By Kevin Cherry
IMLS Senior Program Officer
At ALA Midwinter in Dallas, IMLS Director Susan Hildreth got the opportunity to meet with University of Alabama and Wayne State University scholarship recipients from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program-funded Project ALFA, “Accessible Libraries for All.”
This project seeks to recruit and educate 30 students over three years to better provide universal information access to those library users who do not meet the legal definition of disabled, but who still might need special services. As the population of the United States ages, the number of “extra-legally ably challenged” individuals will grow, and Project ALFA students will be there to help them. Internships, fieldwork, and service learning projects allow ALFA Fellows to make a transition from classroom knowledge to applied experience, putting learning into action. An emphasis on technologies for information access, including hardware, software, and Web 2.0 tools is an integral part of the ALFA experience. The Alabama Public Library Service and the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services serve as project partners.