Special Needs Digital Storytime Conference Proposal

A few weeks ago I received an email from ALSC asking if I was interested in partnering with a Tess Prendergast, a doctoral student from the University of British Columbia‘s Department of Language and Literacy Education, and a children’s librarian and the Vancouver Public Library. Tess’ expertise is in Special Needs Early Childhood Education.  I told her about my Digital Storytelling project at Santa Clara County Library District with Megan Wong. We corresponded a little bit about our areas of interest and decided to create a panel discussion with Carrie Banks from the Brooklyn Public Library.  Carrie is the founder of The Child’s Place at BPL and a 2012 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.  I love this quote about her from the Mover and Shaker article:

Carrie understands that it is not enough simply to open the doors to the branch and hope people drop by. Rather, it is closer to an imperative of the public library to ensure that people receive services no matter where they happen to be.

Tess put together an awesome panel proposal for ALA 2013 in Chicago. The program will be sponsored in name only by the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) and the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)

Digital Early Literacy for Everyone: How Digital Tech Supports Inclusion for All Young Literacy Learners

Far from predicting the dreaded end of print and paper, four presenters will explore different facets of digital early childhood literacy. Digital technology will be placed in a context from which children’s librarians can make good decisions on behalf of the young children and families in their own communities. Participants will learn how digital technology has been enthusiastically embraced by libraries to help meet the literacy development needs of young children, especially those with disabilities.


The general goal of this program is to present current research and practice about digital early literacy in the context of children’s library service to all young children, including those with disabilities who have been underserved in the past.

  • Participants will be presented with an overview of digital early literacy learning research with emphasis placed on the role of digital technology in the literacy development of children with disabilities
  • Participants will hear from three children’s services librarians who will share their experience and insight on how digital tools (e-books, apps etc.) can be integrated into existing programs, services and collections for all children in their communities.
  • Participants will be encouraged to thinking critically and creatively about how digital tools can be used in inclusive children’s library programs, services and collections
  • Participants will be provided with extensive resources from which to adapt and build their own programs, services and collections that meet the needs of the young children in their communities, including those with disabilities.
  • Participants will be encouraged to consider the possibilities inherent in digital literacies that can lead to participation and inclusion of those whose needs have not been met in the past.


Our target audience is children’s services practitioners/children’s librarians in both public and school libraries, children’s services coordinators, branch heads and library managers and directors, and library school students.


Carrie Banks has been the Director of Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs since 1997. Carrie has written about and presented on the topic of services for people with disabilities for many years and most recently began using assistive technology in inclusive family programs at BPL.

Cen Campbell has been designing and implementing storytimes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers since 2007. She serves on the Association of Library Services to Children’s Children and Technology committee and runs LittleeLit.com.

Tess Prendergast is a children’s librarian at the Vancouver Public Library as well as a PhD student at the University of British Columbia where she is investigating early literacy in the lives of children with disabilities. Her research interests include parents’ thoughts about their children’s engagement with early literacy and how communities, especially libraries, can best support these families.

Megan Wong is the Virtual Library Manager for the Santa Clara County Library (SCCL) located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.  Megan manages SCCL’s online presence and resources and is leading the library’s web redesign project. She is specifically interested in eReaders and gadgets and how these things can move libraries forward.


Posted on June 23, 2012, in conferences and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Cen! What a great idea for a program. I wasn’t able to go to ALA13 this year–how did the program go? If your presentation had an handouts or PowerPoint slides, it would be so great if you could share them with me. You can also find my on Twitter at @MissReneeDomain. You and I have very similar interests serving children with special needs. Congrats on all the great work you do–it’s truly inspiring!

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