Meg Kolaya served the community as Director of Scotch Plains Public Library, from 2002 until her retirement in 2015. Meg was a pioneer for what has become a national movement towards inclusion of all community members through her pioneering efforts with Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected . Under her leadership, Scotch Plains Public Library became the first library in New Jersey to host “Next Chapter Book Club” for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Using funding from their regional library cooperative, Meg and Dan Weiss, Director, Fanwood Public Library, NJ developed a website, a training video and embarked on a nation-wide training program, often speaking at library conferences. In 2009 Meg was presented with a national award by the American Library Association for her Libraries and Autism project.
The Targeting Autism Project would not have developed without the direction and co-leadership of Meg Kolaya and Dan Weiss and their highly esteemed program Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. Between 2013-2014, I talked with Meg, via long phone calls and Skype sessions on numerous occasions. She helped expand my understanding of all that libraries could do to be more collaborative, welcoming and a valuable resource to the autism community. Regretfully, Meg’s illness precluded any opportunity for an in-person meeting, yet I will always be grateful for her inspiration and for all the energy she gave to make libraries and the world a better place.
Meg’s legacy continues through an annual $5,000 grant sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. The first-year grant winners were present at the 2016 Targeting Autism Forum first-year grant winners were present at the 2016 Targeting Autism Forum to receive their awards.