What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 24 of 24
1. A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start?

As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions:

The location of the program-

Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues.

Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision.

Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius.

Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and pillows may be arranged to give children more stability and motor control and to ensure their comfort and security.

Staff to participant ratio-

Are all children receiving individual attention? Speaking with children at eye level is an important engagement tool.

Do adults call children by name? Identifying each child makes for a more inclusive environment. You can praise positive behavior when you can call each child by name.

Are there sufficient personnel to respond in the event of emergencies? Having another staff person in the room can help mitigate any immediate problem with minimal disruption to the program.

Are you using parents as partners? Parents can be your best tool! They know their children best. And after all, they are here to make positive memories as a family. Allow them to be a part of your program.

The program activities-

Do you have a variety of developmental activities taking place? Every child works and participates at a different pace. Make sure there are tools and activities for different ages and developmental abilities. This can be as simple as crayons of various sizes, precut craft items, and larger pieces of paper.

Is the information presented in multiple formats? Pictures can provide context about the program and its goals. A soft bell can be an audio clue that something is about to happen in your program.

Just being mindful of the needs of your families can start the conversation about inclusion. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of “special needs programming” these small steps will get you on the road to providing a welcoming atmosphere for all your families.

For more tips check out these resources:



Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at [email protected]

The post A Special Needs Summer? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on A Special Needs Summer? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Sensory Storytime Progression

In early 2012 I decided I wanted to create a Sensory Storytime at my branch. After watching a few webinars, making contact with the Autism Society of Central Virginia, and talking with local teachers I began to design my program. I decided it would run in three week sessions on Saturdays and that I would offer it quarterly. It was designed for children on the spectrum ages of 3-6 years. I checked out our copy of The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun by Kranowitz and selected a variety of activities that I thought would work. Our Friends bought us awesome play items including no spill toddler bubbles.

Our first Sensory Storytime was in October 2012. I was blown away by the response! The most phenomenal part for me was watching parents talk with each other while their children played after storytime. They were all dealing with similar struggles and it was obviously a relief to talk with people who understood completely.

The October and February sessions were incredibly well attended. I followed up each session with a survey and got nothing but positive feedback from my families.  I ran this program for a full year and each session had fewer and fewer participants.  In October 2014 I could no longer justify the amount of time I dedicated to this program due to little to no attendance.

Soon after I made this hard decision I met Jessica who is a social worker for our county’s early intervention. She agreed to spend some time with me to revamp this program and evaluate why it had fizzled. We decided that the best idea would be to try to offer a weekly inclusive storytime with a sensory focus, open to any child between the ages of 1-5 years. Each program would have a presenter, an assistant and a representative of early intervention. We launched this program in January 2016.

This format has been very successful and feels more sustainable. Sensory Storytime’s goal is to be a welcoming, encouraging and supportive program that is smaller and more adaptive than other storytimes. Our group has been a mix of regulars, children who don’t thrive in other storytimes and children being served by early intervention. Having two other adults in the room to help parents and children navigate the program and troubleshoot issues has been immeasurably valuable.

Erin Lovelace works as a Children’s Librarian in Virginia and is a member of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee.

The post Sensory Storytime Progression appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Sensory Storytime Progression as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Begin Your Sensory Storytime Today!

Many librarians that I have talked to are reluctant to start a sensory story time. Familiar refrains that I’ve heard go something like this:  I don’t know the first thing about children with special abilities; I don’t have specialized training; I don’t want to do the wrong thing and upset a child who already has special needs; I didn’t go to library school to do sensory storytimes; don’t I need a really big grant in order to secure materials for something like this?

Much has been written about how to begin a sensory storytime. We won’t cover that here.  There’s plenty of stuff out there for you research, plus we’ve included some references below.  However, you should know that you’re probably already equipped to do a sensory storytime right now!  Joshua Farnum, the play, and active learning specialist at Chicago Public Library has started a string of successful sensory storytimes across the city and is expanding to more branches.  Joshua states, “sensory storytime is a storytime that works for you.  It’s a lot like traditional storytime, but it puts a particular emphasis on repetition, interactive activities, and sensory play. The best way to discover what sensory storytime is all about is to experience it yourself.”  Indeed, a sensory storytime is, after all, just a storytime, with the special touch being the care you take to have things like a schedule, and manipulates  (just to name a couple). With a very basic understanding of the abilities that your patrons exhibit, you will go a long way to making your storytime one in which a child or children with developmental differences can thrive in.

If you’ve ever wondered what people of special abilities need to feel comfortable? Then just ask!  There are plenty of parent groups, cohorts, and organizations who host fairs for children and families who have developmental differences.  Most parents would be happy to talk to you about their kids and what works or doesn’t work for them.  If you have play manipulatives, already in your library, then you probably have a some essential items for some children with special abilities.  You may not have gone to library school to be a sensory storytime librarian, but let’s face it, children with special abilities are on the rise in this country. Many parents of these children don’t feel comfortable in the library because of negative experiences with insensitive staff and or fear of being ostracized by other parents.  By starting a sensory storytime for this group, you fulfill a need and help to serve an already underserved population. Sensory storytimes also foster literacy, engage the senses, and it’s a ton of fun!

Remember it’s for everyone!

Storytime for the Spectrum


Libraries and Autism


ALSC Sensory Storytime Pinterest Board


Sensory Storytime: A (brief) How-To Guide


SPD Foundation



The post Begin Your Sensory Storytime Today! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Begin Your Sensory Storytime Today! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play

So much learning happens through play. Play can help children practice language, motor skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. Many of our libraries may already include free play as part of our storytime programs for young children to support this growth. We may not realize it, though, but there are many barriers to play that exist for children with special needs.  Some of the kids in our communities may not be equipped with the skills to play without accommodations or support. So it’s important that we develop strategies to be inclusive and enable access to play for all.

