A planning guide for serving patrons with disabilities

For Immediate Release
Thu, 11/03/2016


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing

American Library Association



CHICAGO — Librarians are continually faced with challenges of how to best meet the needs of patrons with disabilities, whether those patrons have physical or intellectual disabilities, differing learning styles, or even temporary problems which impact their access and may change over time. And because planning considerations range from policies and organizational culture to facilities, technologies, and beyond, librarians need a guide that covers everything: areas that can be addressed quickly and easily as well as those that require long-term strategies. That guide is here. “Creating Inclusive Library Environments: A Planning Guide for Serving Patrons with Disabilities,” published by ALA Editions, is packed with research-based best practices and handy checklists applicable to all types of libraries. Written by Michelle Kowalsky and John Woodruff, this comprehensive resource:

  • defines what makes environments barrier-free, whether physical or virtual, and talks about how libraries can develop a user-centered culture;
  • includes techniques for writing policies and procedures that are clear, realistic, and flexible;
  • provides strategies for setting up facilities, training staff, and maintaining daily operations;
  • discusses collaboration and outreach through community partnerships, including ways to connect patrons with nonprofits and disability organizations;
  • offers programming and workshop ideas such as open houses, tutorials, and tours of the library;
  • delves into assistive technology, website design, making vendor-purchased products accessible, and other information technology issues; and
  • shares ideas for library assessment, realigning strategies, and staying current.

Kowalsky is a librarian and professor at Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey. Her most recent activities have included an upgrade of Campbell Library’s Digital Learning Center with software and furniture recommended by students with disabilities; development of information literacy instruction and reference services in a variety of subject areas; and supervision of dissertation research for doctoral students in the College of Education. Prior to working in academia, she worked as a public librarian, a corporate librarian, and a K−12 school librarian and teacher for over 20 years. Woodruff is Director of the Academic Success Center and Disability Resources at Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey. His most recent activities include outreach to faculty and students to increase empathy for the varying needs of students; development of year-round speaker programs, activities, and events to promote understanding on campus and in the local community; and leadership of faculty-led and community-led strategic partnerships for awareness, training, and mentoring.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide. ALA Editions publishes resources used worldwide by tens of thousands of library and information professionals to improve programs, build on best practices, develop leadership, and for personal professional development. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a growing range of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions at (800) 545-2433 ext. 5052 or editionsmarketing@ala.org.