Volume 25, Number 1, 2003

Library Careers for People with Disabilities

A Message from ASCLA President Ethel Himmel

ASCLA is currently focusing a good deal of energy and discussion on various aspects of the topic of library careers for people with disabilities. At the Midwinter Meeting the Board of Directors voted to deposit the $10,000 donation from Hewlett-Packard in the Century Scholarship Fund, which, along with several generous anonymous donations, brings the total accumulated amount to within a few hundred dollars of the $25,000 required by ALA to set up an endowment. (The Hewlett-Packard donation is one outcome of ASCLA's partnership with H-P on the Library Technology Access project.) Mimi McCain will chair the task force that will create a business plan for the Century Endowment Fund by Annual Conference, 2003. We're close to being official!!

This is not to say that donations are no longer needed for the Century Scholarship, only that we're nearing an important milestone in its development. The Century Scholarship funds services or accommodations for a library school student or students with disabilities who has/have been admitted to an ALA accredited library school.

Libraries Serving Special Populations Section (LSSPS) has had an informal mentoring program in place for some time. One of the initiatives coming out of the ASCLA Strategic Plan has been to extend the mentoring expertise LSSPS members have developed to the wider ASCLA membership. Elizabeth Ridler is chairing the task force to develop a mentoring program that speaks to the needs of new and potential ASCLA members. This is another case in which a program developed to serve people with disabilities, in fact, improves the quality of experiences for all of us who need mentoring at various times in our careers and extends the networking possibilities of all the participants. The Task Force will be presenting a program on how to mentor on June 23rd in Toronto.

I'm especially impressed and moved by several points in David Faucheux's article, but the idea that ASCLA and numerous other organizations should be working together "to develop meaningful and viable internships, field experiences, and/or mentoring situations for all interested library and information science students with disabilities" is truly key. As David says, "These programs will generate a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and, more importantly, lead to more employment for librarians with disabilities that will generate a greater and much-needed diversity in this rapidly changing sector of the information profession!" We all gain.