Syracuse University School of Information Studies Meredith Professor Ruth Small received a $482,130 grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services for a joint venture with the Syracuse University’s Center for Digital Literacy (CDL) and the SU Burton Blatt Institute (BBI).

Small will be working over three years to develop a high-quality, comprehensive continuing education program entitled “Building Capacity for Meeting the Library and Information needs of PreK-12 Students with Disabilities.” The program is intended to help teacher-librarians better serve pre-K-12 students with disabilities.

Joined by iSchool Professor Renee Franklin, William Myhill of BBI and iSchool graduate student Kristin Link, Small will build upon her previous research, which indicated that librarians felt their skill sets were weakest when it came to meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

“This project is near and dear to my heart,” Small said. ”We waded patiently through New York State schools in our previous study on the impact of school libraries on student achievement and motivation. Through that study, we found strong evidence that provided the basis for this grant proposal.”

Forty-five teams of New York State school librarians, general educators and special educators will attend an intensive workshop, co-taught by Professors Franklin and Myhill, on accessibility, instructional design, program development, and technology selection. Afterward, participants will implement action plans, share success stories and exchange ideas on a wiki monitored by Professor Franklin and a BBI representative.

The participants will also deliver two workshops in their home districts to pass on the education they receive at the iSchool. Ten self-paced learning modules, created based on the workshop instruction, will be freely accessible on the Internet to anyone wishing to learn how provide effective library and information services to students with disabilities.

“We need to be able to understand these disabilities to help serve these children better,” Small said.

The Burton Blatt Institute, located at Syracuse University, was formed to advance civic, economic, and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society by creating a collaborative environment to foster public-private dialogue and to transform policy, systems, and people through inclusive education, the workforce, and communities.

Small is a founding director of the CDL, an interdisciplinary, collaborative research and development center partnering the iSchool, School of Education, and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, to understand the impact of information, technology and media literacies on children and adults and the impact of these literacies on people, organizations, and society. As the Laura J. & L. Douglas Meredith Professor and director of the iSchool’s nationally ranked school media program, she has received two national research awards for her scholarly work, the 2001 Carroll Preston Baber Research Award from the American Library Association and the 1997 Highsmith Research Award from the American Association of School Librarians. She holds a doctorate in instructional design, development, and evaluation and has been a member of the iSchool faculty since 1989.