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Please note: The Roads to Learning initiative has ended. Please forward any concerns to olos@ala.org.

Roads to Learning History

In 1995, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation commissioned a survey by Roper-Starch to ascertain American public knowledge and attitudes concerning learning disabilities. When people were asked where they would go for information on learning disabilities, three sources were mentioned. The first was family. The second source of information was the family physician. And 51% of those responding said they would go to a public library.

The Tremaine Foundation approached the American Library Association about doing a project to ensure that libraries were informed and able to meet this need, especially in light of recent research. A proposal was written. In 1996, Roads To Learning, The Public Libraries’ Learning Disabilities Initiative, came into being, with a goal to bring information about LD to the general public through libraries while increasing public libraries’ capacity to serve in this area of need.

Roads To Learning (RTL) encouraged linkages among libraries, community organizations, and service providers to improve service to learning disabled people, their families, professionals, and other interested people. To do this, RTL helped libraries at the building level. In early February 1997, the "LD Resources for Libraries" packet was sent to every public library director in the country. It included print and Internet resource lists, items to distribute to the community, and practical approaches to collections and services.

Local partnerships were introduced in the summer of 1998. Library staff and volunteers with an interest in LD work together to ensure that the library is meeting the information needs of the community on this topic. To date, groups have identified collection needs, conducted public programs on LD and related topics, bought videos, and even raised funds.

The Roads To Learning Web page was mounted in 1998. Elements included links to other Web sites, a descriptive list of national learning disabilities organizations, and basic information about LD.

LD information is disseminated in other ways. "Top 20 LD Resources for Libraries" was an insert in the May 1999 American Libraries magazine, reaching 65,000 subscribers, along with a short article and an ad. Articles appeared in the June 1999 School Library Journal, and in the May/June 1999 Knowledge Quest, the Journal of the American Association of School Librarians.

National, regional and state conference programs and workshops were an integral part of Roads To Learning. Library staff work with practical resources to build awareness and skills. People return to their libraries ready to enhance current services, and able to share useful information with their colleagues.

The idea was to reach an ever-growing number of people and help improve library and information access for all. Otherwise the human and financial costs affect each one of us, even if we can't see them.


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