Brief: Library staff move forward in accessibility plan with focus group

By Heather Fabritze

News Co-Editor

Continuing discussions held last semester surrounding accessibility in the Clifton M. Miller Memorial Library, the building staff hosted a focus group on Wednesday, Nov. 15 for an hour-long conversation on future initiatives.

The library applied for a monetary grant through the American Library Association in the winter of last year to increase accessibility of facilities, programs, and services. According to Public Services Librarian Andrea Boothby Rice, receiving a grant from ALA required them to hold a formal discussion with the intended audience of their grant.

This group meeting ensured that the library was “aligning [their] project with the needs of the community” by polling actual users of the space.

The staff had informal conversations with students before submitting the grant, allowing them to develop a more thorough idea of what their goals would look like in the long-run. After receiving the funds, they would be able to revisit those ideas in order to adjust their plans to their updated budget.

One such initiative that they have been floating since February this year was the creation of sensory carts to adjust student experiences around spaces in the library.

While a full sensory room was ideal, the execution was not possible with the funds that they received from the ALA. According to Boothby Rice, they are still currently exploring other “options that could make [the sensory room] happen.”

Another potential plan to come out of the focus group was the development of a mentoring program that would pair librarians with students who have library anxiety.

Boothby Rice feels hopeful about the library’s future accessibility initiatives after the formal conversation.

“After our focus group, we believe our project addresses many of the needs expressed by the students in attendance,” Boothby Rice said.

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