Tag Archives: Collection Development

Accessibility and Inclusion Issues in Library Acquisitions: A Guideline to Evaluating and Marketing the Accessibility of Library E-Resources

Reviewed By: Jeana Clampitt, Javier Morales, Jennifer Nguyen

Link to article: http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI/article/view/314

SYNOPSIS
In this article, Kerry Falloon (2016) examines how academic libraries can ensure that their digital collections comply with federal regulations while meeting the needs of all users. She suggests a specific workflow that includes evaluation and marketing of digital materials. Falloon begins the article with a review of applicable regulations, including legal cases that have arisen when universities have failed to comply. Falloon then points to several existing guides which aim to assist librarians with making purchasing decisions. She discusses existing technologies, including specific products, and the benefit for all users of providing adaptable materials and technology. Then she presents a workflow model and discusses how it has been implemented at the City University of New York (CUNY), and specifically the College of Staten Island (CSI) Library. Finally, she discusses marketing, including the importance of signage and the use of LibGuides as a method of promotion.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Falloon states, “The purpose of this study is to educate acquisition librarians attempting to integrate best practices in evaluating the accessibility of acquired products and services into current workflows” (p. 2). In addition, the study aims to “provide a workflow model on how to ensure that a digital resource is evaluated and marketed for accessibility compliance” (p. 14).

These goals can be reframed as the following research questions:
RQ1: How can acquisitions librarians ensure that digital collections comply with accessibility regulations and are practical for all users?
RQ2: What are best practices for evaluating and marketing digital materials?
RQ3: What workflow model do librarians at the CSI Library use to ensure these goals are met?

METHODS
Falloon evaluates electronic resources in regards to the implementation of new workflows. She states that “traditional workflows need to be broken down and redesigned into new workflows, with patron services as its goal” (p. 6). According to Falloon, doing so will allow libraries to be better able to keep the accessibility and universal design needs of patrons with disabilities at the forefront in all electronic resource decision-making processes.

To help with the facilitation of these new workflows, the CUNY-CSI Library used the Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS) as a model to help in the evaluation of product and service accessibility. If properly adopted by library staff, TERMS would help create new workflows that would better allow them to evaluate whether electronic resources are “accessible, adaptable, supportive, and can be used by patrons of all abilities.” (p. 6).

In the course of this wider study of the accessibility needs of patrons, the CUNY-CSI Library has made a concerted effort to prioritize new policies and procedures. Several resources are highlighted, including the ALA’s “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution” policy and the ASCLA’s “Think Accessible Before You Buy” toolkit. These guides along with other resources can help librarians create more accessible content. They can then apply those skills to better evaluate the accessibility of other resources. The author also makes a point to note that accessibility isn’t limited to online resources. For example, library acquisitions staff often also handle the purchasing of hardware and software. This can include specialized equipment, such as screens that magnify text, large-print keyboards, or assistive programs that enable patrons to interact with electronic resources.

Falloon makes several recommendations, such as Zoom Text, a screen reader that serves several purposes. It can enlarge or enhance text and images on the screen, or even read aloud. Other recommendations include Kurzweil 3000, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and even built-in accessibility features found in Microsoft Office Suites. She argues that though several of these options would certainly require a significant investment on the part of the library, it would ultimately be worthwhile, if it better allows the library to assist a wider array of patrons.

FINDINGS & CONCLUSION
Falloon finds that though about 75% of resources acquired by the CUNY-CSI Library are electronic, they are not necessarily accessible. Acquisition and electronic resource librarians are not always mindful that new materials must adhere to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, or the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). “Acquisition and electronic resource librarians need to acquire knowledge of disability law compliance as it relates to product evaluations, purchasing decisions, marketing, and reviews” (p. 14). The article was written to enlighten said librarians of these issues and provide inclusive and accessible TERM steps, signage, and many electronic programs to check whether materials are accessible to those with disabilities.

FURTHER QUESTIONS
Falloon provides an excellent overview of the current situation regarding accessibility of digital collections as well as suggestions for implementing a workflow that emphasizes evaluation and marketing of such materials. Suggestions for future studies include how other academic libraries are approaching the topic, as well as advancements in other types of tech tools.

