Recommended Resource: Including Families of Children with Special Needs

banks300Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. Revised by Carrie Scott Banks from the original by Sandra Feinberg, Barbara Jordan, Kathleen Deerr, and Michelle Langa.  Chicago, IL: Neal-Schuman, 2014.

The original 1999 edition of this book was a powerful resource for creating inclusive public library services; with the explosion of technologies and the intense changes in our society’s discussion of disability since that time, purchasing the updated edition is a no-brainer for any public librarian.  For those new to the idea of creating truly inclusive spaces, or those already doing it who want more resources, this is a comprehensive handbook that addresses the basics and beyond.

The authors begin by explaining what inclusion is; as they say, “children with disabilities are often segregated from their typically developing peers because of their ‘special needs’.”  They make a powerful case that this segregation has a negative effect on not only on these children, but also on society as a whole.  Aside from the fact that serving all users is essential to the library’s mission, providing inclusive services expands the library’s user base and creates opportunities for staff development.  The book outlines the various laws requiring inclusion and how they impact libraries, and explains how libraries can support people with disabilities and their families as an informal community support, through resources, referrals, collections, and programs.  But where it really shines is in its discussion of Universal Design for Learning – the idea that providing multiple means of representation, engagement, and expression allows more users to engage with material in a comfortable way, and that this should be the norm, not the exception.

The first five chapters focus on background information, but the remainder of the book focus on the nitty-gritty: evaluating current services, analyzing staff training needs, developing key areas of the collection, involving the community, using adaptive technology, and taking advantage of electronic resources. Suggestions are offered for adapting programs and services for children with specific needs, and each chapter features copious recommended resource lists for further exploration.  Those wanting to develop more specialized services will find guidance here for developing a toy lending program or creating a Family Resource Center within the library.  Appendices include a glossary, comprehensive index, and an extensive bibliography of additional resources.  A highly recommended resource for any public librarian who wants to make every patron welcome.

One response

  1. Reblogged this on Librarian to be. . . and commented:
    Recommended reading for librarians. Everyone deserves to be included. And don’t you dare say, “it’s too hard/difficult”, we are librarians and information professionals, it is our ethical DUTY to allow access to our libraries to as many people as possible no matter who they are.

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