Submitted by Alec C. McFarlane, President, Library for Deaf Action

The Interest Group meeting took place on Friday, June 28th at the McCormick Place Convention Center. The meeting came to order with an overflow crowd of more than 50 people in a room booked for half that and represented the largest meeting in this Interest Group’s history. We opened with brief introductions from the audience where people introduced themselves and explained briefly why they had come. We had people from the entire spectrum, seemingly representing all four types of libraries, and they all touched upon a rather common theme: services for the deaf community are largely lacking.

The input from the audience took up a good portion of our allotted hour, and allowed the members to see how others were dealing with their libraries or their duties. There was even a trustee and a director in the audience who expressed that wanted to understand the unique way that perhaps they could contribute.  To them, I emphasized Library Friends’ groups and involvement with various Organizations Serving the Deaf (OSD). We also had two deaf librarians, Holly Lipschultz and Evelyn Keolian, who were both from Chicago.  Ms. Lipschultz would later pen a blog post that is now re-posted on ALA Connect.  Her blog post encapsulates what transpired at the meeting and her takeaway. You can also see it for yourself here:

The meeting ran over the subjects of service to special populations and how individual creativity plays a role in transforming libraries.  I also explained how we visualize the Deaf Cultural Digital Library (DCDL) now under consideration in the Maryland Legislature ( Borrowing in part from the concept of the NLS, we envision the DCDL as a state-level public library that serves all four types of libraries. The key element here is to have a dedicated staff empowered to study and collect materials and resources that can be shared with libraries all over the state, and eventually the nation, with regional outlets. This Interest Group looks to push the concept nationally and get partners from within and without ALA who will be part of making the DCDL a reality. The audience generally agreed that this is something we need and they were encouraged to check out the BDC@YL SIG site on ALA Connect ) and follow up on the meeting in Philadelphia and Las Vegas with the objective of duplicating the concept in America.