April 16, 2020 | Dr. Ruth Small, Director, Project ENABLE
Lots of changes and additions to Project ENABLE, as we begin a new year and a new decade. First, we changed the name of our blog to “The Inclusive Librarian,” a name that better fits our mission to help librarians transform their libraries, striving to offer more accessible facilities, resources and technologies and more inclusive programs and services to all patrons.
We’ve also given the Project ENABLE site a whole new look! You’ll be seeing changes and additions to our home page and to our content during the year.
Finally, the Syracuse University Project ENABLE team is excited to announce that, in the latter part of 2019, we received our fifth IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant for Project ENABLE, entitled “Library Services to Patrons with Disabilities: A Problem-Based Learning Approach.”
Over the next two years, in partnership with Infopeople, the education/training branch of Califa, a nonprofit library membership consortium, we’ll be designing a whole new collection of free, problem-based training resources for librarians. All of these resources will be available on Project ENABLE or through the Infopeople site or through our partners and collaborators, such as Targeting Autism. We’ll also be offering free courses, webinars and online discussions (through Infopeople), that incorporate these resources.
Our stellar project team includes Dr. Marilyn Arnone (co-PI), Professor of Practice/Research at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool), Lisa Barnhart, Training Coordinator at Infopeople (co-PI), Tom Hardy, CEO, Grant Systems, Inc. (Technical Director), Mary Pelich Kelly, (Trainer for Infopeople), Jennifer Thompson, Library & Information Science graduate student at Syracuse University (Research Assistant) and myself, Dr. Ruth Small, Professor Emerita and Research Professor at Syracuse’s iSchool (PI; Principal Investigator). We also have an outstanding Advisory Committee, made up of ten distinguished experts in the areas of libraries and disabilities. You can find out more about them in the About Us part of this site.
For this new project, Infopeople will create a suite of innovative online, problem-based learning options for librarians, led by our partners at Infopeople, covering a range of relevant topics and issues in the area of libraries and disabilities. These Infopeople learning opportunities will be offered at various times throughout the two-year grant period, including two offerings of a four-day online course, three Webinars based on topics of interest revealed by course participants, and three online discussions on a variety of relevant topics, springing from the courses and webinars. All offerings will be free to participants.
In addition, the Project ENABLE team will develop a range of special and unique resources on the Project ENABLE website in a section called “Train the Trainer.” This new section will contain a variety of instructional design and support materials for library directors, trainers, and professional developers who wish to offer customized, in-house training to the professional librarians, support staff and/or volunteers in their libraries.
These materials include free guides and workshop outlines and templates, based on the Infopeople courses and webinars, to help trainers create training, tailored to their learning audience, using a problem-based learning approach. The workshop outlines are customizable to allow trainers to meet the specific needs of their librarians, working in school, academic or public libraries. These detailed, half-day workshop outlines and templates allow trainers to design training that can be implemented individually or grouped together as a professional development course that is delivered over a longer time period. These outlines can be used “as is” or modified to meet specific needs. To complement these workshop designs, a set of guidelines will be included to facilitate implementation of the outlines and templates.
The workshop designs will be enhanced by a variety of original, support training materials, anchored by a set of eight brief, problem-based “challenge videos” on eight common challenges identified by the project’s Advisory Committee. The videos feature 16 professional librarians presenting authentic challenges they have faced while transforming their libraries into more accessible spaces, providing more inclusive programming and services to patrons with disabilities. Two librarians from different types of libraries (school, academic, public) will describe their unique and successful approach to solving one of the eight challenges (e.g., “Accessible Library Spaces on a Budget” and “Using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles to Guide the Design of Inclusive Programming”).
Each video will have two parts: Part I (the challenge and its context) and Part II (the solution and its outcomes). The videos can be used to stimulate conversations, initiate brainstorming sessions, or demonstrate one or more ways in which that each problem can be solved.
Other original or adapted workshop materials will help support the project’s problem-based learning approach and will include PowerPoints, pathfinders, games, exercises, activities, and training assessment instruments. Other Project ENABLE resources will be incorporated into all Train-the-Trainer materials, where appropriate.
All free project offerings and materials, as well as additional information about this project, will be made available to the library community over the two-year grant period. Information will be communicated through quarterly posts on this blog and a semi-annual newsletter, as well as updates and announcements, disseminated through a variety of communication outlets such as library organization listservs, the Project ENABLE, Infopeople and other library and disabilities-related websites, and social media. These announcements also will include upcoming opportunities for librarians across the U.S. to participate in seven new project challenge videos (to be created in late spring/early summer 2020) and to serve on our project review committee to provide feedback on the Train-the-Trainer materials.