Libraries inclusion project expands across New South Wales, online training program launched

Libraries as Community Connectors, Plumtree’s collaboration with libraries to enhance programs and access for families of children with disability, has expanded from Greater Sydney to New South Wales. Online training is now available for participants.

Surveys conducted with parents and library staff revealed a need for change.

“I was told to not return if I couldn’t keep my child quiet for Storytime,” a parent responded. “It impacted my confidence and sunk me further into depression. I stopped looking at libraries as an option for activities with my children.”

Many staff respondents wanted training to better welcome and support families of children with disability or developmental delay at their libraries.

Developing skills and resources

A new online course developed from survey feedback and research has been released on LearnDash for project participants. Topics include:

  • Marketing and promoting inclusive programs
  • Creating an appropriate sensory environment in programs for children 0–6 years
  • Strategies to enhance learning for children of all abilities
  • Responding to discriminatory or negative comments from library customers
  • Encouraging managers and library staff to support inclusion

The course complements training and mentorships by Plumtree’s parent peer workers, who have lived experience in raising a child with a disability, and Early Childhood Intervention professionals.

Resources co-designed with libraries involved in the pilot will be available nationally at the end of the two-year project.

“Public libraries can be an intimidating place for children with disabilities and their families,” says Program Manager Anne Rauch. “We want to make them a space for community connection.”

Applications are open for libraries across New South Wales to join the pilot. Contact Marie Vlahakis marie@plumtree.org.au for more information.

Libraries as Community Connectors is funded by the Australian Department of Social Services.

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