Pathfinders: INSIDERS Programmers PART 1 of 3

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

INSIDERS is one of the many programs included in the umbrella of Equity and Inclusion at San José Public Library.

Disability Access Commitee's Manager, Rebekah Gonzalez, ran the INSIDERS program for awhile.  She says,

"INSIDERS is the name used for programming geared towards adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the San José Public Library system.

INSIDERS began in May 2016 in several branch libraries. It was the brainchild of Sandra Stewart, an administrator, who was familiar with a similar program in Contra Costa County.

After Sandra left in early 2016, Pam Crider took over the lead in the INSIDERS until she handed it over in July 2016 to two librarians who volunteered to act as leads for INSIDERS programming."

Rebekah and Joan Co-Lead INSIDERS

Joan Weagle and Rebekah co-led the INSIDERS until Joan's retirement in 2022.  Rebekah continued leading the group.  She continues,

"Although a group of librarians would meet somewhat informally to discuss programming ideas in the early years, the INSIDERS Programming Committee was formalized as a group in 2019, and is currently meeting on a quarterly basis.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, in-person INSIDERS programming was put on hold.

During this time, Rebekah and Joan partnered with the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and a group of self-advocates to create a video series on topics highly relevant to the I/DD community.

As the library has been able to restore it's services, the INSIDERS Programming Committee has been working hard to bring back in-person programming and re-establish partnerships with local organizations that serve the I/DD community."

Popular Pre-Pandemic Programs

Rebekah remembers some very popular pre-pandemic INSIDERS programs:

  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safely with Officer Cordell Bailey
  • BINGO!
  • Many art and craft projects such as Henri's Scissors: Creative Art with Paper Cutouts (an EPS program reused), and Pumpkin Sun Catchers (thanks Rosa and EPS!)
  • Dave Rocha Jazz Trio
  • Open Space Authority: Wildflowers and Wildlife
  • Magical Moonshine Theatre
  • Personal Safety with SJPD Crime Prevention Unit
  • Reading Club
  • Voting Workshop
  • Emergency Preparedness

Interested in INSIDERS?  They can be found with our other "Disability Inclusion" Events!