For October, the focus on my presidential theme Striving for Equity Using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies is on access, and in particular for those with disabilities. As Teen Services Competency Content Area 3, Learning Environments (formal and informal) states, we should “Acknowledge challenges to teen equity and inclusion that occur in the design and management of the overall library program”; “Remove barriers of access to library learning environments” and “Provide space (physical and virtual, in the library and in the community) that is engaging for all teens…”. In order to do this, all areas of the physical building and any locations where library-sponsored activities and programs take place must be fully accessible to all members of the community, including those with physical disabilities. How can we strive for equity if we leave any members of our service area from full participation?
In the realm of visible physical disabilities, the just-opened Hunter’s Point branch of the Queens (NY) Library has been recently in the news. Again. And again. Architecturally lauded by the New York Times, New York, and others, a glaring flaw was quickly found in the design of the building. Three large sections of the Fiction collection are inaccessible to library users who cannot ascend a steep staircase. The one elevator in the building does not stop to access this area. Queens Library has since acknowledged the problem, and are working to move that collection to become available to all users of the branch. However, the fact that a $41 million building that was years in the making overlooked such a basic access issue is troubling.
Are there areas of the libraries that you work at which are inaccessible? Do you consider all of your teens when planning programming? Consider both your building and any off-site locations.
Remember, too, that there are free webinars for this and all of the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.
Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl
Photo credit: Jake Dobkin, Gothamist