The library has developed two new collaborative partnerships, both launching this year, which will offer an increased level of service to people with physical and mental disabilities. According to the U.S. Census, about 8 percent of Cobb residents have special needs. While our staff members already provide sign language story times, services to people with vision disabilities, and special story times for children with learning impairments, we are dedicated to developing new and innovative services and programs to further engage special needs patrons.
The first partnership is with Cobb County’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. The library is partnering with the department to develop a library at the new Windy Hill Therapeutic Community Center, which will provide Cobb residents with disabilities a centralized facility for special services. Inside the new facility is a library, which will feature low-literacy reading materials, games, audiobooks, movies and accessible technology. The library and the Parks departments will collaborate on special programs, book clubs, and computer classes to bring literacy and technology to this population. Funding for this new library location, including the technology, collection, and furnishings, was provided in part by the Georgia Public Library Service and the Cobb Library Foundation.
The library is also working with Southern Polytechnic State University to develop computer games for adults with learning disabilities. Students in the university’s award-winning Computer Game Design and Development program, under the leadership of professor Dr. Jon Preston, are developing a library-themed game to help patrons at this location learn about the library and popular reading materials.
The outward focus of these two projects are expected to change the public image of Cobb libraries as traditional services, such as lending books and providing children’s story times, are complimented by creative outreach programs. Cobb librarians often visit the county’s Senior Centers, apartment complexes, childcare centers and other locations to bring library services to underserved people. Quality customer service involves actively engaging as much of Cobb’s population as possible, says Cobb libraries director Helen Poyer.
“Stepping out from our facilities and effectively using communication and technology are critical for our libraries,” she says. “We hope to turn the Therapeutic Center and games development projects into models for Georgia libraries, and in turn, we are inspired by innovative and collaborative efforts of our peers throughout the state and nation.”
To learn more about Cobb County Public Library System, visit our website at www.cobbcat.org.