Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Importance of a Name: Updating a Collection's Identity

What's in a name? Well...actually a name tells us quite a bit about the contents of a collection of materials, and sometimes a name needs to reevaluated. The name of the multi-media Youth Special Needs Collection at the Bloomfield Township Public Library was chosen over 10 years ago to be consistent with special education language at that time. When building this collection in 2008, I consulted with special education professionals, families, and students with disabilities. Because there were so many components in the collection, it was not feasible to use an acronym based on content type to identify this collection, as with some other library collections geared to patrons with disabilities.

Disability language has evolved in the past 11 years since the grand opening of this collection in January of 2009, and we are mindful of language that represents the voices of the disability community. The term ‘special needs’ is a euphemism that is considered offensive and ableist to many disability self-advocates, as it implies the needs of a person with a disability are special, even though everyone has needs that may be unique. After careful consideration, research, and discussion with disability self-advocates in the community and beyond over the course of a year, we are excited to announce the change to Accessibility Support Collection (ASC) to reflect the purpose of the collection: to support accessibility in daily living, learning, and recreation. The term ‘accessibility’ has consistently been used to describe the degree to which something is usable, perceivable and understandable by people of all abilities.

A Process in Progress

The task of updating catalog item records and relabeling is almost finished thanks to a wonderfully supportive Technical Services Department. Our Systems staff has also changed the MAT type icon and assisted with the changes on our website. (A reminder of the collaborative effort this collection requires!)

The web page has been updated and we are in the process of updating our signage, brochures, and bibliographies which will be added back to the web page soon!

screenshot of Accessibility Support Collection web page at the Bloomfield Township Public Library

Shelving range endcap sign for Accessibility Support CollectionShelving range endcap sign for Accessibility Support Collection

Check out these resources for more information on disability language:

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