New Course: Serving Library Users on the Autism Spectrum

Kathleen Gesinger /

Whether you knew it at the time or not, you have likely interacted with or assisted a library user with autism, as it is the fastest growing disability according to Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy organization. A new online course, designed by experts in both the library and autism fields, is a series of four independent, self-paced instructional modules that are intended for librarians and library staff to learn how to better serve their users with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Funded by the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program and led by faculty at two schools within the College of Communication & Information, Project PALS developed four research-based, professional development modules that are freely available. Hosted in the WebJunction Course Catalog, now all libraries have access to this robust and informative course.

The modules are:

  • About Autism in the Library provides information about ASD and why understanding it is important for librarians and library staff.
  • Arranging the Library Environment explores the importance of the library environment and how, by understanding and organizing the environment, you can support patrons with autism.
  • Communicating with Individuals with Autism suggests options to facilitate information exchange, as individuals with ASD often do not have the appropriate tools to communicate.
  • Interacting with Technology explores how libraries can enhance the social and vocational independence of individuals with ASD by harnessing the power of technology.

Research-based checklists, examples of materials, tip sheets, lists, templates, and additional resources are included throughout the course to assist you to implement best practices in your unique library setting. Access this new course today: Serving Library Users on the Autism Spectrum: Project PALS