Coming up with accessible and inclusive play-based activities and games for storytime programs can be a challenge if you do not have a background in occupational therapy or special education. Thankfully, there are a variety of up to date and valuable resources at our disposal to help us learn about inclusive play-based programs.  Check out this professional literature–or interlibrary loan it from your nearest library–to learn more!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514xCQvodNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEarly Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders by Barbara Sher




Including Families of Children with Special Needs by Carrie Banks




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51osu68LY4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSocial Skills Activities for Special Children by Darlene Mannix




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y6UmRVPTL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Kranowitz




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vNc1frGYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgPlaying, Laughing, and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers by Julia Moor





Inclusive Play: Practical Strategies for Children from Birth to Eight by Theresa Casey



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51oqchZwxnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger’s and Sensory Processing Disorders by Tara Delaney




Renee Grassi, LSSPCC Committee Member

The post Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play as of 1/2/2016 8:52:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Library Service to Refugees and Immigrants

In light of the current political and social landscape around the world, there has been an increase of refugees abroad and here at home. With the imminent arrival of more refugee children and families from Syria and other war-torn regions, how can we assist these families in assimilating to their new home? How do we find out what their needs are so we can provide them with critical information about literacy, social services, jobs and other resources?

Libraries have long been a champion of freedom of access to materials for all walks of life. How do we leverage our commitment to equitable access to meet the needs of refugees, many of whom are vulnerable children?

Certainly the efforts of REFORMA have been well documented in promoting library services to Latinos and Spanish-speaking refugees. It has provided children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala backpacks of books and other resources when they arrive in the United States.  The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and Libraries Without Borders are other examples of organizations that aid refugees. CILIP, in the U.K., has outlined a welcome statement framing the types of services they feel are valuable to immigrants.  Libraries without Borders has partnered with the United Nations to create a portable toolkit to assist refugees with information, literacy, and digital connectivity.

The Rogers Park and Albany Park communities in Chicago are two of the most diverse Neighborhoods in the entire country.   There are over 40 different languages spoken in each of these communities. Several community organizations connect immigrants and refugees to the local libraries to access services, including story times for children.  The Howard Area Community Center, Albany Park Community Center, and World Relief Chicago are a few of the community organizations that bring families to the Rogers Park and Albany Park Branch libraries for family story times, Summer Learning Challenge activities and to use the vast wealth of resources available at the Chicago Public Library.

We owe a sense of responsibility not only to the individuals who we can see, those who beckon our library doors and make our patron counts tick- but also to those we cannot see, but have the potential to reach. These people are the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society, whether they be U.S. citizens or not, so let’s take the lead in designing programs and policies that aid in their general welfare.

A recent study by the Pew Center sites that many Americans say they want libraries to serve special constituents like immigrants. In fact, 59 percent of the study respondents reported they would like to see libraries create services or programs for immigrants and first generation Americans.  I say we should all answer the call!

Notable Programs

Library in a Box















The post Library Service to Refugees and Immigrants appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Library Service to Refugees and Immigrants as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is now live!

It’s grant writing time, and for many public libraries, grants are the main driver of funding for new and existing programs. It’s a stressful time, both for those writing the grants, and those awarding them.
The best advice I can give is to be selective! Research what grants are available to you, and make sure what you’re asking for fits the selection criteria of the grant being awarded. Once you’ve identified a grant that matches your needs, review previous grant winners to see if you can identify what made that winning program stand out from the rest of the applicants. Also, work with your program staff to be sure your information is up to date and relevant. Avoid rhetoric and hyperbole. Try to provide anecdotes and testimonies that demonstrate need or previous success. Be specific about outputs and outcomes. The proposal should explicitly state expected practical, tangible outputs. Don’t be afraid to be realistic about your expectations! Make sure to adhere to the formatting and content requirements laid out in the grant application instructions. Proposals not meeting these requirements will often not be considered.

We are looking forward to reading your submissions! The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee will select the winner of  our “Light the Way” award based on the application process. Special population children may include but isn’t limited to: 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 non-traditional families, and those who need accommodation services. The winner of this award will be announced at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. The award consists of a $3,000 grant to assist in conducting exemplary outreach to under-served populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done.

Not sure if this is the right grant for you? Review these other amazing opportunities!

The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grant.

Looking to expand your collection? The Libri Foundation can help, so can The Lisa Libraries.

Do you need a wide variety of books for your collection? Ask the Library of Congress.

Are you working on a program that needs audio books or videos?

Best of luck to you during the grant writing season!

Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at [email protected]

The post The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is now live! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is now live! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention

We all love finding great partners in our community! One of my favorite community connections is the amazing staff at Early Intervention which is a part of our county’s Infant & Toddler Services. Libraries and Early Intervention are a natural complement to each other’s services. We target similar ages and both have a strong focus on early childhood development.

Our relationship with Infant & Toddler Services began two years ago when we offered a county wide inclusive playgroup. Our librarians developed the play ideas and Jessica, a social worker from Early Intervention came and played with us. We didn’t attract many families who were already receiving services but it did offer a wonderful opportunity for Jessica to talk with families about any developmental concerns. It was so powerful! There probably isn’t a parent in the world who hasn’t had questions about their child’s development at some point. Right!?!

This program opened a door for continued collaboration between Jessica and myself. I had previously provided Sensory Storytimes but had to discontinue them due to interest that fizzled after about a year. Jessica and I discovered we both have passion for “sensory kids” and have worked to revamp this program. It is launching in January 2016 and we are very excited to start this new adventure together!

Early Intervention also has the power to make sure families know libraries are a welcoming place for special needs children. Who else has partnered with your community’s Early Intervention? I would love to hear about what you have done!

If you haven’t made a connection with this service in your community I urge you to make a call today. You will have no regrets!



