Saturday Snap – My Halloween Costume = Weston Dressler

Although his was the right fibula which is even worse! 

I've been on crutches for the past two weeks so we decided to just hit a couple local malls for trick or treating today.  That meant I could take advantage of their free wheelchairs as that's a lot easier on the arm pits then hauling my butt around the neighbourhood.   

One good thing coming out of this injury – I've always known how we often think about library accessibility issues in a very theoretical way but this has really brought them home in a real, tangible way.  For instance, at work, we are accessible for patrons via a ramp and we have our Outreach Department immediately inside our front doors.  But on the other hand, our staff entrance requires people to either go up or down about ten stairs before they can get to an elevator.  (Edit: There is a workaround for this – a colleague who had to come to work on crutches earlier this year told me that she was going to make arrangements to be met by someone at our main patron entrance each day if the stairs proved too burdensome.  Presumably, the same accommodation could be made for a wheelchair bound employee.)

Then today, I got to try my borrowed wheelchair in one of our library branches that happens to be located in a local mall.  Very happy to report that I had very few issues – there was only one place where I was blocked and if I'd nudged one chair aside, I'd probably have been fine.  The other slight issue is that the aisles in the library are wide enough for a wheelchair but if a patron is already there looking at the bookshelves, it looked like it might be a tight fit to get by in a wheelchair!  (I didn't try that – just wheeled to the next aisle until I found a clear route to the magazine area where I hung out while Shea and Pace finished their lap for loot.) 

One presentation I attended at CLA about seniors in libraries also suggested that it was worthwhile to have items like wheelchairs and/or walkers with baskets available for patrons although this is quite rare (including at RPL as far as I know), both for cost reasons and also space reasons. 

I wonder if you could take it one step further and have staff maneuver around the library in a wheelchair as part of their orientation or a training program, similar to how we teach cultural sensitivity and how to deal with mentally ill patrons? 

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