By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

The first of two summer Project ENABLE sessions was held at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) recently, with librarians and educators from 11 states visiting the school for a program funded by a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The iSchool’s Center for Digital Literacy and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University are conducting the program collaboratively. The name “Project ENABLE” stands for “Expanding Non-Discriminatory Access by Librarians Everywhere.”

The week-long workshop involved 30 three-person teams comprised of general educators, special educators, and school librarians. They studied types of disabilities, disability law, assistive technology, the Individualized Education Program process, accessibility, and Universal Design for Learning, said iSchool faculty member Dr. Ruth Small, who is the project’s principal investigator.

Participants in the first session came from North Carolina, Maryland, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and New Jersey for the week-long session. A second workshop, planned August 5-9, will involve librarians and educators from California, Alabama, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina, according to Dr. Small.

One participant, Dr. Nancy Everhart, associate professor and director of the school library program at Florida State University, came away with highly positive reactions about the format of the workshop and the content that was presented. “I was really impressed with how well organized the workshop was and how in-depth it was as far as covering a lot of topics, from the legal to the emotional aspects.” She said the week-long program presented “a great mix of activities, individuals, small groups, lectures, and outside speakers.”

In making the grant, the IMLS recognized Project ENABLE as “a high-quality, comprehensive continuing education program for school librarians to help them better serve the library and information needs of preschool students with disabilities. Dr. Small said that the $237,973 grant permitted the expansion of the program beyond its initial roots in New York State to include professionals from throughout the United States. 

She noted that the funds also are permitting further development of the Project ENABLE web site, so that it can be used for training purposes and that its content can be incorporated into future training programs. The enhancements will make the project’s free training much more widely accessible, she added, and in the coming year, the availability of the training information will be publicized to librarians nationwide.

Co-principal investigators in the project are Renee Franklin Hill, Ph.D., professor in the School of Information Studies, and William Myhill, M.Ed., J.D., director of legal research and writing at the Burton Blatt Institute and an adjunct professor of law at Syracuse University.