Erin Rogers is a Children’s Librarian in Virginia and a member of the Library Service to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee

The post Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention as of 10/3/2015 1:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Kids in the Kitchen

Look out! September 13 is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day! This is a great opportunity to not only highlight some of your collection’s cooking resources, but also feature materials reflecting ethnic diversity. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your display or booktalk:

ChopChop Magazine is full of kid-friendly recipes and information, often featuring ethnically diverse dishes and racially diverse models.

C hopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson, brought to you by the same folks who bring you ChopChop Magazine.

The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio includes recipes from around the world, suited for young chefs.

Everybody Cooks Rice, Everybody Bakes Bread, and Everybody Brings Noodles by Norah Dooley introduce different forms of familiar foods, offering a common thread among diverse families.

What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla introduces readers to many of the possibilities that lie within a Mexican frozen treat.

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes is a retelling of a classic tale, featuring Hindu god Ganesha , who has a sweet spot for candy.

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore tells the story of young Cora, who makes the Filipino dish Pancit (with Mama’s help) for the first time.

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton (WI) Public Library. She is a member of the Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

The post Kids in the Kitchen appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Kids in the Kitchen as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Happy National Respect for Parents Day!

That’s right, August 1st is National Respect for Parents Day. And while I’m not sure what the founder intended, we can show respect for all parents and caregivers by making sure our collections include books reflecting diverse families. We can highlight these books in storytimes, other programs, and displays. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown

Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark

Here Comes Hortense! by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Silas’ Seven Grandparents by Anita Horrocks

Monday is One Day by Arthur A. Levine

Spork by Kyo Maclear

The Family Book by Todd Parr

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Along with offering and highlighting materials reflecting diverse families, we can remember to use inclusive language, both spoken and written. For example, when approaching an unaccompanied child in the library, we might say, “Are you with someone today?” rather than, “Are you here with Mom or Dad?” In promotional materials for our programming, we could write, “Children and caregivers are welcome,” in place of, “Children and their parents may attend.”

There are lots of ways to show respect for parents, caregivers, and families! What are some techniques you use? What are your favorite books reflecting diverse families?

Amanda Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton (WI) Public Library. She is a member of the ALSC Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

The post Happy National Respect for Parents Day! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Happy National Respect for Parents Day! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library

Who Are We?

We are ALSC’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee.  We are accessibility and inclusion advocates who care deeply about the needs of our entire library community, especially special population children and their caregivers.

What Do We Do?

We discover and disseminate information about what libraries have to offer these special populations.  We develop and maintain guidelines for selection of useful and relevant materials.  We also help prepare the next generation of librarians and library workers by creating and providing resources to serve their communities more inclusively.

What Is The LSSPCC Toolkit?

The LSSPCC Committee has worked hard to develop a brand new resource for librarians and library works to develop or enhance your knowledge about serving special populations.  Launched earlier this year, this easy-to-use Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workers is available FREE online and can be downloaded or saved as a PDF file.  Whether you are just getting started learning about serving special populations of children and their families or want to brush up on the latest resources, this toolkit is for you!

What Special Populations Does the Toolkit Cover?

This toolkit offers a wide variety of information about serving many different types of groups in your library community, including homeschoolers, spanish-speaking families, LGBTQ families, children with autism, children with incarcerated parents, children with print disabilities, and more.  While this is by no means an exhaustive list of special populations that are served in all of our library communities, it’s a great place to start.

Why Is This Toolkit Useful?

In this toolkit, you will find a brief introduction in each section, which will provide librarians and library workers with context and background information needed before beginning to serve these groups in your community.  In addition, each section has a list of subject headings and keywords that will help make catalog and online searching on this topic a lot easier.  We have included short lists of subject area experts, if you are interested in connecting with people in our field and finding out more about that particular area of outreach.  We have even included information about existing partnerships, which are examples of the successes some libraries have found connecting with local organizations to serve these special populations. There are numerous lists of additional print and digital resources for further learning beyond the toolkit itself.


We hope you will share this resource with your library staff.  Through advocacy and awareness of various special populations, we can work together to help all children and all families feel welcome at our libraries!


This post was written by Renee Grassi. Renee is the Youth Department Director at the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  She is also a member of ALSC’s LSSPCC Committee.  In 2012, she was recognized by Library Journal as a Mover & Shaker for her work serving children with autism and other special needs.  She is also one of the co-founding members of SNAILS, a state-wide networking group in Illinois for librarians and library staff who discuss and learn about expanding library services to those with special needs.  As a proud ALSC member and a former ALSC Blogger, she has written on the blog about a variety of topics related to inclusive library services. 

The post The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library as of 7/4/2015 1:16:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. United Way-Partnerships that create Partnerships

Have you ever wondered-“Where can I get help with a big initiative in my library? Who would be a partner that can stretch beyond our walls and bring more partners to the table?” We have found this partner with our local United Way. With a new focus at the national level, the United Way has changed. With dedication to providing good education, financial stability, and healthy and strong communities, local United Ways are reaching out to their communities more than ever. Our local United Way responded to a county wide assessment that pinpointed three areas that we as a community needed to focus on-Early Literacy, Mental Health, and Low-Income families. The library was a natural partner with early literacy. We now have a partnership with United Way of Medina County that is funding our R.O.C.K.S. Program (Reading Opportunities Create Kindergarten Success). Medina County R.O.C.K.S. is an interactive workshop for parents and their kindergarten-age children. Parents listen to informational speakers while the children enjoy interactive learning and then parents and children complete a reading readiness activity together. Families receive materials to take home to practice, books, and much more!
Our United Way also partnered with us on our One Book, One Community initiative. They came to the table with the idea to collect enough copies of the book Wonder to give to every sixth grader in our county. They did it and collected over 2500 copies of the book. This is where the United Way has been most effective as a partner for us, reaching businesses and making those connections that otherwise we could not. The executive director at the time told me that asking businesses to donate books to kids was their easiest project. It was easy to convince individuals and businesses to support reading, especially a book that has the message of being kind. Choosing this book was our library response to the health assessment that indicated that 17% of the youth in our county in 2012 had seriously considered suicide.
I encourage you to seek out your local United Way and sit down and talk about how you can partner together. It has been a beautiful relationship for both the United Way of Medina County and the Medina County District Library and because of the United Way, we have found new partnerships. Check out their website at www.unitedway.org.

