We know public libraries have books and magazines, but they are often a major focal point in a community as well. But not everyone can take advantage of the many and varied library resources, and it’s not just about being able to read. Getting to and around a library and being made welcome will encourage more people to take advantage of their local library. So what actions can library staff take to make inclusive and accessible libraries?
Malmo City libraries in Sweden developed a guide to accessibility for their staff. It’s titled, A Library Without Obstacles: A Guide to Accessibility. The guide is easy to read and follow and is useful for any information service, not just libraries. It’s translated to English and consequently, some terms are specifically Swedish.
Libraries in Sweden must be accessible to all and provide an equal opportunity to enjoy literature and knowledge. Their basic premise is whatever is necessary for some is good for everyone. This premise holds for all information services. Image is the front cover of the guide.
What do libraries offer besides books?
Libraries across the globe arrange events throughout the year including school holidays. Many offer community information services, and librarians have skills in finding information when looking for something in particular. Events must be as accessible as possible and visitors like to know the level of access they can expect. The guide lists some minimum requirements. The way information is presented is also important.
“We write so everyone can understand. Plain language means using words that are easy to understand in a clear and simple structure. Use everyday language, write short sentences, and begin with the most important information.” Image is from the guide.
Reading without obstacles
Most libraries offer adapted media such as talking books, large print and easy to read books. Getting to the library and finding your way around is key for people with physical disabilities. The aim of an inclusive and accessible library is that everyone should be able to reach their next book.
While this guide is for public library staff, the content is applicable to other institutions and services that provide public information. An excellent resource with many of the actions easy to achieve.