October 17, 2022
Takes first steps toward creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment at the library for the neurodiverse community
NASHUA, NH – The Nashua Public Library is strengthening its mission to be a welcoming and inclusive community hub by taking steps toward creating sensory-friendly spaces for adults during its events and programs.
“We are always looking at ways to make our library more accessible,” said Jennifer McCormack, Director of the Nashua Public Library. “We recognized that we weren’t serving the neurodiverse community as well as we could be during our adult events. As we learn more about their wide range of needs, we’ve started taking steps to ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from our programs in an environment where they can thrive,” said McCormack.
As part of this project, the library consulted with community organizations that provided feedback on the barriers preventing people on the autism spectrum and those with an intellectual or developmental disability or who are neurodiverse from attending library programs.
In response, the library began offering sensory-friendly rooms in September, starting with a concert with Symphony NH. This week, a sensory-friendly experience will be available during a Stranger Things Trivia Night. A separate room will have soft lighting and less noise, the chairs will be moveable, and the game’s questions will be displayed on a large TV with a countdown timer. The event will also have a free waffle bar, prizes, extra points for costumes, and a Polaroid selfie station.
Future goals of the library to support the neurodiverse community include offering sensory kits for adults to borrow during library visits and a social script with details and illustrations to help adults on the autism spectrum understand what they can expect when visiting the library. The library is also planning several upcoming sensory-friendly film screenings. Similarly, it recently started using its movie theater space to be more inclusive of new parents and caregivers by showing “Stroller Matinees” film screenings. The screenings are a baby-friendly, judgment-free space for adults to enjoy films with babies who may otherwise be unwelcome in traditional movie theaters.
The library is interested in hearing additional feedback from the neurodiverse community on their experiences navigating the library. Anyone willing to provide feedback is encouraged to reach out to Pamela Baker, Programming and Marketing Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.