Holly Camino is manager of the Buckeye Branch at the Medina County District Library in Medina, OH. She is serving on the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture Committee, the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee, 2014-2016, and a Member of the ALA Committee on Membership Meetings 2015-2017. Holly is also a 2013 recipient of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times and American Library Association, “I Love My Librarian Award”.

The post United Way-Partnerships that create Partnerships appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on United Way-Partnerships that create Partnerships as of 5/20/2015 1:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive

Youth services library staff have summer reading on the brain this time of year. My library is always looking for ways to make our summer reading program  as accessible and inclusive as possible. Renee Grassi’s post inspired me to create this list, 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive!

  1. Start by becoming familiar with materials in alternative formats. Examples include large print books or braille and audio materials.

  2. For patrons seeking sensory experiences while reading, look into having volunteers create tactile books. This can even be a craft program during the summer so that kids can create their own original books to interact with.

  3. Allow flexibility within the program when measuring success. For some readers, it may be more encouraging to define each “level” not by number of books read but amount of time spent reading or being read to.

  4. Determine if you can provide your summer reading program through the mail. My library mails braille and audio materials via the USPS to all our patrons. For our summer reading program, we send prizes, event calendars and more to the youth who have registered. This way, patrons who can’t visit the library can still take part in the program.

  5. Communicate with special education staff  at your local schools to see about outreach opportunities. These contacts will benefit you long after the conclusion of your summer reading program.

  6. Think of ways the summer reading program’s theme can be inclusive. This year, we’re focusing on heroes of all kinds. For the children at my library, we took this idea beyond Hollywood superheroes. For our patrons, a hero may be a teacher of the visually impaired, a service animal or the postal carrier who delivers their books to them.

  7. Review the way that participants report their progress. Are they using a log? Is there a website online they can make updates to? Make sure you provide options so that all kids feel comfortable registering and updating you on their progress!

  8. If your summer reading program involves storytimes, select books for an inclusive audience. There are many posts on the blog with great suggestions (here and here for starters) and also lists on Goodreads, like this one.

  9. When selecting the prizes your library uses for summer reading, make sure they are as inclusive as possible. In the past, my library has taken into consideration how tactile a prize is, if the object is high contrast and if it suits a wide age range.

  10. Communication is key. Use flyers and word of mouth to spread the word. Make sure your community knows that your library is a place where children of all abilities can take in the fun of summer reading.

  11. Bonus tip: Make sure you have fun while making your programs inclusive! :)

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? What does your library do to increase its inclusiveness?


Courtesy photo from Jordan Boaz

Jordan Boaz is the Children’s Librarian for the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of the New York Public Library. She regularly plans innovative, inclusive programming and outreach for children with disabilities. Jordan is experienced with story times, summer reading programs and reader advisory. She currently serves on the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee. She can be reached at [email protected]


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

The post 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Quick and Easy Storytime Adaptations

In storytime, we often serve groups of participants with widely varying physical abilities.  This may or may not be obvious; a wheelchair is visible, but many other variables, such as Juvenile Arthritis, aren’t.  Offering options and adaptations for physical movement accompanying songs and games is key to ensuring accessibility for all participants.

One of my favorite preschool storytime songs is Tick-Tock; many participants stand up, hold their arms out at their sides, and rock back and forth as we sing.  I introduce the song this way: “Some people like to stand during this song.  Others like to sit on the floor or in a chair!  You choose where you’d like your clock to be today.  Grown-ups, you might like to hold your child and rock him or her back and forth as we sing.”  By providing options, we’ve made it possible for everyone to participate in the activity.  We’ve also made it possible for babies, who may be attending with older siblings, to participate in the song, by having caregivers rock them.  I vary my demonstration of this song.  Sometimes I stand, and other times, I sit on the floor or on a chair, showing a variety of methods of moving to this song.  By doing this, I’m demonstrating that there isn’t just one correct method.

What are some of your favorite adaptations for storytime activities?

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton Public Library in Middleton, Wisconsin.  She is a member of the ALSC Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

The post Quick and Easy Storytime Adaptations appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Quick and Easy Storytime Adaptations as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations

Earlier this week ALSC held an online forum to continue the Day of Diversity conversation from Midwinter. I chair the committee, Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers, so I thought about the conversation in terms of special populations served by our libraries. “Special populations” is rather weird terminology (“underrepresented” may be a better term). What is considered a special population really depends on each library’s community. A special population in Richmond, CA may not be a special population in Nashville, TN. Even within a city, special populations may vary from branch to branch.

Forum attendees generated lots of suggestions about how to make our libraries more diverse, welcoming places for everyone in the community. This is a huge task – one that requires ongoing assessment to learn who is underrepresented in your community and at your library, one that requires ongoing training of library employees. To this end, I searched library-related continuing education websites for upcoming professional development opportunities focused on services or resources for diverse or underrepresented populations.

Here are some upcoming professional development opportunities:

Library Juice Academy
Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca
March 2-27, 2015 $175
“Participants will discover new books, rhymes, songs, plans and resources that they can immediately put to use in their bilingual storytime programs.”

