Notes from July 29th Public Focus Group-ImaginOn

Staff Focus Group Discussions for PLCMC’s Strategic Plan – July 2008

Public Session # 6

ImaginOn

July 29, 2008

1. What positive things or experiences have occurred in the library?

– Opening the community rooms for dialogue, it is appreciated that places like the library exist and are open to other groups.

– ImaginOn is an incredible place that is open to kids; it is accessible to everyone in the community. There are a lot of things available for kids to do while at ImaginOn. Visually impaired child was able to get preferential seating during a show so she could participate in activities.

– Family likes to come to Main Library and use Braille books. They were excited that they could print a Braille book, this is a good thing that is offered at Main Library.

2. What challenges have occurred in Charlotte and how can the library help?

– There have been changes in many of the smaller communities, i.e. NoDa. There has been a focused energy to help the community. If libraries observe what is going on in communities, the library can help rectify some of these issues.

– The library system has received a lot of recognition for the technology it has available to the public. In the early 90s, the library became one of the first places where anyone could come in and access internet and technology.

– With the uncertainty about the future of magnet schools, the library could play a role in strengthening the schools by providing technology, books, etc. for children in the community.

3. How can the library work with the visually impaired children in the community?

– The library can provide the Duxbury System at Main Library. Currently there is no curriculum, games or stories available at Main Library for visually impaired children.

– There are no accessible PCs available at ImaginOn, Hark the Sound is a free download game that children can use to work on Braille and listening skills.

– The American Printing House for the Blind provides screening software such as JAWS and IntelliTools (which can be used at home). These programs have accessible switches for kids who are not only visually impaired but may have a physical disability as well. Kids can access stories and it also helps them hold books and turn pages.

– There are currently 69 visually impaired children in the school system, 14 of them attend a school designated for blind children. If children could check out books from North Carolina Library Services for the Blind, kids who don’t have access to books could receive them by mail. Seedlings Braille books has materials that are twin vision and sold at cost. Since ImaginOn is the children’s library, it could be centralized at this location.

4. How can the library work to provide materials for visually impaired children in the community?

– The Tar Hill Reader provides electronic books that are downloadable and free. Texas School of the Blind has an extensive list of electronic books that are broken down by AR level. If kids could get electronic Braille note takers, as the kids use the technology more, they could come to the library and download the book to their note takers and have the access to read.

– Visually impaired students in the school system are not reading age appropriate material, the Braille readers are not reading at correct level due to lack of exposure or delayed exposure to books. The best place to make these materials accessible is the library.

– The children are so scattered throughout the community it is hard to serve them at one time. If they were all served centrally at ImaginOn, since most families have more than one child, then it will be an experience for the whole family. There could also be access to Braille books via the floating collection.

– If the license for the JAWS software was purchased and the software placed on thumb drives, the drives could be kept at a central location. If a family needs to use JAWS, they could place a call to their local branch who could then request that the drive be forwarded to their location for the family to use. The only problem would be in the level of staff support who could work the software at the various locations.

– If the library partnered with the North Carolina Library Services for the Blind, staff and parents could get trained on the software that is available for the visually impaired. The community needs parents and teachers who are trained in using this material for the children and students. It would be very helpful to have a central area where training can take place.

5. How can the library help the International House and those who are learning English?

– Some families in the school system do not speak English; the International House could help since the families speak so many different languages.

– The library can promote diversity via language conversation times, books clubs and cultural activities.

– The library can help provide immigrant advocacy, providing information so that people do not fall victim of non-lawyer practitioners.

– The library could also assist people in become permanent residents and becoming naturalized citizens.

6. Scenario A: High-Tech Library

– Words used to describe this scenario are “GenX and fun,” “noisy,” and “eye-candy.”

– The idea of this library would appeal to younger audiences, younger kids are much more knowledgeable about technology and social sites, and they are more comfortable with technology.

– This type of library would be a fun place to be, it has more accessible mediums. Everything is in electronic format, more accessible with the download stations, personal or library equipment can be used.

The mediums could be accessible for visually impaired people as well as those who are in wheelchair bound and only have head control.

– Having this technology could also help people who speak other languages as well.

– With the advance of e-book readers, libraries set up like this would encourage publishers to make more books electronically.

7. What is left out of Scenario A? Who would not like this type of library?

– Special book collections are not available.

– Older adults are using technology more, but some may not use this type of library.

8. Scenario B: Book-based

– Words used to describe this scenario are “University City Branch,” “traditional library setting,” and “inviting.”

– This is the type of library where one would want to bring children. Although children will gravitate towards the PCs, the written word format is still available.

– The children’s section of this library really sticks out.

– Libraries have to have a combination of both scenarios, this is what people are looking for and it is provided in most book stores. There is a big difference now in how people want to access books.

9. How is the library’s accessibility to books?

– The library should make one time use books available. This would especially be helpful for those who are learning English and learn by writing as they read.

– More library materials should be geared towards becoming a citizen; the library should target low-income immigrants who are looking to pass the citizenship test.

– There should be resources for parent in how to parent a child who has vision loss or are blind.

10. Final Thoughts and Comments

– There is such a strong community of special needs families, the children are falling through the cracks of education. All special needs situations are unique situations and the children all deserve access to education and they are not getting this access. There is a gap in the services that are provided.

– The International House appreciates its partnership with the library. They would like to continue to grow and serve more people.

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