The following message is from Barbara Klipper, author of Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ALA, 2014. Barbara is an independent library disabilities consultant and trainer. She is also a presenter at the Targeting Autism forums.
From Barbara: “I am fortunate, and grateful to have sufficient financial resources that my husband and I are able to make charitable contributions. When I’ve thought about what I want to support, the idea of up-close-and-personal giving has always appealed to me more than writing a check to an organization. Having worked at some serious nonprofits before I became a librarian (CARE, Save the Children, and United Way), I know that many of these organizations do great work, but I still prefer the idea of having a little more say about what my money funds. With that in mind, I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a small foundation, but I never got around to acting on that thought.
Then I participated in the Targeting Autism Forum in Springfield, Illinois in March 2015, and my thoughts about charitable giving began to crystalize into an idea. It was during a breakout session, when attendees met in groups based on geographic proximity. I was assisting the organizers, moving from group to group and facilitating discussions about what local libraries could do to bring stakeholders together and begin to serve people with ASD. As I circulated I heard the same refrain from several participants. It went something like this: “I’d love to do something, but my library is so small (underfunded, understaffed) that we just don’t have the resources to take this on.” How true I realized, especially for libraries in rural or inner city communities.
I thought about that problem after I returned home, and it led me to a possible solution, one that wouldn’t serve all of the libraries that wanted to do something but couldn’t, but that would help a few directly and maybe inspire others to find ways to begin to program for and serve this population. That solution was the development of a new grant that I would fund. I brought my idea to several other attendees of the forum, and together we formed a committee to collectively design the grant and write the application form and support materials. Named “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More,” the grant honors Meg Kolaya, a pioneer in the area of library service to people with autism and co-founder of Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. I committed to providing up to $5000 a year for five years for this purpose.
The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grants are sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. Applications will be available on that website by September (until the grant deadline on December 1), and a link will be available on this site. I hope knowledge of the this new funding source spurs librarians and community stakeholders to get creative, think seriously about what they could do if they had the money, and apply for the grants.”