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Technology Planning for Patrons with Disabilities – Where Do I Start?
March 12, 2015 FREE
“Learn about resources…including low-cost or free basic assistive equipment [to] download immediately.”

University of Wisconsin – Madison
Library Services for the Hmong Community
March 10, 2015 FREE
This webinar will discuss “barriers that prevent Hmong from using libraries and share the Appleton Public Library’s successful outreach strategies for reaching out to Hmong patrons.”

Improving Library Services for People with Disabilities
March 2-29, 2015 Registration fee varies
Attendees “will review the current level of service to people with disabilities then explore materials and sources that provide additional support or new ideas.”

Spice it Up with Pura Belpre!
April 30, 2015 Registration fee varies
In this session attendees will learn about these award-winning titles and “discover how they enhance multicultural collections as well as contribute to instructional strategies.”

These are but a few online opportunities for you to learn more about diverse populations that may seek library services in your community. Another way to learn is to get out of the library and into your community. Attend cultural meetings, local chapter meetings of the (insert special population here) association, and special events. Think about who you don’t see in your library and find a way to learn more about that population. Then make a plan for proactively invite them in.

Africa Hands is chair of the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee and author of Successfully Serving the College Bound (ALA Editions). She’s @africahands on Twitter.

The post Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations as of 2/27/2015 10:26:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Resources for Serving Special Populations

One of the things that I love about librarianship is that it’s a dynamic profession. It is an evolving field that challenges us to continuously learn and grow in our professional development to better serve our communities.  As a member of ALSC’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee, we have a specific goal to advocate for special populations children and their caregivers.  We strive to discover, develop, and disseminate information about materials, programs and facilities that are available at the library for these groups of patrons.  One of the things that we suggest is that library staff at all levels participate in continuing educational programs and classes about serving these special populations.  Here is a current list of online resources available through ALSC, ASCLA, YASLA, and Webjunction for you to help you grow in awareness and competency in this area.

Be sure to also check out ALSC’s list of Professional Tools for Librarians Serving Youth.  You’ll find a lot of great information about access, advocacy, diversity, public awareness, and more.


Renee Grassi, LSSPCC Committee Member

0 Comments on Resources for Serving Special Populations as of 12/6/2014 12:37:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Serving Adults with Special Needs in the Children’s Library

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about serving adults with special needs as a children’s librarian. I work at a large urban library and we have the luxury of having a specific children’s library area. Our policy states that you must be with a child or using children’s materials to be in the children’s library. This policy makes it clear that an adult with special needs can come into look for materials, but does allow for some grey areas. Here are a few related questions I’ve been pondering…

  • What if an adult with special needs doesn’t feel comfortable in the adult parts of the library and would rather hang out in the children’s area?
  • What if they want to attend a storytime that might be developmentally appropriate, but not age appropriate? How about registering for a developmentally appropriate summer reading program?
  • Should we let them use our children-only internet computers or play on our iPads and AWE touchscreens?
  • What happens if an adult makes a caregiver or child uncomfortable?

Serving adults with special needs can be difficult in many situations because the individuals without guidance are often in the most need of programming and services. In addition, some may be experiencing homelessness, adding another layer to the equation. Other barriers to providing targeted programming can include transportation, variety of developmental abilities, and marketing.

All of this makes me wonder…

  • How does your library handle the information and service needs of this special population?
  • How do you balance the needs and comfort of children/families with those of adults with special needs?
  • Do you have a designated person who provides programming for this population?
  • Do you have programs targeting this special population or do you make your regular children’s offerings more inclusive? (For an excellent example of targeted programming, check out the Sensory Storytime for Special Needs Adults provided by Durham County Library, NC.)

I don’t have the answers to these questions, as they are community-, library-, individual-specific. But I’m interested to hear how you handle situations such as these in your children’s areas. What other kinds of challenges or successes have you come across? Any words of advice for other librarians?


Amy Seto Musser Amy has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University and is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/ & http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

0 Comments on Serving Adults with Special Needs in the Children’s Library as of 9/6/2014 1:44:00 AM
Add a Comment
17. Could a Child With a Disability Use Your MakerSpace?

There’s a wonderful article in the March 10, 2014 issue of People magazine called “A Helping Hand for a Friend” http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20795392,00.html.

It’s the story of a 17-year-old boy who used plans for a Robohand from www.thingiverse.com and the 3-D printer at his local library to make a prosthetic hand for Matthew Shields, a nine-year-old family friend who was born without fingers on his right hand.  Awesome and heartwarming, and way beyond what most librarians think of when they introduce this technology.

boy_makerspace(The original story, picked up by People, was covered by KCTV in Kansas City http://www.kctv5.com/story/24717704/teen-uses-3-d-printer-to-make-hand-for-boy. This photograph of Matthew Shields using his hand is reprinted with permission from KCTV.)

I loved the article, and it got me thinking…with or without a prosthetic hand, would someone like Matthew be able to use the library’s 3-D printer?  What if he were blind, or if he had ADHD or autism instead of a physical disability?  I would guess that few librarians who are now providing 3-D printers or offering MakerSpaces are asking those questions and making sure that the answers are “yes”.

Right now, MakerSpaces are all the rage in the library world. They are a wonderful way to introduce new technologies and to provide a new outlet for creativity, learning and community engagement.  But they are not for everyone, even in the libraries where they exist, though they can serve more community residents if accessibility becomes one of the considerations when designing MakerSpaces and Maker programs or when introducing new technologies like 3-D printing.

A couple of libraries are taking the lead in bringing Making to people with disabilities in their communities. One is the public library in Washington, DC. For example, in 2013 four students supervised by assistant professor Mega M. Subramaniam from the University of Maryland, collaborated with a team from FutureMakers (www.kidsmakethingsbetter.com) on a MakerSpace event for individuals with cognitive disabilities and visual impairments at a branch of the library. They introduced a number of accessible MakerSpace projects, including building and testing flying machines made from craft materials and designing tracks for a marble run. The students who worked on this project were so enthusiastic about it that they’ve written and are trying to publish a guide for librarians who want to design similar accessible MakerSpace projects.

