Pathfinder Emily Terada: Using Sports Fandom to Create Accessibiilty! (INSIDERS Part 3 of 3)

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.  This is part 3 of 3 parts that explore INSIDERS programmers and what they do!

Librarian Emily Terada's hobbies deeply impact her work as an INSIDER programmer at Joyce Ellington Branch.

Here are some of her many interests:

  • Learning new crafts
  • Hiking
  • Picture-taking of nature and food
  • Traveling to new places
  • Cheering on the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants

The last interest in particular, cheering on our local basketball and baseball teams, has had a profound effect on her approach to her library work.

Emily tells me,

"The energy and fun of supporting these teams is something I try to emulate when working with the INSIDERS group."

Being enthusiastic about INSIDERS work is a key ingredient to its success in the Library.  Like Lucy Chiem, Emily's enthusiasm is very important to the customers they serve.

Emily says that bringing "togetherness and joy to a participant's day" means that she has been successful in the INSIDERS mission of creating a library space for teens and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD.)

Creating Accessibility is Important to Emily

One of the most important goals that Emily had as a Master in Library and Information Science candidate was to create accessible library programs.

Accessibility, in this case, means the ability to use Library resources, which are free to everyone.  This is an important aspect of Library service that may sometimes fall through the cracks for people with IDD.

Emily succinctly tells me how the INSIDERS program make the Library's resources so accessible for those with IDD:

"The program has enriched the lives of the community through welcoming a diverse group to take part in library programs and find activities that make them happy. When INSIDERS are working on an activity, they are able to be themselves without the risk of being judged by others. It gives them a little break from the outside world where their differences might be criticized instead of being celebrated."

Emily's involvement with INSIDERS was a lucky happenstance!  She tells me,

"What led to my involvement with being in the program was through a colleague who asked me to be a substitute for one of the program days. I had a lot of fun working with the group and decided I wanted to continue working with the INSIDERS."

Because of that initial lucky break, Emily was reminded of how important accessibility can be to marginalized groups:

"It has made me more aware of the ways that program accessibility can create a more enjoyable library experience for everyone. It’s exciting to apply it to a dynamic and exciting group."

One of the most important characteristics to have when working as a librarian is flexibility.  Whether it is during a storytime, when a child has taken to asking a lot of questions or it is during an adult bookclub, when a participant might have gone off-topic, librarians must gently redirect, but in a kind way.

One of Emily's greatest traits is the ability to be flexible!

Being Flexible About the INSIDERS Program Creates Success!

Some library programs are more popular than others.

Emily is a successful INSIDERS librarian because:

  1. She has developed a rapport with her participants so that they feel comfortable in communicating their likes and dislikes
  2. Her hobbies have helped her to develop perspective-taking, enabling her to see from the participants' viewpoints
  3. She is comfortable and flexible enough to adjust activities based upon their input

Emily tells me,

"(My) hobbies expose me to different perspectives that I can take into my work and find better ways to meet participant needs. If one program idea was not as popular amongst the group, what other ideas could I try out instead? Being flexible and changing the game plan for an INSIDERS meeting has been helpful in creating a program that is meeting their needs. When I adjust the program to better suit participant needs, I am also reminded of how that can improve the program’s accessibility for everyone."

Emily's openness to new ideas and opinions has created an open channel of communication.  In future meetings, she tries to find ways to incorporate their suggestions into programs about arts or science or related topics.

"If certain activities were very popular with participants, I try to include those activities more frequently. I enjoy talking to participants about their hobbies and finding common interests whether it be cheering on the Warriors basketball team or finding new music to listen to. I want participants to feel like the library is a space for them to have fun and to be their true self. Its purpose is to create a welcoming learning space for INSIDERS to explore different activities while also building community. Although participants come from all different backgrounds, they are able to both laugh and learn from one another."

Emily's group is fun and friendly and they would welcome new participants!

Emily's Program

Here are some of the past activities her participants have enjoyed:

  • Craft activities
  • Learning about different holidays and cultures
  • Guest speakers who talk to participants about pedestrian safety or healthy eating habits

Emily, as mentioned earlier, is open to suggestions.  She says,

"Feel free to talk with me or attend the next INSIDERS meeting to see if the program is a good fit for you!"

Here is a comment from a past participant,

“My favorite part about INSIDERS is doing different crafts and sharing laughs with others.”

Interested?  Here is the information for how to attend:

  • Where: Joyce Ellington Branch, 491 East Empire Street, San Jose, CA 95112, 1-408-808-3043
  • When: Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 AM