xvi Acknowledgments of continuing to work in libraries and contributing to research and scholarship. To this day, nothing makes me happier than seeing the eyes of a precious child light up upon entering the library. For chil- dren and adults alike, the library can be a magical place. It can be a place of empowerment. People often come to the library with questions. Whether their ques- tions relate to scholarly research or to life itself, librarians have the power to help them find answers. Both as a library and information science professional and as a recipient of the power of the library and librarians to educate and help patrons, I know the profound dif- ference librarians and libraries can make. With this knowledge, how- ever, also comes a profound sadness. Libraries have an unmatched power to make a difference in the lives of each and every patron coming in their doors. With technological advances and storehouses of knowledge, libraries and their librarians have the power to help patrons belonging to all demographics achieve their goals. Yet, as proven by research, despite such power and ability, in staggering numbers, our libraries are not always reaching their potential to be accessible to all members of the populace. Each and every person on Earth has a mission in life—a purpose. Cultural, ethnic, linguistic, learning, physical, and other differences leave us all with unique challenges and barriers to overcome. Rather than leaving us with “disabilities,” however, these differences leave us “differently able” to achieve. Our differences often result in new abilities—abilities that would not exist without our differences. By remaining inaccessible to various “differently able” groups, libraries and we, as library and information science professionals, are denying these people the opportunity to achieve their purposes and to accomplish their goals. In as much, we are failing society. Following a premature birth, I have needed to rely on a walker to aid me with ambulation. With the selfless, determined work of a few incredible librarians, my own experiences with libraries have largely determined my life’s work and purpose. When I was young, “reaching for the stars” meant someday becoming a librarian. Now, “reaching for the stars” means making a difference for other people. More than anything, I want to do all that I can to be a part of making libraries as accessible as possible to all people. This work was born out of a heartfelt desire to bring the lived experiences of our library patrons to the forefront and to help the voices of those who society
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