Another library that has entered the arena is Brooklyn Public. They have offered robotics, CAD (computer aided design) graphic novels and Legos MakerSpace programs for tweens and teens and made sure that kids with disabilities could participate.

kids_makerspace(Brooklyn Public Library makes STEAM programming accessible for tweens with and without disabilities. This photo is used with permission from librarian John Huth, The Child’s Place for Children With Special Needs, Brooklyn Public Library.)

When librarians think about accessibility, what usually comes to mind is a person using a wheelchair who may need wide aisles between book stacks and a ramp to reach the library door. But that is a limited view. Several years ago, I participated in a disability awareness workshop called “It Takes More Than a Ramp”, and this has never been truer than in this age of MakerSpaces and advanced technology.  It does take more than a ramp to serve those in our communities with learning differences or physical challenges.  It takes a little thought and a little conversation with them or their caregivers, and a little ingenuity to see how things can be tweaked to make them work for everyone.  But, the extra time and effort is worth it. After all, just think about what the Matthew Shieldses of the world will be able to accomplish with the help, not only of a talented neighbor, but also of a friendly and accessibility-conscious librarian.

Barbara Klipper is a youth services librarian, consultant and advocate for library services for children and teens with disabilities. She is also a former chair of the ALSC Library Service for Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee. ALA Editions published her 2014 book, Programming for Children and Teens With Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 Look for a version of this post, including additional resources for programming in the Fall 2014 issue of Children and Libraries.

0 Comments on Could a Child With a Disability Use Your MakerSpace? as of 8/2/2014 6:16:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. Braille and Talking Book Libraries

It seems lately that the blogs and listservs I’m reading have all started a conversation about focusing more on improving literacy for students with disabilities. One way to help your patrons who may not be receiving the help they need is to point them towards your local NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) library.

When I tell people that I work at a braille and talking book library, there are typically two reactions: people have no idea we exist and/or they have the misconception that we only provide materials for people who are blind. One of my library’s biggest initiatives is to raise awareness about our services and our target populations. In short, we specifically provide talking books and magazines and braille for people of all ages who are blind, visually impaired, or are otherwise physically unable to read standard print which includes organic reading disabilities.

Each state in the US has at least one library that provides materials to patrons who qualify for the NLS service (Find your local NLS library). To obtain service, a patron simply needs to fill out an application that’s very similar to the traditional library card application that most libraries use.

From there, patrons will be mailed a machine and talking books (pictured) or braille books based on their reading preferences. We customize the service to that patrons can receive materials automatically based on favorite authors, genres, reading levels or topics or we can send them books only when they specifically ask for a title. All of the materials are postage paid and members of the service just need to use the USPS to return them to their NLS library.

Many of the libraries that are part of the NLS network also have programming for their patrons including support groups, musical programs, art workshops and children’s activities suitable for those who qualify for the NLS service.




Jordan Boaz is the Children’s Librarian for the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of New York Public Library. She regularly plans innovative, inclusive programming and outreach for children with disabilities. Jordan is experienced with story times, summer reading programs and reader advisory. She currently serves on the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee. She can be reached at [email protected]

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

0 Comments on Braille and Talking Book Libraries as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Boys and Girls

In the March 16, 2014 edition of The Independent, literary editor Katy Guest announced that the newspaper would no longer review gender-specific books. “Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys.”

Wilsdon, Christina, and Alecia Underhill. For Horse-Crazy Girls Only: Everything You Want to Know About Horses. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2010. Print.

Feiwel and Friends, 2010.

I have mixed feelings about the newspaper’s decision to reject gender-specific books because I feel that it borders on censorship.There are some high quality children’s books that might go unread if other reviewers follow suit. For example, Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read series of paperback anthologies includes stories by award-winning authors Margaret Peterson Haddix, Jarret J. Krosocska, and Walter Dean Myers. One of my favorite MG nonfiction books is  Christina Wilsdon’s For Horse-Crazy Girls Only.Yes, the cover is pink and the title is unfortunate, but the book is well written, organized, informative, and fun to read.

Walden Pond, 2011

Walden Pond, 2011.

However, I do respect the editor’s desire to protect children who may not identify with their gender’s stereotypes. What can we do to make sure all children feel welcome in the library? I asked journalist and radio personality Fran Fried for her perspective.

Journalist, Fran Fried.

Journalist, Fran Fried.

 How can libraries better serve transgender youth?

Fran: Well, there are more books available. There are adult titles such as Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness and Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoirs She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders and I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted. There have been a couple of books for younger readers and their parents. In 2009, a Seattle mother, Cheryl Kilodavis, wrote a picture book called My Princess Boy: A Mom’s Story About a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress Up. Last fall a Southern California mother, Lori Duron, wrote Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Slightly Effeminate, Possibly Gay, Totally Fabulous Son based on her blog of the same name. The best things a library can do, I believe, are:

  1. Make books available for trans youths and their parents who may or may not be struggling with a child’s transition
  2. Treat the trans books the same way you would any other books–place them in the stacks as you would any nontrans literature and let people find them… A little subtlety goes a lot further than neon arrows.

Next, I spoke with Rebecca Chapin, the founder and program manager of the Transgender Initiative at the LGBT Center of Raleigh. She offered expert advice on how to make libraries more welcoming. One simple thing we can do is to add a space on library card applications for “preferred name.” Not enough room on the form for this extra line? Omit the gender question.


