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Take a sneak peek at the new Indianapolis Public Library branch

Take a sneak peek at the new Indianapolis Public Library branch

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The new Fort Ben Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library is the first of its kind in the state because it is specially designed for people who have autism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 36 children in the U.S., or just under 3%, have autism spectrum disorder, along with 2% of adults.

“The library aims to recognize and value all the ways in which people differ, both seen and unseen while fostering an environment, collection, and services where everyone is celebrated,” Shelby Peak, library manager, said.

The staff at the Fort Ben Branch has completed special training in order for the library to become a Certified Autism Center. That means at least 80% of the library’s staff is trained and certified so they can better help adults and children with autism or other sensory sensitivities.

Now, librarians at the Fort Ben Branch can better understand the educational, social, and emotional needs of patrons.

The branch offers a private quiet area for people to decompress. It will also offer sensory-inclusive programs classes and events for all ages.

“We have walks — we have one that goes to Fort Harrison State Park. We have story time for children. We have programs to help people learn financial literacy or help them get a new career,” Keshia McEntire, public relations specialist for the Indianapolis Public Library, said.

The city of Indianapolis approved more than $14 million in bonds to fund the project. The library says 200,000 people are expected to 22,000-square-foot building each year.

Designers used cool green, brown, and blue colors throughout the building to honor nearby Fort Harrison State Park and there’s a history exhibit detailing the history of Fort Benjamin Harrison, which was built by the U.S. Army in 1908, decommissioned in the 1990s, and redeveloped.

“It’s really just a good way to get plugged into your local community even just walking around the branch and looking at the posters and flyers and things of that nature on the wall you can learn so many things about what’s going on in your community,” McEntire said.

A grand opening ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the library, located at 9330 E. 56th St. The event will include free activities, live music, and food.