There have been several advances in technology since this article was published, including the rising popularity of intelligent virtual assistants. These have the potential to increase accessibility for users with disabilities. One further question is whether they are being designed to meet accessibility regulations. Companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have incorporated accessibility settings into these products. They are similar to the settings Falloon discusses for the Windows desktop environment. Other new technologies that are starting to see adoption in libraries are virtual reality (e.g. Google Expeditions) and augmented reality (e.g. librARi). While Falloon focuses on resources for users, there have also been advancements in library management software and repositories (e.g. LIBERO, Alexandria, and ePrints). It remains to be seen which of these different types of technologies will become mainstream and how libraries will work to make them accessible to users and staff.

As technology continues to evolve, accessibility regulations will likely need to be revised to include new formats. Falloon writes that librarians need to be aware of these changes, but does not discuss how to best keep staff aware of updates. One solution would be to assign one or more staff members to track these changes. This could be done by periodically reviewing the ADA website (https://www.ada.gov/), subscribing to email updates from the United States Department of Justice (https://www.justice.gov/news), or following the DoJ (@TheJusticeDept) and organizations such as the Southeast ADA Center (@adasoutheast) on social media.

Reference
Falloon, K. A. (2016). Accessibility and inclusion issues in library acquisitions: A guideline to evaluating and marketing the accessibility of library e-resources. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, 1, 1-16. Retrieved from http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI

Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians

Reviewed By: Brianna Anderson, Jennifer Mays, Julie Smith, Michael Vinyard

Link to article: https://doaj.org/article/4d9eab3dcad54d41849d504a8aafb9df

Synopsis and Research Questions

Hart and Mfazo (2010) found that most of the research and literature on public library service for the LGBT community was done in North America. Because South Africa has a history of struggling to overcome discrimination, the authors saw the need for research on the topic specific to this geographic area. They also found that the LGBT community tended to be overlooked as a minority group with specific needs. Their goals were to determine librarians’ awareness of information needs and how well libraries met those needs.

The research project had three distinct questions. The first was whether or not gay and lesbian library users should be considered a special user group with particular information and reading needs. Second, they wanted to know if public library staff were aware of the human rights issues surrounding services to the LGBT community. Lastly, they wanted to know if the public libraries in South Africa were providing for the special needs of the LGBT community through their collections and information services.

Methods

To help answer the first research question, the authors performed a literature review. Answering the remaining two questions involved looking at the collection development policy for the library system and conducting a survey composed of four sections administered to the main librarian responsible for branch collection development at each branch.

The first three survey segments included personal information about the respondent, professional details regarding awareness of the collection development policy and criteria used to make selections, and questions regarding information services. In the fourth segment, the Likert scale was used to help the authors examine the personal views of librarians regarding the provision of resources and services to the LGBT community and how these views may impact library service.

Findings and Conclusions

While the authors concluded from their literature review that the “professional, philosophical and research literature” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 106) considers gays and lesbians a special user group, the survey of 69 Cape Town librarians revealed that only 55% “consciously consider” (p.103) this group when developing their collections.  Even though 79% agree that access for the gay and lesbian community is a human rights issue and 91.5% are aware of policies that mandate a diverse collection, only 29% of librarians who responded agree that an explicit statement should be made in the policy for this user group.  Thus, the authors concluded that overall, the librarians do not consider gays and lesbians a special user group.

