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Naomi House’s interview with 2012 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, Carrie Banks.
Naomi: How did you come to work for your current position?
Carrie: I waited a years and a half for the position to open up. It was the only one I would have considered leaving NYPL for.
Naomi: Can you speak a little bit about the program you won the Library Journal Movers & Shakers award for?
Carrie: The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs is a unique program that makes library services accessible to all children and teens by focusing on meeting the needs of children with disabilities; we use Multiple Intelligences Theory and Universal Design principles to design library services for children with and without disabilities so no one is singled out, or stigmatized. The Child’s Place is as much an outreach service as anything else. Children and teens with disabilities and their families expect to be excluded and we have to reach out to them to let them know they are welcome in the library. A colleague overheard two tween with autism spectrum disorder talking to each other last one. They ended by saying “yeah, I like coming here.” That’s our perfect outcome.
Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Carrie: It depends on my mood. Right now it is Far from the Tree by Andrew Solamon. Over time though, I think it has to be Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and King Lear.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries?
Carrie: That they are free, everything else I love about libraries flows from that.
Naomi: Favorite adaptation (book to film or even film to book)?
Carrie: Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.
Carrie Banks has been the Director of Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs since 1997. She serves on BPL’s Children’s Steering Committee, and the Universal Access Community of Interest in ALA’s Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies. She has been the ALSC representative to ASCLE, a past chair of the Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers Committee of ALA’s Children’s Services Division and the Schneider Family Book Award committee and served on the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audio Production committee. She has helped draft national guidelines for serving people with disabilities in public libraries. Ms. Banks is also a member of the Advisory Board of the National Gardening Association and the Programming Committee for Music for Autism. Children and Libraries, a journal of ALA, has published articles by Ms. Banks: one on Our Garden Club and another on resources for Spanish-speaking parents of children with disabilities. She also wrote a chapter about The Child’s Place for the book From Outreach to Equity. She has conducted inclusion training for BPL, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the New York Aquarium and America Reads, among others, and is a frequent presenter at ALA’s annual conferences, most recently in 2011. She is currently teaching “Including Children and Youth with Disabilities” at Pratt University in the School of Library and Information Science. Before coming to BPL, Ms. Banks worked at New York Public Library. Her extensive background in children with special needs began in high school and has included working with children with dyslexia, pediatric psychiatric diagnoses, histories of abuse, and craniofacial differences. In 2000 she received New York University’s Samuel and May Rudin Award for Community Service for her work with the disability community. In 2010 she received the Sloan Public Service Award and was named a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2012. Ms. Banks received her Master of Library Science from Queens College in 1990 and her Bachelor of Science in Developmental Psychology from Oberlin College in 1982. She is proficient in French and American Sign Language and is studying Spanish.