you, Cate, for sharing such a valuable message!
We are Accessibility Advocates for all of our patrons. 

Everyone who comes into the library should be able to have access to the materials and programs they need. I realize we understand this, but sometimes it can be challenging to put into the right words. 

While I was at ALA Midwinter and attended the Leadership & ALSC meeting, I was able to hear Jenna Nemec-Loise from Everyday Advocacy speak about the benefits of using VBL (Value Based Language) when talking about the services we provide. The idea around VBL is that it shifts the focus away from the program and puts emphasis on the benefits our population receives. 

As part of the session, we wrote elevator speeches that utilized VBL to make a more powerful impact. Elevator speeches help librarians with advocacy.  By using an elevator speech, we as librarians can quickly answer two big questions:

What do you do?
Why is it important?

For example instead of saying: “I lead Sensory Storytimes for children with special needs.”

I can use Value Based Language to say: “I help children of all abilities to explore stories and literacy in a way that is both appropriate and stimulating to their sensory needs so that the library becomes a more inviting place for all families.”
What a difference! This approach makes the statement more specific, giving more details to your audience and hopefully enticing them to follow up with ‘I would like to hear more about that.’ 

It is also totally empowering and makes you feel like the awesome librarian you are!

This session, though it was for all types of librarianship, really struck a chord with me when thinking about serving the Special Needs population. To create a library culture that is accessible to all patrons, advocating for the Special Needs population is a large part of our responsibility. When we are concisely able to articulate this idea to our stakeholders (co-workers, trustees, community members, etc) we begin a conversation from which amazing things can happen.

If you want to try writing your own VBL Elevator Speech, Everyday Advocacy provides a sample template to try out:

“I help_______________[your main customer group] _____________[verb]  in order to ________________[large, positive result].”

Good luck and please feel free to share your own elevator speeches in the comments!

If you would like more advocacy resources please check out Everyday Advocacy or follow Jenna Nemec-Loise on twitter @ALAJenna.