The authors describe the findings on how Cape Town libraries meet the needs of gays and lesbians as “spotty” and suggest “librarians’ prejudices might affect services to LGBT people” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 107). Opinion regarding the provision of services was dependent on size and location of the library.  Only 15% of librarians agreed that the needs of gays and lesbians are met at the city and regional libraries, but 33% of community librarians believed they were meeting needs.  Services were provided in some locations but not the majority, and in many categories, the number of libraries that practice inclusion of gays and lesbians in their regular services is woefully inadequate.  Only 6 of the 69 responding librarians stated that they have community information and pamphlet files for gays and lesbians while 55% of those that have display boards dedicate space to gay and lesbian information.  Librarians in charge of collection development even admit to rejecting LGBT literature based on the perception that it is pornographic. The actual purchase of LGBT books averaged less than one per year and only three librarians reported subscribing to an LGBT magazine or newsletter.  Half of the librarians did not buy any materials for LGBT patrons and 23 of the librarians either could not or would not answer the question, which is contrary to how the librarians said they consider gays and lesbians in collection development.  Their acknowledgement of collection policy did not translate to purchasing decisions. Finally, only 20 librarians reported being approached with LGBT related questions within the last year but due to inadequate study design, the authors could not conclude whether the librarians were able to adequately help those patrons.  The low number of queries may be due to librarians’ lack of awareness of gay and lesbian information needs and the perception by gays and lesbians that librarians are not aware of their needs.

Questions and Future Research

There are a number of areas where future research will be necessary to have a more complete picture of the needs of LGBT patrons in Cape Town and whether those needs are being met. Hart and Mfazo (2010) state that, as a public service and embodying the South African Constitution, libraries should provide “service impartially, fairly, equitably, and without bias” (p. 99). Yet, as the study shows, these are not being provided. The survey showed that the librarians in the Cape Town Library System are self-censoring LGBT items from the library by not buying them, seeking them out, or displaying information regarding the LGBT community. This leads to one of the biggest questions: How can Cape Town, and similar libraries, use this information to change their systems to create an equitable LGBT collection that integrates and displays that collection alongside the existing one?

One of the biggest omissions in the research is on the LGBT community itself. The research conducted is merely on the library system serving this community with very little information about the LGBT community. It would be helpful to know what the LGBT community thinks about the Cape Town Library System’s collection and if they think it is pertinent or helpful to them. How do they view the library and librarians? Do they feel their information needs are being met?

This leads to another area that may need future research: what kinds of information does this community seek and are they finding what they need? An answer to this would help close the gap in the library services. The information that Hart and Mfazo (2010) present is a bit vague in regards to which kinds of materials and literature are in demand. Are these fiction, non-fiction, periodicals? It would be interesting to research what information and materials are physically on the shelf, instead of relying on the answers in a survey. In addition, for the libraries that do include LGBT materials, it would be beneficial to know where they are finding these materials and if these vendors could be put on the list of provincial selectors. Currently, many of the libraries in Cape Town are buying less than one LGBT book a year but the study couldn’t conclusively pinpoint as to why this is the case except to say that it was the librarians’ choice. Are there other factors involved besides possible self-censoring by librarians? One librarian commented that “the Provincial library provides material but no-one has ever suggested buying specifically for the gay community from COCT [City of Cape Town]” (Hart and Mfazo, 2010, p. 105). Perhaps this is a system-wide issue and not just a problem in branch libraries. Finally, this study focused on gays and lesbians, but the LGBTQ+ community is a broad of spectrum of people and further investigation on the variety of needs is warranted.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Hart and Mfazo’s research showed that there is a definite gap in public library services to the LGBT communities of Cape Town. The library system has a lot of work to do to provide equitable services to their LGBT community. A review of library collection development policies may warrant the addition of purchasing and service considerations for this specific community. Librarians and staff would benefit from professional development and diversity training. This training would enable librarians and staff to better understand the need for information services for all people, as mandated by the South African Constitution.

Hart, G. and Mfazo, N. (2010). Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 76(2), 98-108. DOI: 10.7553/76-2-73

Young Adult Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Non-Fiction Collections and Countywide Anti-Discrimination Policies

By Lyn Betts, Melissa Feinberg, Lucy Johnson-Sims, Angela Larkin Crosher, Julia Wells

Link to article: http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/urbanlibrary/article/view/1247

Post by: Lyn Betts, Melissa Feinberg, Lucy Johnson-Sims, Angela Larkin Crosher, Julia Wells

The Background
Although the American Library Association Bill of Rights states that “library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves” (ALA, 1996), LGBTQ populations continue to be underserved by public library collections, particularly in the Southeastern United States. When “30% of teens [cannot] find LGBTQ-related materials they want…and only 20% [feel] safe from harassment in their local public libraries”(Martin & Murdock, 2007), you know something needs to change.

