Reason #118 – We’re 100% Accessible

Reason #118 - Accessibility

We are accessible!

Recently, the Province of Ontario passed laws requiring that all companies, organizations and government agencies make their services more accessible. Although the new legislation also applies to libraries, accessibility is nothing new for us! A principle of service for libraries has always been that we serve all ages and levels of abilities. The province has set standards physical buildings, such as requiring wider doorways, ramps instead of stairs, and elevators with raised buttons. There are also guidelines for customer service, such as making sure that our important documents are available in multiple formats.

 

St. Thomas Public Library has many services for accessibility. With assistance from the Lions Club of St. Thomas, we have an accessibility station, including a special computer with touch screen, a text magnifier, and a text-to-voice reader. We have an audiobook collection of over 1,000 items and a Large Print collection of almost 10,000 items for the visually impaired. Recently, we redesigned our website with new accessibility standards in mind. (Go to http://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/ and check out the accessibility options in the top left-hand corner of the page.) And for those who are unable to get to the library, our Home Library Service provides selection and delivery of materials to visually impaired and home-bound persons by staff and volunteers.

When it comes to the library building, we’ve been given the “Thumbs Up” certification by the St. Thomas Thumbs Up Committee for being accessible to the community. Some of our accessibility features include: ramps and hand rails at both the main and lower entrances with automatic doors, accessible/family washrooms on all three levels of the library, aisles that meet the 81 cm accessibility code (for walkers, scooters, strollers, etc.) that are free from clutter, an upgraded elevator to include braille, light-up display, and sound communication, and all of our door handles can be opened easily with one hand (among many other standards.)

 

All our staff and volunteers are trained on the principles of accessibility, and we can help you!

May we present…

After years of planning, studying, interviewing and surveying, the plans for the Revitalized St. Thomas Public Library have been revealed and it is with pleasure that we are making them available for viewing and comments.  They are now on display on the Main Floor of the Library and are also available online.  Why not stop by and have a look? We even have a flyer that we’ve created so that you can take the plans home to study. Staff would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.

In the meantime, I thought I’d take you on a verbal tour of the plans, highlighting areas on each floor as I go. Let’s begin on the bottom level. We announced earlier, this level will be the home of the Palmer Youth Library (formerly the Children’s and Teens’ Services Department). Let me describe some of its features:

  • It will have its own check in and check out desk for children’s and teens’ materials.
  • There will be a programming room called the “Ingram Activity Centre” for children’s and teens’ library programs as well as for other activities such a tutoring and small meetings.
  • A new area called the “Kids’ Spot” has been designated specifically for younger children and their accompanying adults. It will house the picture book and board book collections, the Early Literacy computers as well as a variety of games and activities that foster pre-literacy skills.
  • Children will be provided with spaces tucked within the book stacks for quiet and group study as well as comfortable chairs for reading and relaxing.
  • The “Teen Zone” will be expanded and adapted to the technologies so popular with this age group.
  • A small café will be located in the foyer of this floor for those wishing to enjoy a hot or cold drink and a snack alone or with others.  Don’t worry, hot drink machines will be provided on all three levels.
  • A computer lab will be available for individual or group training.
  • The large meeting room will receive a makeover to transform it into an appealing and efficient place to hold community events and gatherings.
  • Several new windows will be added to the lower level. With the windows that take up much of the south side of the lower level, and the large window on the west side, there will be lots of natural light coming into the Youth Department.
  • A barrier-free washroom will be added to this level.

Let’s climb the stairs to the Main Floor which will remain the Adult Services Department of the Library. It too will see some changes as follows:

  • The fiction and the non-fiction collections will switch places.
  • The foyer will be expanded to provide more enclosed space to welcome visitors and to announce community and library events.
  • A new “Rotary Lounge” will feel like a “living room” with  comfortable seating around a fireplace. Magazines and newspapers will be conveniently located for easy accessibility.
  • A variety of seating areas both for leisure and for study will be strategically placed throughout the department making efficient use of the windows for natural lighting and the nooks already present for coziness.
  • The Marketplace will be front and slightly to the right when you enter the front doors of the Library. Here we plan to showcase new and notable books, DVDs and CDs.   It will also be the area where holds will be available.
  • The skylights will both be operational and will be covered with an opaque material that will protect library materials while letting light through to make the best use of natural lighting.
  • A barrier-free washroom will be added to this level.

One more flight of enclosed stairs will take us to the upper level, which will be the quieter area of the Library. Here’s what you can expect on this level:

  • The area  for the Local History/Genealogy/Canadiana collections will be expanded with staff available  to assist.
  • Two enclosed study rooms will be located on this floor for those who require the most amount of quiet for their activities.  Other seating areas will be situated throughout.
  • A Board Room will be available  not only for library meetings but will also for rental to community groups.
  • The half walls will be closed off up to the ceiling to help with current noise and heating issues.
  • A barrier-free washroom will be added to this level.

A small addition at the back of the building will mean that accessible washrooms will be available on all three levels.

You may do a “double take” when you re-enter the doors of our Revitalized Library at the end of 2011. We hope that there will be more than a few gasps and squeals of delight. In the meantime, beginning in April, we will look forward to welcoming you to our temporary spaces at Elgin Mall!

-HR