$20K grant to boost Montague Public Libraries access for patrons with disabilities

Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley, pictured in Carnegie Public Library in Turners Falls.

Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley, pictured in Carnegie Public Library in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley, pictured in Carnegie Public Library in Turners Falls.

Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley, pictured in Carnegie Public Library in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Carnegie Public Library on Avenue A in Turners Falls.

Carnegie Public Library on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Report

Published: 03-29-2024 1:51 PM

MONTAGUE — The Montague Public Libraries have been selected as one of 310 libraries to participate in round two of Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative.

This initiative provides community engagement and accessibility resources to small and rural libraries to help them better serve people with disabilities. The award comes with a $20,000 grant that will help the library better serve those in the community with vision impairments or hearing loss.

“This grant will allow our library to get to know our residents with disabilities better,” said Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley. “It will help us improve our services and empower those facing challenges to provide input on the collections and resources designed for them.”

Kelley said the grant was sought following a review of data regarding local seniors gathered by Montague Mass in Motion, which was focused on their challenges and how the community could help.

“We learned there isn’t easily accessible information about what is going on in town,” Kelley said.

Kelley added that the website can sometimes be a challenge to navigate, and so part of the funding will be used to develop a new site that is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant and easily printable. Kelley added that the site will use bright colors and not have any text on the photos. She hopes the new site will be up and running by next winter. Some funding will also be used to purchase assistive technology to help those with disabilities navigate the library more easily.

“Our hope is we will provide the community better information on available services,” Kelley said, and make patrons “better able to engage in public discourse on community events.”

Library staff will organize community forums, surveys and one-on-one conversations with members of their target audience. Feedback will be collected to identify residents’ assistive technology needs and grant funds will be used to purchase both circulating and non-circulating collections of assistive devices.

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The libraries will also develop an accessibility plan, policies and staff training to support equitable library programming, services and spaces.

Those interested in getting involved should contact Kelley at librarydirector@montague-ma.gov or call Carnegie Public Library at 413-863-3214, ext. 6.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has reimagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have used free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community forums, take part in anti-violence activities, provide a space for residents to discuss challenging topics, and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.