Language Matters

Last year, we wrote about the Portage District Library not being a “shushy place” anymore. They want to create a place where everyone is welcome and respected for who they are. Recently, they have been working on another way to include not only people with disabilities but also all people who struggle with reading. They have had a collection of what are technically called “Hi Interest/Low Reading Ability” books in the children’s area of the library. However, many adults want to use these “Hi/Low” materials. So the library staff realized they should create a Hi/Low collection in the adult area of the library so that adults do not have to go to the children’s area if they struggle with reading.

In order to create the collection, the Portage Library staff received some grant funding. But the looming question was what to call the collection. They did not want people who were using the Hi/Low material to be labeled “poor readers” just because they were in that section. Sometimes adults who read these materials do so because they are really interested in a topic and want a simpler book to read about it. They realized that LANGUAGE MATTERS in order to uphold people’s dignity.

So the Library staff sought out community input to name the section. They contacted The Arcadia Institute who brought the question to the Network. Some input was received from the members of the Regional Interagency Consumer Council (RICC). In the end, the collection is called the Ready Reads Collection because all people can broaden their universe through reading and this collection is for all people.

Congratulations to the Portage District Library for realizing that language in public places matters. Language can point out disabilities or it can create an atmosphere of respect and belonging for all people in our community.