It takes a community to raise a reader: Autism friendly libraries

MEARS, Sarah (2017) It takes a community to raise a reader: Autism friendly libraries. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 138 - Literacy and Reading, Libraries for Children and Young Adults, Public Libraries and School Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
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It takes a community to raise a reader: Autism friendly libraries

The public library should be a place where children feel welcomed and inspired. But for children and young people with autism and their families, a visit to a busy, noisy public library can be a challenging and even a distressing experience. However with a few adjustments, improved staff awareness and sensitivity, we can make libraries much more welcoming. In 2016 The national Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) worked with Dimensions, a not-for-profit support provider for people with autism and learning disabilities, to create a short autism friendly libraries film (funded by Arts Council England). The aim of the film was to stimulate libraries build local partnerships, reach into communities, engage with families and make sustainable improvements to services. Since the film launched in June 2016, libraries across the UK have been developing their autism friendly library offer- examples include targeted autism friendly activities, staff development and fund raising to buy sensory equipment. This paper will outline the development of a programme that for just a small national investment is supporting public libraries to make the changes that will break down barriers and encourage a reading and library culture among a group of vulnerable and often isolated children and young people.

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