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libraries and autism: we're connected

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Representative Comments and Feedback

I'm glad to hear you're continuing to spread the message about services to individuals with autism through your workshops. Hopefully, other libraries will be inspired, as we were, to focus on the issue. Thanks for all your efforts!
Joyce Sands, Deputy Director
Lancaster (PA) Public Library

Thank you, in an enormous way, for all the wonderful resources and information you've made available.I was asked to teach a training session on serving people with autism because I have children with autism but I didn't know where to start. Your website has offered me so much more than just a starting point.
Kimberly Bewick, Community Librarian
Woodcroft Branch, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I wanted to write a quick thank you, and let you know that I've been referring to your website in putting together some autism awareness and inclusion lesson materials for my students! There are some wonderful resources there!
Ester Ward, HS Teacher

One thing I realized after I'd posted about your Libraries & Autism online materials (http://elvis-sightings.blogspot.com/2009/07/library-conference.html) was the absence of a certain concept in the video & website -- a most welcome absence. It was the absence of gloom and negative words that are so often used about [this horrible autism epidemic that is stealing away so many of our children, that we must fight tooth & nail, etc.] Thank you for NOT falling into that trap! I am much impressed with your work! You are doing magnificent things.
Joanne Juhnke, Librarian (and mother of a 5 year old with autism)
Data & Information Services Center (DISC)
University of Wisconsin - Madison

aka JoyMama - blogger Elvis Sightings

Im writing to commend you on this fabulous resource. Well add it to our Knowledgebase! Thank you for putting together such a great resource!
Jessica Chaiken
Media & Public Education Manager
National Rehabilitation Information Center

From the ALA ASCLA/KLAS/NOD 2009 Award Notification Letter

The Committee was deeply impressed by your project and congratulates you on the production of this valuable resource. Your initiative provides a project model from conception to completion encompassing: State Library vision and funding; able project leadership; the expertise of the filmmakers; close involvement of autism professionals and families; and aggressive, skillful promotion.
Kathleen B. Hegarty Chair, ASCLA Awards Committee

From Workshop Evaluations

The presenters did a wonderful job of illustrating the quote, "If you know one person with autism you know one person with autism" and the significance of that.

I wanted information on autism and how libraries can serve people on the spectrum - This workshop delivered!

It was really an exceptional way to increase awareness and empathy among staff.

Everything about the workshop was helpful. Warm and gracious welcome, excellent and inspiring speakers, informative handouts.
Comments from recent workshops in Massachusetts

Thank you so much for a great program! You have really put together an easy to replicate program for all public libraries. Everyone left talking about what they were going to do when they got back to work today. To me that shows great success; usually I hear "if only I had money to do that." I have also had numerous requests for the DVD this morning. I am going to look for all the Autism advocacy groups in PA to share with people, too. Thanks again,
Susan Pannebaker | Youth Services Advisor
Office of Commonwealth Libraries
Bureau of Library Development
Pennsylvania Department of Education

I am a senior librarian here and the staff viewed your video as part of our training. It was very well done and will help us in our dealings with our patrons with autism. Keep up the good work!
Patricia Heyer
Senior Reference Librarian
West Caldwell (NJ) Public Library

The Libraries and Autism project is fantastic. We plan to encourage members of the Union Middlesex County group of school librarians to view and share the excellent training CD and use it as a springboard for discussion. I personally plan to use it in my district.
Pat Massey
New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL)
Vice President, 2008 Conference Chair
South Plainfield High School Information Center

I have asked anyone on the staff who deals with the public to watch the video. More generally, I think the project had the rather simple effect of kicking me in the pants re: the issue. We are hoping to show a series of three films about autism in the fall. My wife, who is a pediatric occupational therapist, works with children with autism (see that, I didn't say "autistic children") and is screening the films we are considering. We will provide childcare during the film screenings, thanks to my wife and some other volunteers familiar with autism.
John Malar, Director
Cranford (NJ) Public Library

From Blogs

Site of the Day: Libraries and Autism
Monday April 28, 2008
Site of the Day: Libraries and Autism
If you've stayed away from your local public library out of fear of stern librarians, disapproving patrons, and your own non-quiet child, you may be amazed to look around this site full of resources for libraries. It's specifically designed to inform library staff about autism, and train them to be not only welcoming to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, but to run interference between those families and other patrons.