Glossary of Terms
Collection: Only non-fiction appropriate for the young adult reader is included in the term “collection.”

Gender: Distinct from biological sex; gender is a person’s social and cultural expression of masculinity, femininity, or some combination thereof. A person’s gender identity/expression may or may not match his/her biological sex.

LGBTQ: An acronym for lesbians (females who are attracted to other females emotionally and erotically), gay males (males who are attracted to other males emotionally and erotically), bisexuals (who may be attracted to both males and females), trans young adults (whose biological sex is different from their physical, emotional, and psychological expression of sex) or questioning young adults (who are seeking more information about gender, gender identity, and sexuality).

Young Adult: A person between the ages of 12 and 18.(p. 4)

The Study
Stringer-Stanback set out to test two hypotheses:
1. Counties that have LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinances will be more likely to have YA LGBTQ non-fiction materials in their public libraries.
2. Counties that do not have LGTBQ anti-discrimination ordinances will be less likely to have YA LGBTQ non-fiction materials in their public libraries.

Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were chosen because it is not illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or (with the exception of some counties in Florida) their gender identity.

The focus was on the four most populous counties in each of the five states, and if they had anti-discrimination ordinances. To find this information, the author looked to newspaper articles, county websites and national organizations.

With a list of twenty-three non-fiction books (culled from Lambda Literary Foundation Awards, ALA Stonewall Awards, and an ALA LGBTQ Roundtable bibliography), the author searched public library catalogs in each of the counties, to find out how many of these titles were held by each library.

Why include only non-fiction books? Although Stringer-Stanback acknowledges that fiction titles are also important, the young adult LGBTQ community is also looking for “real stories by real people” (Martin & Murdock, 2007).

Findings
There was no relationship between anti-discrimination ordinances and the volume of LGBTQ material.
More demographically diverse counties had more LGBTQ titles.

Thoughts and Questions

Demographics and Budgets
1. Budgets of the libraries were not taken into account. Even though the counties were chosen by total population, budgets of each library system may vary widely between the counties.
2. Libraries with no or few members of a community may, by necessity (financial for example), have smaller collections of items that are for that community. Knowing the demographics of the community (how many members identify as LGBTQ) is valuable to knowing if a community is being adequately served.
3. What are the socio-economic and education levels of the library communities in the study? Could these factors affect collection development?
4. What are the religious beliefs of the counties surveyed? Would these demographics play a role?

The Materials

1. Only twenty-three non-fiction titles were searched for in the catalogs. Could there have been a larger collection of both fiction and non-fiction relevant to LGBTQ youth that were not found in this limited search?
2. Data suggests that more YA LGTBQ non-fiction titles were collected in the year 2000. What factors contributed to this leap in collection development during this particular year?
3. The authors state that public libraries should provide more non-fiction materials to young adult LGTBQ readers in the South. By what criteria (focus on what issues) will selections be made?
4. LGTBQ populations are not a homogenous group. Different needs require different information and material choice.

Ideas for Future Studies

1. Look at the LGTBQ demographics of each county and whether libraries are meeting the needs of these populations.
2. Look at the socio-economic, educational and religious demographics of each community and how these may correlate to libraries’ LGBTQ collections.
3. Do a follow-up study on any changes in these counties. Have there been any other counties that have passed anti-discrimination ordinances since the article was published? Has anything changed in South Carolina since none of the four counties had passed anti-discrimination ordinances at the time of this study? Has anything changed in these counties since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June, 2015?
4. Study the entire collection of LGBTQ-related materials in each public library: fiction, non-fiction – separated by age level. Information needs will differ greatly between 12 year-olds and 18 year-olds.

References
American Library Association Council. (1996). Library bill of rights. Retrieved from:
http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/index.cfm

Martin, H. J., and Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.