By James Lonergan
Senior Program Officer, IMLS
This past May, I hosted grantees from three U.S. Pacific Territories: American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and three U.S.-affiliated Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in Honolulu, Hawaii at the 2014 IMLS Library Services Grants to the Pacific Region Training Workshop. These meetings, held every other year for the Pacific island grantees, provide them an opportunity to discuss their projects with IMLS staff and with each other, share best practices, and obtain professional development training. This year, the meeting included a component on making library services accessible.
Participants presented on the programs and services they are supporting with IMLS funds. Highlights of the presentations included:
- the Polynesian Photo Archives at the Feleti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa;
- services for people with disabilities at the Guam Public Library System;
- bookmobile services at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library in CNMI;
- the library summer reading camp hosted by the Palau Public Library;
- the automating school libraries project in FSM; and
- computer training for senior citizens at Alele Museum and Public Library in RMI
Jane Barnwell from Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) and Dr. Yvonne Chandler from the University of North Texas presented on the Library Education for the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific (LEAP) project, an IMLS-funded joint initiative between PREL and UNT which supported 21 students from the Pacific region in obtaining their MLS degrees. This included Justin Maga, who attended our training, representing the Feleti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa.
A special focus of the workshop was services to people with disabilities. Our grantees participated in an interactive online tutorial from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies called “Positive Interactions: Making the Library a Welcoming and Empowering Place for People with Disabilities,” presented by Brenda Hough. Several grantees noted that the tutorial gave them useful ideas for improving the accessibility of their libraries and the programs and services that they offer.
We also visited the Hawaii Library for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (LBPH), where we toured the Library and were given an assistive technology demonstration. The Guam Public Library System serves as a sub-regional LBPH.
Our participants rated the workshop highly on their evaluation forms, and they told us the various presentations and meetings gave them good ideas that they could use back home in their libraries, archives and museums.