The campaign, by two New Jersey libraries, includes a training video; materials like a customizable storybook about going to the library; signs, decals, and press releases to be used to advertise a library's autism-friendliness; and links to sites that can help librarians become more educated about autism and other disability issues.

Share the link to this site with those in charge of the library in your town, and offer yourself as a resource for further discussion and planning. And if you have a child with a different disability you feel has not been well accepted, maybe this can serve as a template for getting a broader program going.

Library users with special needs
via Rhodarian by Donna DiM on 6/16/08
The Rodarian
Lately I have been aware much discussion about how libraries can best serve patrons with special needs, especially how to recognize special needs and respond in a fitting manner. Of course, the more you know, the easier it is to "do the right thing."

Now there is a website chock-a-block with resources to help library staff assist people with autism as well as their families. Libraries and Autism : We're Connected is a project of two New Jersey public libraries, The Scotch Plains Public Library and the Fanwood Memorial Library. On the website there is a customer service training video for library staff, free resources, a knowledge base, and a place to email your own questions.

I learned about the website and the how the project came to fruition through a list serve posting from one of the ALA subdivisions, the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASLCA)

From Emails

I am extremely impressed by both the breadth and depth of what you've done to help libraries serve people with autism and their families. Thank you for sharing the DVD and tip sheets with me. If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Rhea Joyce Rubin
Library Consultant, Author, Trainer

Oakland, CA

We are very interested in receiving a bumper sticker, if you still have them. We love that our public serve providers are making this wonderful effort to expose people to what Autism looks like. Keep it up and let's hope this way of thinking spreads.
Leah Porta
1072 S. De Anza Blvd A107-326
San Jose, Ca. 95129

Enid Costley of the Library of Virginia sent me a link to your site because I am planning a presentation on working with people with autism in libraries at her fall conference. I would love to acquire a copy of your video both for background information for that conference and for staff training here. Is that possible? I am going to try to watch it online but will have to do it from home as our county has blocked all the fun sites like You Tube and Facebook on county work stations.

My background interest is as the mother of a 19 year-old with autism, former member of the SEAC in Prince William County, VA, 2004 graduate of Partners in Policymaking, and Advisory Council Member of Commonwealth Autism Service (formerly the Autism Program of VA of which I was one of the original board members). I'm also a NJ native, so naturally I'm pleased to see something so important and useful coming from my home state!

I hope you will allow us to list you as a resource for the librarians who will be attending the conference.
Sandra L. Givens
Youth Services Librarian
Chinn Park Regional Library
13065 Chinn Park Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22192

I watched both videos about libraries and autism and really enjoyed it. Could you please send me the decal for our library? We are a small, private, inclusion school that has many autistic children. We have just completed and opened our library, so the decal would be perfect.
Leigh Anne Sallaz
c/o Flint Academy
213 Rob Lane
Weatherford, TX 76087

Wow that is a superb video on autism and the library. I hope to show it in my upcoming Coll Dev course in June, if that is okay with you. I would like to show students a copy of the Communication Board if you have an extra. I will tell Jana about it. Maybe this can be a colloquium in the Fall for our MLS students. I hope you will be able to share it at NJLA next week.
The experts, Harris, Meyer, and Robertiello were excellent. It really is a first rate effort--right down to the professional lighting of the libraries.
Dan O'Connor, Rutgers

I really enjoyed watching the video We're Connected - Part 1 ....How do I get my local library involved?
Maria
Norwood, New Jersey

"Thank you so much and what a great idea. I'm going to watch the 2nd video. I have forwarded this email to our board members for their viewing too."
Michelle Damone
Program Manager Autism Project of Palm Beach County
5800 Corporate Way
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

I would like first to thank you for the wonderful resources you are sharing!
I watched the video and am going to share it with my colleagues. I also am taking digital photos to adapt the "This is my Library" booklet and am excited about using it.
Lynne Cutler
Services for Persons with Disabilities and for Older Adults Access Services Unit
Oakland Public Library