Today’s post was written by Rebecca Hickman, ALA ALSC Committee Member, Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers


0 Comments on Boys and Girls as of 6/7/2014 1:59:00 AM
Add a Comment
20. What Do You Mean by Special Population?

Created using Tagxedo

Created using Tagxedo

Since I started serving on the Committee for Library Services to Special Population Children and their Caregivers I am often asked, “What do you mean by special population?” The more I think about this question, the more I realize that the answer is far from straight forward.

Defining Special Populations

The term “special population” covers a wide range of communities, from ESL students to children with incarcerated parents. Other special populations can include children who::

  • live with foster families
  • live with single, separated, or divorced parents
  • live in remote or difficult to reach areas (urban, suburban, or rural)
  • have learning, physical, or mental disabilities/differences
  • are homeless
  • are adopted
  • are mixed race
  • are in the juvenile justice system
  • are part of the LGBTQ community
  • come from various cultural/ethnic backgrounds

This is by no means a complete list of special populations. These categories are not exclusive; some children belong to two or more special populations at the same time.

Your Community

Research your community to identify special populations in your particular area. Just because a special population exists in the world does not mean that it exists in your community. Also, keep your eyes open as your community changes to see if a special population emerges over time.


In some cases identifying members of a special population can be obvious due to appearance. A  child/caregiver might also mention it during a conversation at storytime or during a reader’s advisory interaction. In other cases, it is not so obvious. Sometimes the child and/or caregiver will not readily share information about the communities to which they belong. They may be embarrassed, scared, or just value their privacy. As much as you want to help a patron, remember to respect their choices and privacy as you would in any other situation.

There are two major ways to begin connecting with special populations in a respectful yet helpful manner. The first is to talk with a self-identified caregiver who is willing to give you feedback on desired services and programs. Ideally, talking to one caregiver will lead you to communicating with more caregivers so you can gain a wide range of ideas and needs. The second method is to start a community partnership with an organization already known and trusted by the target special population. Both ways allow you to gain insight into the special population from an insider.

Services and Programs

As you plan, consider the pros and cons of exclusive programs and services. Reaching your targeted audience is the goal, but that does not always mean you have to exclude other patrons at the same time. For instance, how can you adapt your regular storytime to be more accessible and enjoyable for ASD children? On the other hand, some programs, such as book clubs for children in the juvenile justice system, are necessarily exclusive. Remember that sometimes pointing out differences is more harmful than helpful. Clearly, there is not one correct answer here. Make informed choices based on your community and ask members of the community what they think/want/need.


There are a lot of special populations to consider, but do not be intimidated! Start by identifying one or two populations in your community and go from there. Remember that all patrons are individuals, not just members of one group or another. Creating services and programs for special populations is really just a way to make sure the library is accessible and welcoming to everyone.

For more resources to get started serving special populations, check out Renee Grassi’s post, “Learning about Serving Special Needs Populations”, as well as Amy Johnson’s post, “Serving Special Population Children in the Library…How Do We Get Started?” You can also search the ALSC blog for posts using the keywords “special populations.”


Amy Seto Musser Amy has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University and is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/ & http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

0 Comments on What Do You Mean by Special Population? as of 5/3/2014 1:13:00 AM
Add a Comment
21. Mandatory Reporting

As librarians we know that April is ‘National Poetry Month’ but did you know that it’s ‘Stress Awareness Month’ or ‘National Donate Life Month’? With so many monthly designations it’s hard to keep up. We become saturated with “awareness” and can overlook educational opportunities that are important in our profession.

April is ‘National Child Abuse Prevention Month’, a time to be aware that we all play a part in the emotional and physical well-being of the children around us. As librarians many of us are considered employed in “positions of trust” and are subjected to background checks and periodic drug screenings. But as our relationships with our communities expand we should always be aware of our expanded responsibilities. Do you meet regularly with your law enforcement agencies? Do you have a clear process for incident reporting and follow up? Can you recognize the signs of abuse in children and families? Do your local health departments offer training in this area? Are you a mandated reporter? These are things that you should be asking yourself and your administration.

Mandatory reporting efforts began as early as the 1960’s when the U.S. Children’s Bureau sponsored a conference aimed at the growing concerns around the effects of child abuse. Between 1963 and 1967 every state and the District of Columbia passed a child abuse reporting law. But as awareness and conditions expanded so did policies and statutes and by 1987 almost every state included sexual assault as part of the abuse, as well as mental and emotional abuse as well as neglect. (1)

Mandatory Reporting is becoming a hot topic in light of recent high profile abuse cases. Here in the District of Columbia, where I am a librarian, city council legislation passed in 2012 requires any adult who knows – or has reason to believe – that a child age 16 or younger is being abused is required to report the incident to the police or the city’s Child and Family Services Agency. This is a change from mandatory reporters being strictly “positions of trust”. In the wake of the Penn State scandal, More than 100 bills on the process of reporting of child abuse or neglect were introduced in 30 states and the District, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with 18 states instituting a universal reporting law. (2)

Take time this month to be proactive, make yourself aware of the laws and statutes of your state. Below are some valuable resources that can help inform you and your staff, as well as spark conversation between your library and other service agencies.

Resources to consider:

The Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the general public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more. Make sure to click on their “state specific resource” link. They also produce valuable fact sheets and handouts.

Founded in 1959 by Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, Childhelp® is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.

The Child Abuse Prevention Center is a national and international training, education, research and resource center dedicated to protecting children and building healthy families.

Family Resource Information, Education and Network Development Services (FRIENDS), the National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP), provides training and technical assistance to Federally funded CBCAP Programs. This site serves as a resource to those programs and to the rest of the Child Abuse Prevention community.

Don’t forget to reach out to your local Health Department and Child Services Agencies, they will have the most recent and local information for your community.

