Library celebrates 1st birthday, debuts sensory inclusive services

PELHAM – The Pelham Public Library had more than one reason to celebrate on Friday, May 17, as it hosted a party to celebrate the first year at its new location.

Library director Mary Campbell said the library has seen growth in all areas, such as more books being checked out and better attendance at library programs.

“All of our numbers are through the roof since opening the new library,” she said.

“It’s just a joy to see the utilization of the new library by families and individuals,” said Councilman Ron Scott. “This library is a significant addition to the city and I’m proud of Mary and the staff for all they’re doing.”

The party also served as the launch of the library’s sensory inclusive services, which are provided to the public in partnership with a nonprofit called KultureCity.

KultureCity uses its resources to make changes in communities for those with sensory sensitivities. Since its inception, KultureCity has created over 200 sensory inclusive venues in three countries and at special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl and MLB All-Star Weekend.

All of the programs and events the library hosts will now be sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with a sensory issue, Campbell said.

Campbell said she was introduced to KultureCity through a friend, Diane Knight, whose son, Jack, has autism. Knight said her family has benefited from the services offered by KultureCity for five years.

“A lot of what KultureCity does is centered around inclusion, acceptance and inclusiveness – to allow us to go out in to the community and visit places we couldn’t go before,” Knight said. “Through KultureCity, larger venues are becoming sensory friendly and we are able to visit more places now.”

The certification process entailed the staff at the library being trained on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Campbell said five sensory bags and a weighted lap pad will be available to all guests at the library who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. The sensory bags include noise canceling headphones, fidget tools and visual cue cards for nonverbal visitors.

There is a sign at the entrance of the library to let visitors know that it’s a sensory inclusive facility. Inside the library, signs tell visitors where they can get a sensory bag, and areas that tend to be noisier, such as the children’s area and program rooms, have noise cancelling headphones. Upstairs, signs direct visitors to quiet areas.

“I’m so proud of Mary for continuing to think of ways to make the library a space that everyone can use,” said Councilman Maurice Mercer. “This is great for our community. It’s another thing that makes this facility a premier library in the county.”