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Believe it or not, the origin story of Ocean County Library’s Sensory Space begins with the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” A few years back, Jacqueline Laurita, cast member of the New Jersey franchise of Bravo’s hit show, posted a video on social media of her 8-year-old son with autism being asked to leave a library for having a brief meltdown.
Staff members at Scranton Memorial Library were given the opportunity to plan an hourlong program on any topic using any format they'd be comfortable with. We had round tables, direct presentations, Q&A sessions, group art sessions and a live demonstration of ancient Greek battle tactics.
Topics have included genealogy, retro video games, and arts and crafts.
Through ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative, 567 libraries nationwide have received grants of up to $3,000 to support community engagement efforts. After examining reports from 443 of the participating libraries, we categorized the topics of discussion to identify common themes.
One of the major issues small and rural libraries faced during the pandemic was planning programs while complying with local health guidelines. These libraries often have limited indoor space, making it difficult to maintain social distance when bringing in large groups of participants. The communities they serve may also lack reliable internet access, limiting access to virtual programming.
For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, ALA’s Sustainability Round Table set out to encourage libraries to participate with a list of fun and actionable ideas. The project — called “50 for 50,” with a goal set of 50 ideas — resulted in dozens of entries submitted by SustainRT members and friends over the coming year.