Children’s Librarians in the Lives of Children with Disabilities: A Bio-ecological Perspective

A few months ago, I presented a poster at ALISE 2016, in Boston, MA.

Here is a summary of my poster’s content, with a link to the PDF version.

Children’s Librarians in the Lives of Children with Disabilities: A Bioecological Perspective
This poster explores the intersections of children’s librarianship and early literacy in the lives of children with disabilities. In what is referred to as his bioecological systems theory, Bronfenbrenner (1986, 2005) conceptualized a child’s development as taking place within nested systems of support. Each setting (i.e. home, preschool, library) is considered a microsystem within which the individual child interacts with objects, symbols and people in ways that advance or hinder that child’s development. Interactions between those people who surround the child constitute the mesosystem influence. To elaborate, the mesosystem may be constituted when an outside influence (such as a teacher or therapist) is exerted on a child within a specific microsystem. An example of this would be a father bringing his toddler to a storytime program and learning how to play a rhyming game with his child from a children’s librarian. The influence that the children’s librarian has had on the father (i.e. teaching him a new way to play and interact with his child in their home microsystem) constitutes the mesosystem.


This poster mainly explores actual examples of the children’s librarian’s mesosystem role and draws on evidence from a series of semi-structured interviews with groups of children’s librarians as well as parents of young children with disabilities. This study’s findings suggest that children’s librarians who are willing and (somewhat) able to offer responsive, inclusive services and parents who want and need such services rarely encounter each other but when they do the benefits of such interactions are obvious especially when viewed through Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems framework. This study suggests that librarians and their expertise in encouraging early literacy development via mesosystem interactions are under-utilized resources in the lives of families whose children have disabilities. Working with families around making accommodations to meet children’s learning needs represents a significant way that children’s librarians become part of children’s mesosystems of support and in this way provide equitable early literacy resources across diverse communities of children.


By considering Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems framework wherein children are afforded frequent and successful interactions with ‘objects, symbols and people’ in public library contexts, this study suggests that more frequent interactions around the early literacy resources of the public library could represent a positive force for individual children’s early literacy development, in much the same way as regular home reading supports early literacy growth. By the same token, fewer, or less successful interactions in the library context could inhibit literacy growth because of lost opportunities to engage with the resources that are freely available at the public library. This study concludes with a rationale for continuing to strengthen the role that children’s librarians play in the lives of all children, particularly those who may remain underserved.

Children’s Librarians in the Lives of Children with Disabilities: A Bioecological Perspective


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 723-742.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human: bioecological perspectives on human development. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Photo credit: AdinaVoicu


From Theory to Findings

I have been working on my dissertation theory section and decided to create a Prezi to help me trace my study’s theoretical underpinnings.

Here it is!

From Theory to Findings

Librarian as Early Literacy Coach

I recently presented at the British Columbia Library Conference about the work my library does to meet the needs of adults raising and caring for young children.

We are very proud of our work in this regard and I emphasized the role that librarians can and should play in their communities as early literacy experts and advocates.

You will find our conference handouts here.

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ASL English Bilingual Family Storytime Resources – click here!

This link will take you to another blog that is a compilation of resources that some colleagues and I put together to promote this great program model at a conference we presented at in May. Enjoy!We are all very proud of this collaborative program model!

The Full Little eLit Book is Here: Young Children, New Media, and Libraries

The Little-eLit book is here! I am so very proud to have been part of this great new resource for children’s library practitioners! Check it out for free at the little-elit blog,

Little eLit

Today is the day: the full Little eLit book is now available! If you’ve been reading the main chapters of the book as they’ve been released serially over the past 9 months, you’ll still want to check out the final product; the full book, linked here, includes appendices that add more context and expand on the chapters on evaluation and digital media in storytimes, among other things.

Click the image above to view the full pdf of the book. Click the image above to view the full pdf of the book.

We the co-authors of Young Children, New Media, and Libraries: A Guide for Incorporating New Media into Library Collections, Services, and Programs for Families and Children Ages 0-5 hope that this book will provide a solid foundation for your own forays into the topic of early literacy in the digital age, whether you’re just taking your first exploratory steps or looking to expand upon past practice.

And if you have any…

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Project ENABLE – A terrific resource for everyone! Please check it out!

From their website found at

Project ENABLE provides free, foundational training, designed specifically for public, academic or school librarians worldwide, to help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to create inclusive and accessible libraries that meet the needs of all students. Teachers, administrators, and parents are also welcome to use the site to learn, review or update their learning in this area.

 This unique training site allows librarians to designate their library type and location (state) on their registration form and receive content that is tailored just for them. In addition, training can be customized for individual or group use. The site is free and open to all who can benefit from this training.

 Project ENABLE is a partnership of the Center for Digital Literacy (CDL), the School of Information Studies (iSchool@Syracuse) and the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University. Funding support for Project ENABLE was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Wow! I am in the process of transcribing interviews with children’s librarians for my dissertation project about early literacy in the lives of children with disabilities and I can attest to the timeliness and necessity of this resource in our profession. We MUST be better prepared to ensure both accessibility and inclusiveness of the lifelong learning opportunities that all libraries are meant to provide, to everyone. 

No longer can librarians lament “I can’t afford to get trained in this area” or “I don’t have time to learn what I need to learn”. Now there is that free, self-paced training and did I mention that it is free and fully online so go get yourself to Project ENABLE and learn more about it!

A great read about IEPs, special education and inclusion: The Separation Box

Just this…

The Separation Box.