As a part of my assignment, I interview a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). According to the article “Learn by Asking,” Aaron Schmidt (2010) one of the best ways to learn about user experiences at a library is interviewing users. I interviewed parents of children with ASD about their information needs and their experiences using libraries.
I interviewed a father of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder in order to gain information and insight into this community and its members. I asked him about where he seeks out information related to his needs as a parent of a child with ASD. Through my conversation with him I learned that he gains information from various sources. Mainly from medical or mental health professionals. He stated that he also seeks out information from libraries especially books written by parents of individuals with ASD. That he seeks out sites such as Autism Society of America (ASA) and Autism Speaks. I discussed with him if individuals in his community create their own information sources and services. He stated that Autism Speaks was created by grandparents of a child with ASD, that many blogs exist from parents of children with Autism, and books are written by parents giving advice to other parents. His child receives special education services and often needs help finding information on educational services and methods to help his child. He said he seeks out libraries for these types of informational needs related to special education and books written by fellow parents in his community. He says that it has been a positive experience. There are organizations that have resources like Autism Speaks that he seeks out to try to find assistance. He says his needs are so varied that he often needs information from lots of sources including advice from other parents of individuals with ASD.
I also spoke with a mother of an individual with ASD said that she does not use libraries to find information about Autism. That she sticks solely to getting her information from her child’s speech therapists, occupational therapists, and doctors. She does listen to advice from other parents and she does use Facebook to share information with other parents of children with ASD. She did not believe that libraries had enough training or current information to help her find up to date information on her child. She agreed many parents write blogs about having children with ASD and many websites exists that are created by parents of children with ASD. She says that parents of children with ASD have many topics they need to stay informed of from healthcare changes, politics, laws, education, medicine, and psychology. These topics can impact her child’s life and access to services so she must stay on top of this information to assist her child. She does this typical on websites and news venues. She also mentioned her desire for sensory friendly areas in libraries for her child so she could seek information while knowing her child was in a sensory friendly environment. She says too many libraries and library staff are poorly equipped to deal with a child with ASD.
This parent’s perceptions of libraries collections not being up to date and not having enough current information to meet her needs is the perceptions that can harm library services to underrepresented populations. It is important to discuss with underserve populations to understand how libraries can better meet their needs. As Aaron Schmidt (2010) states small adjustments to your services can assist libraries to better meet their patron’s needs. Library and information professionals need to be able to recognize the needs of diverse groups to help serve their communities better. As states by Overall (2009), information professionals need to establish relationships with underserve and minority population as well as understand environmental factors that impact usage but to understand their own culture and values before working with diverse groups. As Information professionals we need to be able interact with a myriad of communities and populations intelligibly this requires understanding these communities and their motives while keeping in line with the values of that American Library Association has established for libraries in their bill of rights and the Code of Ethics .
Overall, P. (2009). Cultural competence: A conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. Library Quarterly, 79(2), 175-204. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=f4ce64e5-3a5a-456e-ba8c-2d6fd2ab4600%40sessionmgr4009
Schmidt, A. (2010, March 1). Learn by asking [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2010/03/opinion/aaron-schmidt/learn-by-asking-the-user-experience/
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