The Building Bridges Project

Library Services To Youth With Disabilities 2005-07

Monroe County Library System

 Librarians Reaching Youth with Disabilities

The Monroe County Library System has received a second grant to help librarians’ better serve youth with disabilities.  This two-year grant is funded by the Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.  The focus of this project has been changed from “Library Services to Youth with Developmental Disabilities” to “Library Services to Youth with Disabilities” in an effort to reach more youth, regardless of their learning needs.  The title of this project is The Building Bridges Project.

The participating libraries are Brighton Memorial Library, Chili Public Library, Fairport Public Library, Gates Public Library, Henrietta Public Library, Irondequoit Public Libraries (Evans and McGraw Branches), Ogden Farmers’ Library, Penfield Public Library, Rochester Public Library (Monroe Branch), Rush Public Library and the Webster Public Library.  The Pittsford Community Library will be joining the grant in April 2006. The grant ends in April of 2007. 

Youth, ages 3 - 21 and their families are targeted for this project.  Youth will participate in meaningful library programs to encourage language skills, promote socialization, and improve independent library skills.  Parents will gain knowledge enabling them to support their child’s growth and independence within the library.  In addition, parents will be linked to community agencies and organizations that provide services for youth with disabilities and their families.  Library staff will benefit by acquiring skills necessary to serve the target population.  Acceptance of youth with disabilities will increase for peers, adults, and library staff.

Our goals will be accomplished in the following ways:

Life-Long Library Users

A committee of librarians and parents are working together to develop programs that will enable youth to become lifelong library users.  The first of six new programs titled “Getting to Know Your Library,” will be held on September 24, 2005 at the Brighton Memorial Library.
The Henrietta Public Library will be working with Rush-Henrietta Central School District to develop a list of leveled readers and other resources to support the regular education curriculum of Social Studies.  It is our goal to help students, teachers, and family members to spend less time looking for materials and more time learning.  Grant money has been bet aside to purchase some materials.
A brochure titled the “Library Treasure Hunt” will be developed to highlight the treasures found at each of the thirty-three library buildings in the Monroe County Library System. Families are encouraged to visit each library to find their own treasures….no two libraries are the same.  Children and teens are encouraged to have their brochures stamped showing which libraries they have visited.  A vote for “Your Favorite Library” will be conducted the summer of 2006.
Teens are encouraged to volunteer at the library.  Please contact Rhonda Miga for details.

Regular Library Programs

Youth with disabilities are encouraged to take advantage of regular library programming.  Families can pick up program brochures at their neighborhood libraries.  Some libraries post upcoming events/programs on the Calendar of Events in Monroe County Public Libraries website, as well as their library’s website.  Member libraries can be found at, and then click onto Member Library Directory to find the library you would like to visit.
Click here to view a list of tips and suggestions to help parents and librarians work together to ensure youth with disabilities are included to their fullest potential.
A workshop on ways to modify programs and accommodate children and teens’ needs has been conducted with librarians.

Supporting Families

Libraries offer many services families may not be aware of today. Two informational sessions will be held each year to inform families about the services offered (from computer use to requesting a book from another library.)
Many public libraries are open after school, evenings and weekends.  Contact your local library for hours.

Strengthening Community Collaborations

The Monroe County Library System website will be a resource for families to find parent groups, agencies and organizations serving youth with disabilities and their families.  The Building Bridges Project is collecting agency information now. Click here to download the form or contact Rhonda Miga for more information. 
Community groups and organizations are encouraged to use the public meeting rooms available at many MCLS libraries to hold parent meetings and trainings.  Please contact libraries individually to find out their policy for use and to schedule the room. Call early, rooms’ book up quickly.
As a continuation of last year’s grant, community service agencies and parent groups are invited to share information about their organization with library patrons by setting up an informational table at participating libraries.  Displays will be arranged on an individual basis.  Please call Rhonda Miga for details.
A representative of The Building Bridges Project is available to speak with parent groups or agencies about upcoming library programs and developments.

Staff Training and Material Development

To support librarians and staff, many librarians and library staff are receiving training to promote awareness, understanding, and acceptance, as well as educational support.  The Building Bridges Project is collaborating with The Advocacy Center to provide a variety of educational opportunities for librarians and library staff.

Grant money has been set aside for participating libraries to purchase materials supporting children and teens with disabilities and their families.  Click here to review a list of materials purchased in 2004.

Improving Community Awareness and Acceptance

Libraries are encouraged to hold book discussions and story hours using books that support disability awareness and acceptance.  Discussions will promote the acceptance and understanding of differences. 
A committee of parents and librarians are working together to review books supporting disability awareness.  We welcome patron reviews.  Please use the “Nine Ways To Evaluate Children’s Books that Address Disability as Part of Diversity” or “Guidelines for Analyzing Books Supporting Disability Awareness” and submit your reviews to Rhonda Miga,
$500 of grant money has been set aside to bring a guest author to Rochester.  The author must have published a book that has made a significant impact toward inclusion, disability awareness, and/or acceptance of people’s differences.  The Building Bridges Project will collaborate with other community organizations to make this possible.

Parent Volunteers are needed to serve on the Life-long Library Program Development Committee and The Diversity Book Review Committee. Please contact Rhonda Miga for more details regarding how you can help!


 The Building Bridges Project holds the same values and standards of excellence as the Monroe County Library System:
*Ethical Practices: We practice integrity, honesty and respect for the rights of others.
We take pride in and accept accountability for our work. 
*Quality Services: We work together to meet customers' needs, exceed expectations, and continuously improve systems and programs.
*Respect For People:

We appreciate and acknowledge the diversity of people.
We treat everyone fairly and respectfully, and recognize and reward achievement, cooperation, and initiative.

*Wholesome Environment:

We provide enjoyable facilities that are safe, accessible, and clean.
We promote an atmosphere conducive to learning.


This publication is supported by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds,  awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Service


For additional information, please contact Rhonda Miga, Consultant for Library Services for Youth with Disabilities, or (585) 428-8147