Some Lancashire libraries will be marking Autism Awareness Week from Monday 1 April to Sunday 7 April by introducing a more autism-friendly environment.
Libraries in Bacup, St. Anne’s, Nelson, Heysham, Morecambe and Clitheroe will be offering one quiet hour each week on an ongoing basis to provide a more suitable space for some people with autism.
During this hour the noise in the libraries will be reduced. This will include the muting of barcode scanners, no events or activities taking place, and the lighting being dimmed. Library staff will also encourage a calm atmosphere.
Over one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum. Autism is a lifelong disability, which affects how a person communicates and relates to others, as well as how they see the world. It is a spectrum condition and affects everyone differently, which means that each person on the spectrum will have very different support needs.
The quiet hour could also benefit other people living with conditions including dementia and anxiety.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We’re introducing a quiet hour to create an environment where people with autism may feel more comfortable visiting a library.
“I’m pleased that we are taking this opportunity to open the library up as a space that is suitable for more people. We want to break down barriers and make sure that we are socially inclusive. Hopefully more of our libraries will offer a quiet hour as well soon.
“A campaign run by the National Autistic Society has found that a lack of public understanding was leaving autistic people and their families socially isolated. We want to play our part in improving this situation.”
Anyone who lives or works in Lancashire can join a Lancashire library, either online or by visiting in person. Membership is free and there are no age restrictions.
You can call in at your local library to find out about when the quiet hour is available.
For more information go to www.lancashire.gov.uk/libraries or call 0300 123 6703.