LSN: A Historical Overview

by Nancy Mary Panella

1932-2009

In late 2008, IFLA approved a proposal by the Libraries Serving Disadvantage Persons Section (LSDP) to rename it Library Services to People with Special Needs (LSN). As was the case with previous name changes, this one was felt necessary, not only because it better reflected the section‟s current work, but also because the terminology surrounding its areas of concern had again significantly changed.

Its new name notwithstanding, the section remains one of IFLA‟s oldest, dating to 1931. In that year, it was created as the Sub-committee on Hospital Libraries (patients‟ libraries), and its mission was to promote professional library services to hospitalized people - a group who, because they were confined, could not make use of regular library resources. Bibliotherapy, or the use of books and reading as aids to healing, was a second focus. But, the sub-committee soon saw that, due to a range of disabilities that often were secondary to the cause of hospitalization, some patients required special materials - sensory and mobility aids, for example - as well as special services. That need also became evident among community members confined for any number of reasons. Concerned with those needs and, by virtue of a diverse membership, well-positioned to address them, the sub-committee overtime expanded its focus to include people who for whatever reason were unable to use conventional libraries, materials and services.

Throughout its long and productive history, the section has remained remarkably true to its mission, thus it continues today to advocate for those in the community who cannot make use of conventional library resources. Those groups include: people who are hospitalized or imprisoned; elderly and disabled people in care facilities; the housebound; the deaf; and the physically, cognitively or developmentally disabled.

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Publications, Library Services to People with Special Needs

Last update: 20 March 2014