I want to congratulate all of you on the fabulous job that you did on the video and supplementary materials. The video is absolutely outstanding, very well done, very professional and showed realistic situations. You all look so professional and at ease in front of the camera! I used this for my annual July staff meeting which always features some CE opportunity and used the supplementary materials as well. The staff gave positive verbal reviews. You make it so easy for me! The video was very well done, very professional and showed realistic situations. Great job!
Susan Permahos, Director
Springfield Free Public Library
66 Mountain Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081

Thank you for contacting the Autism Society of America. Thank your for sending the material relating to your interesting project. I have forwarded the material on to the Information and Referral Director. She will evaluate the material and get back to your organization if there is an opportunity for collaboration. Good luck with the program.
Julia Cashmere
Autism Society of America
Information and Referral Department

Input from SurveyMonkey on the website

The materials were very well done. They were so complete that they allowed me to successfully put together an 1 1/2 workshop to provide staff with both an overview of ASD and practical customer service tips which could immediately be put into practice. Thank you for your generosity in sharing all of this wonderfully useful information.

WONDERFUL!! Thank you for a user friendly vehicle for non-spectrum people to access easily and quickly to help shed light on this highly individualized disorder!

Fantastic! Provides great information using positive, every day language that parents and older students will eaily understand. The positive approach is GREAT for families and the chidren.

I have been trying to find ways to educate people about the diverse needs of people with autism and the library. This may be a wonderful catalyst for change within our system!

As the person involved with disability training at the library, I showed the training video during a staff meeting. The staff found it very useful and I think the practical tips really helped, not just for dealing with patrons who have autism, but with any patron who may be having difficulties.

I work with a parent-to-parent resource organization that supports families of children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and I am a parent of a child with developmental disabilities. Part of my job is to provide education and outreach to help increase inclusion of children with disabilities in community settings.

It is absolutely great! Thank you so much! I also work with a science museum and, as a former scientist, I teach college students how to do science outreach. This video will be required viewing for my students and for the other outreach staff at the museum. The information in the video is quite applicable to other public settings.

I love to see the general population taking interest in learning about how to better accept my son and the many others like him.

Actually, just the fact that it exists is very encouraging. I have no connection nor knowledge of autism per se but am always made hopeful as a person when attempts are made to include all folks in our community activities.

I know very little about autism and recently had a not very good interaction with a mom and her two sons, one autistic. I didn't know he was autistic until much later, though, and would have much appreciated knowing this so I could have interacted more wisely. This video helped me get a better understanding of autism and I will watch it again.

I am currently administering an LSTA grant to improve the library materials and services for families of children with autism and learning disabilities. I was thrilled to learn of your website and project, and I'd love to incorporate many of your materials into our training workshop and marketing efforts. You've done a wonderful job and thank you SO much for sharing it!

I would change some of the protocol the library has employed for intervening with "behavior" as I believe most of it is inappropriate for the condition of autism but overall any education for public service employees is good education.

No suggestions, just a thanks for making it available to others!

Just keep working hard so that other libraries find your excellent resources!

Continue to post new links about autism research as they appear.

I think everything is great!

Show some positive things about Autism--how smart some of the people are, etc. How you can't always "tell" if someone has autism or not.

Continue to develop methods to increase participation in library use by individuals with ASD's.

The site and survey are working beautifully. I am so proud of everyone that was a part of this and the outcomes that will follow. Thanks Meg and Dan. Both of you and the partners have made a very, very big difference in the lives of so many. I can't wait for the rippling effects!!! I am so proud to work with you both.

I am the Youth Services/Special Needs consultant for a seven county public library system in north central Wisconsin. WI Valley Library Service includes 25 member public libraries.

Where people learned about the project and website:

* the Publib listserv
* I am writing a short article for our church bulletin, had some questions, went to the autismfamilytours.org website and saw the library link.
* From my director
* Publib
* My mom forwarded it to me. She works at the San Jose Library in California
* Email distribution list with a focus on resources related to developmental disabilties.
* PubLib
* from a link on Publib listserve
* www.specialchildren.about.com
* NJLA conference
* A friend and coworker emailed it to me. It was given to her by her College Professor.
* Autism board.
* Friend informed me about it.
* A co-worker
* The Welcoming Library Spaces project wiki
* I received an email on a list serve called MOSAIC....and through COSAC.
* autism group
* From interaction with the library staff.


Library Connections

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