Developing accessible libraries and inclusive librarians in the 21st century: Examples from practice

Ruth V. Small, William N. Myhill, Lydia Herring-Harrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Accessibility and inclusion are at the very core of what libraries are all about and libraries and librarians have an essential, catalytic role to play in facilitating the full participation of people with disabilities in society. Inclusive librarians ensure that their library's facilities, services, programs, collections, and technology are designed in ways in which all people, regardless of their ability, have an opportunity to participate in and use them. The purpose of this chapter is to raise librarian awareness to the importance of providing effective, well-designed, inclusive programs and services to patrons with disabilities and ensuring that all libraries are physically and virtually accessible to everyone. Methodology/approach: The chapter provides a brief review of the history and current state of accessible and inclusive libraries, including the laws and policies governing it and identifies some of the major barriers to successful accessibility and inclusion (including insufficient time and money, externally controlled decision-making, unawareness of existing services, and inadequate training). Findings: The chapter offers a variety of practical strategies for overcoming those barriers, with potential or actual examples of how librarians have/can put them into action. Originality/value: The chapter concludes with descriptions of special national, regional, and state initiatives, including Syracuse University's Project ENABLE (Expanding Nondiscriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere), Florida State University's Project PALS (Panhandle Autism Library Services), and the Illinois State Library's Targeting Autism projects, all designed to help librarians ensure that their library' facilities, programs, and services are accessible and inclusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in Librarianship
StatePublished - 2015


  • Accessibility
  • Disabilities
  • Inclusion
  • Librarians
  • Libraries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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