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New Grant Moves Accessibility, Inclusiveness Training Tools Forward
The School of Information Studies and Syracuse University are taking steps forward in developing and providing a unique set of accessible and inclusive problem-based resources for librarian training through a new Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The grant is the fifth the program has awarded to Ruth Small, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor at Syracuse University and iSchool professor emerita/research professor through her groundbreaking disabilities training website for librarians, Project ENABLE (Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere). It was originally created in partnership with the Burton Blatt Institute of Syracuse University. Small also utilized Project ENABLE in collaborating with the Illinois State Library’s Targeting Autism project.
The award of $249,235 provides funding over a two-year period. The project team will develop free and accessible online train-the-trainer courses and planning guides, webinars, online discussion forums, pathfinders and a collection of training support materials for librarians on accessible and inclusive facilities, programs, resources and services for all patrons.
The project, “Library Services to Patrons with Disabilities: A Problem-Based Learning Approach,” will produce eight information videos featuring 16 school, public and academic librarians who describe authentic problems and challenges they have faced in creating library facilities and programs that are accessible and inclusive. The videos are designed to trigger discussion and creative ideas for solving those challenges. They form the centerpiece of the project’s larger mission: to provide comprehensive train-the trainer support, using a problem-based learning approach, to librarians and library administrators who wish to offer in-house staff training on this topic.
Small is principal investigator, and Marilyn Arnone, iSchool professor of practice and research associate professor, is co-principal investigator on the project. Together they are partnering with Infopeople’s Lisa Barnhart, also a co-principal investigator on the project. Infopeople is an organization that provides continuing education and professional development opportunities to library staffs throughout North America.
The initiative’s goals are to help participating librarians develop increased confidence and the ability to effectively serve the library and information needs of patrons with disabilities, to help libraries train staff in specific ways, and to widely disseminate information about the project’s training materials through a variety of national and international dissemination outlets, according to Small and Arnone.
The project’s diverse and inclusive Project Advisory Committee (PAC), a group of 10 experienced library leaders and disabilities experts from the U.S. and Canada, will provide group and individual consultation to the project team while the training and materials are being developed. The researchers will also consult with a review committee of eight school, public and academic librarians who will provide advice and feedback on all training deliverables at key points in their development. Project training and train-the-trainer resources will be iteratively designed, allowing the project team to build, test and revise deliverables throughout the grant period. All project materials will be freely accessible through the Project ENABLE website.