(1) Hutchison, E. D. (1993). Mandatory reporting laws: child protective case finding gone awry?. Social Work, 38 56-63

(2) Craig, T. (2012, Nov 16). Council advances bill expanding rules for reporting child sex abuse. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1152062603?accountid=46320

Lesley Mason, ALA ALSC Committee Member, Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers and Children’s Librarian at DC Public Library

0 Comments on Mandatory Reporting as of 4/5/2014 2:43:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Attracting Users to An Inclusive Space

One of my favorite parts about my job are the school tours that I give each month. The students come to learn what makes our library different – from providing braille and talking books to accessible technologies to our recording studio. Lately, the most common conversation I’m having is making me a little sad.

Parents and teachers alike have apologized for their children with disabilities needing a few extra moments to acclimate themselves to a new environment with so much stimuli. From a teacher whispering to me “Oh, we’re an inclusive class. I should have warned you”, to parents quickly rushing their child out when they begin to get loud, I worry that my library isn’t representing itself as the inclusive space that it is. If a space is inclusive but no one knows about it, it isn’t really serving the intended community.

Of course, the easiest way to combat this is to have the conversation right then and there. I explain that our library, especially our children’s room, are welcome to children of all abilities no matter what kind of day they’re having. We talk about the programming we have for children with special needs and I invite everyone to come back at another time that works for them.

I try to target my outreach to schools, programs and organizations that work with families of children with special needs so that they’re aware of what we do before they even visit. We’re also trying out new ways to advertise our programs including advertising them in our newsletter, putting signs in our windows for people walking in the neighborhood to see and creating listings on sites that advertise accessible spaces.

I know social stories have been a valuable tool for other libraries trying to spread the word about their inclusive spaces. I have also heard that including clip art of people with special needs in your advertising materials has been encouraging.

What are some ways you let the teachers and other visitors know that your space is inclusive?



Jordan Boaz is the Children’s Librarian for the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of New York Public Library. She regularly plans innovative, inclusive programming and outreach for children with disabilities. Jordan is experienced with story times, summer reading programs and reader advisory. She currently serves on the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee. She can be reached at [email protected]

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

0 Comments on Attracting Users to An Inclusive Space as of 3/1/2014 12:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. A Year of Advocating for Special Populations and Their Caregivers

December is an exciting time for the Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee as we begin to review applications for the ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant. Reviewing applications is a wonderful way to learn about the accessibility and literacy challenges facing children and their caregivers throughout the U.S.  It’s also an opportunity to learn about and support the creative programming happening in our libraries to meet their needs and help them feel at home in the library.

In addition to the grant, committee members remain busy writing about library services to special populations for the ALSC blog. This year, we’ve written about welcoming LGBTQ families into the library, providing fun financial literacy education during storytime, and getting started as a new librarian serving special needs populations. Committee members have also highlighted books to celebrate National Adoption Month and suggested ways the library can get involved with Hunger Action Month.

Contributing to the ALSC blog is the committee’s way of increasing awareness around these and many other important issues facing our library patrons. We see it as a way of advocating for those who aren’t always top of mind when it comes to services. What I love about this particular work of the committee is that we’ve written about the many faces of special populations, recognizing that special populations are not limited to those with disabilities. We hope our posts inform and inspire the work of fellow librarians, and we look forward to continuing this work. Stay tuned for more blog posts and activities from the committee.

And, if you’re interested in collaborating feel free to contact any committee member listed below:

Jordan Boaz

Sara E. Hathaway

Rebecca Anne Hickman

Lesley Mason

Amy Seto Musser

Amanda Struckmeyer


Posted by Africa Hands, Librarian, Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee Chair.

0 Comments on A Year of Advocating for Special Populations and Their Caregivers as of 12/7/2013 12:17:00 AM
Add a Comment
24. 1 in 5 Children

1 in 5 children in the United States are living with child hunger or food insecurity according to Feeding America, the leading domestic food-relief charity.  1 in 5 children.

But it doesn’t stop there, nearly 1 in 3 African American children are struggling with food security issues and more than 1 in 3 Latino children live in food insecure homes.  Latino households are also less likely than their African American or white, non-Hispanic, counterparts to receive federal support from programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program).

Think of the kids you see every day.  On average, if you see 20 kids at your library in one day, 4 are struggling with food security issues at home.  Although ratios vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, child hunger exists in every community.

“Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low 2.4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 35.2 percent in Holmes County, MS.”

– Gundersen, C., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., Satoh, A., & Chawla, N. (2013). Map the Meal Gap 2013.  Feeding America.

Hunger Action Month

September is Hunger Action Month.  Join Feeding America, Together, We Can Solve Hunger TM and a nationwide network of food banks to raise awareness and encourage your community to take action against hunger.

  • Organize a local Hunger Awareness Day at your library or organization.  Wear orange to show your support, get the media involved, and collect items for a local food pantry.
  • Share your community’s hunger statistics in as many ways as you can this month – on your library website, Facebook, Twitter, local newspapers, posters, etc.
    • Check out the interactive Map the Meal Gap map to find out more about how your county compares to others in the nation.
  • Take the SNAP challenge.  Can you live on $4.50 for an entire day?  That’s the average daily assistance provided to individuals enrolled in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
  • Collaborate with your local food bank.  Is there a way you or your library can volunteer time or resources to support hunger needs in the community?
  • Be creative.  What else can you do to raise awareness on this issue in your library and community?  Could you collaborate with local WIC offices? What about a nutritionist on healthy meal planning?  What other food-related issues could you address?

Looking for other great ways to get involved?  Check out Feeding America or this great wiki of ideas from Adult Services in Allegheny County Libraries.

We all have a job to do in helping to get food to those in need.  What can your library do this month to stop a child from going to bed hungry?


Sara Hathaway, Money Smarts for Preschoolers, Columbus Metropolitan Library, and ALSC Committee Member, Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers.


0 Comments on 1 in 5 Children as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment