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)ireadprogram.org.

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.