Originally established in 2008, the purpose of Service Dog Awareness Month is to bring awareness to dogs that provide assistance to individuals living with disabilities.
For libraries, questions about service dogs are common. Luckily, there is a wide variety of information about service dogs that library professionals can access to learn about these important members of the community. The Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA), a division of ALA, has a handy toolkit designed to help you create a more welcoming and accessible library environment for visitors with service dogs.
In general, any breed of dog can be a service animal. Service dogs are rigorously trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. This assistance can range from helping those with visual impairments to less noticeable services such as providing tactile stimulation for someone experiencing PTSD. Service dogs are important and necessary companions for many people with a wide range of disabilities. By staying informed of their services, library staff members can better support patrons who have dogs with them. For the month of September, consider learning more about service dogs, working with local service dog schools or advocacy groups, or creating displays or programs to highlight all that these dogs can do.
For more information, please visit the websites of the advocacy and educational organizations provided at the end of the toolkit. We also encourage you to visit the ASGCLA website at www.asgcladirect.org.