Libraries Receive Grant Funding to Serve People with Autism

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The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grant committee is proud to announce two first-year grant winners.  Applications were submitted from 57 libraries in 22 states, proposing a wonderful range of programs and initiatives that would benefit individuals with ASD and their families. Proposals were received from very small libraries in rural areas and from large urban systems. The majority came from public libraries, but academic and special libraries were also represented. The proposed projects ranged from the innovative and adventurous to the tried and true, and all sought to make a meaningful impact on the lives of people with autism in the communities they serve.

The Autism Welcome Here Grant is sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected (www.librariesandautism.org), and honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism co-founder Meg Kolaya for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community. Each year a total of $5000.00 will be awarded. This year’s winners will receive their awards at the *Targeting Autism Forum, held on March 10, 2016 at the Illinois State Library, where they will introduce their projects to other librarians and representatives of organizations serving people with ASD.

“We really didn’t know what to expect this first year out”, said Dan Weiss, Libraries and Autism co-founder and Autism Welcome Here committee member. “We were overwhelmed by the response we got and the quality and variety of the proposals made it a very challenging decision.”

However, after careful deliberation, two applications rose to the top of the pile. Both proposed an innovative and clearly described program that could be replicated in other libraries and communities. Collaboration with community stakeholders was also a key element of both programs. The two winners are: the Judith J. Carrier Library at the Tarrant County College Southeast Campus in Arlington, TX and the Simsbury (CT) Public Library.

The community college library in Texas will initiate the Autism Spectrum College Information Talks (ASCIT) Project, offering a series of presentations and other resources to help caregivers support students with ASD make a successful transition to postsecondary education. The Simsbury PL program will create a supportive and welcoming environment for young children with ASD and their peers, in the form of an inclusive bimonthly playgroup called Everybody Plays. Their proposal also includes a staff-training component, which will ensure that program facilitators and other library staff will be able to provide exceptional library services to the local ASD community.

Autism Welcome Here creator and committee member Barbara Klipper said, ”The incredible response we received demonstrates both the extent of the need and the desire of many librarians to better serve people with ASD in their communities.  We wish we could have funded more initiatives, but it is our hope that unsuccessful candidates, and even libraries that didn’t apply, will be inspired by the grant to seek out other funding possibilities or to find creative ways to serve this population within existing budgets”.

The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” committee extends their congratulations to the 2016 grant recipients and to all the libraries that submitted proposals.

Applications for the 2017 grant(s) will be accepted starting in September 2016. More information about the grant can be found at www.librariesandautism.org/grant.


*The Targeting Autism Forum was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library






Award winning authors to appear at the March Targeting Autism Forum!

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John Donvan, a multiple Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC and the moderator of the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate series, and Caren Zucker, a Peabody award winning television news producer and co-writer of the six-part PBS series “Autism Now,” will make an appearance at the State Library’s Targeting Autism Forum on Friday, March 11, to talk about their new landmark book, “In a Different Key: The Story of Autism.” The book has received countless accolades. The Washington Post calls “In a Different Key,” “Remarkable, a riveting tale about how a seemingly rare childhood disorder became a salient fixture in our cultural landscape.” Temple Grandin says, “It is essential reading for anyone who is interested in how society treats those who are different”

This book talk will take place on Friday, March 11 at 10 a.m. and will be open to the public. If you will not be attending the entire forum, but would like to come for the book talk, please arrive between 9:45-10 a.m. There will be a Q & A following the talk. No books will be sold at the event, however, there will be a book signing, so feel free to bring your own copy to be signed.

The Targeting Autism Forum project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Please contact Suzanne Schriar with any questions.

Learn How to Start a Next Chapter Book Club in Your Library

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Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) is a community-based literacy program for people with developmental disabilities. NCBC groups meet all over the US in coffee shops, bookstores, and community centers, but very few meet in libraries.

Elmhurst Public Library and Skokie Public Library, in an effort to expand NCBC groups throughout libraries, have arranged to receive affiliate training in the next few weeks. There are a few openings for staff from other libraries to attend. 

Take advantage of this opportunity.  Starting an NCBC group is is a great way for your library to offer programming that engages young adults with developmental disabilities.

Training will be offered at:

Elmhurst Public Library on February 1, 9:00am-1:00pm
Contact Kristin Sanderson at kristin.sanderson@elmhurst.org

Skokie Public Library March 18, 9:00am-1:00pm
Contact Holly Jin at hjin@skokielibrary.info or 847.324.3117

You can send 1-2 staff members to the training which would make your library an affiliate site. You could then train your own staff. If you are working with a partner, someone from that community organization should also attend the training. Elmhurst and Skokie are covering the cost of the training ($550), but in order to get a NCBC going you would want to purchase start up materials cost for $200 (manual, tote bags, and a set of starter books).

If your library is unable to pay for start-up materials, you can still participate in the training with the understanding that you will not receive start-up materials. (You would still get a training folder/packet.) In this case:

a. You library may still become a Next Chapter Book Clubs affiliate if you complete and submit the Affiliate Agreement Form. Signing and submitting this Form means the organization understands the NCBC model and agrees to operate its book clubs by our Standards of Practice,
b. You may choose to start book clubs without signing the agreement, but you cannot use the Next Chapter Book Club name.

If you aren’t yet sure who is going to be the coordinator for your club, you can take the Form and Standards back to your agency/library and return the Agreement form when you are ready. In the latter case, you would receive a Resource CD after Agreement Form is received by NCBC.















57 Grants Received for “Autism Welcome Here” Program!!

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*Autism Welcome Here:  Library Programs, Services and More  is a grant program that was conceived by Barbara Klipper, librarian and author, at the session at the March 2015 Targeting Autism Forum in Springfield, IL.   According to Barbara, “…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’…”

Autism Welcome Here:  Library Programs, Services and More will fund $5000 a year for 5 years.   Barbara Klipper’s generosity and commitment to this important cause has been hugely successful, but the need for more funding is evident.

An overwhelming 57 grant applications were received from multitype libraries from many states across the U.S., including:  Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Successful applicant(s) will be selected by committee over the next couple of months.

For me, the most gratifying part of the Targeting Autism project has been this amazing network of people, like Barbara and so many others, who each day, work hard to make a difference in the lives of all those who are affected by ASD.

 *Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More  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.