When I became the NFLS Youth Services/Inclusive Services representative, I wasn't sure what it would entail, but I was excited to have the opportunity to work with regional staff and work to assist all of our libraries. I understood the YS portion of the role, but had no idea what to expect in the Inclusive Services (IS) sphere. Now that I know more, I'd love to share that with you.
What do you think of when someone says "Inclusive Services"? After our recent SRP meeting in Green Bay, I would have focused on those with disabilities, both physical and cognitive. What if I told you that Inclusive Services simply means services for EVERYONE?
I recently attended a retreat focusing on Inclusive Services. We discussed what it means to be inclusive, how libraries can identify ways they are already meeting the needs of their diverse patrons, and how we can become aware of opportunities to expand our vision to be truly inclusive. This diversity may or may not be visible. It may be related to gender, race, age, vision or hearing-impairment, language, mental health issues, poverty, minority status, mobility challenges, migrant status, incarceration, color blindness, or to a physical restriction to name a few. The list seems daunting, but when we remember that we all have some challenges in our lives, we can begin to view our libraries through the lens of our users. Our goal is to help libraries identify ways to better serve their communities without relying on assumptions that these circumstances are not part of our community, and also to help our patrons view the wider world beyond what they experience.
We are at the beginning of a journey that I think can be very rewarding. I look forward to being a resource for our regional staff, helping plan how to scaffold and support this journey statewide, and making sure that our small libraries have the ability to reach these goals.
- Lara Lakari
Children's Services Librarian
Marinette County Library
Little Nic Bits
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