What's that beeping in the stacks?
by Kathy Roegge, MLS
You see them everywhere, in the grocery stores, malls, on the streets and advertised on television. They have made life easier for those who are disabled even when the condition is temporary. Libraries of all types are now starting to purchase motorized scooters for the convenience of their disabled patrons. Woodridge Public Library ( http://www.woodridgelibrary.org) is one of the libraries that provides a scooter for their patrons.
Susan McNeil-Marshall, Library Director, reports that patrons are delighted with the service. Their library building is about 55,000 square feet making the distance far between the library’s entrance and either the reference collection or book stacks for patrons to travel. For elderly patrons or ones with limited mobility the scooter helps them move about the library more easily. While having a motorized scooter isn’t required by the American with Disabilities Act the Woodridge Library thought making one available would be a great benefit for their patrons. The scooter makes visits to the library a more pleasant experience and allows greater access to library services.
Amigo scooter at Woodridge (photo provided by Kate Boyle, MLS)
The scooter, when not being used, sits charging behind the circulation desk. All front desk staff are trained so they can instruct patrons on its use. The patrons only have to ask at the desk for the scooter, no verification is required. Susan reports that misuse hasn’t been an issue and patrons with no disability respect the intent of the service. The only time library staff reported complaints was when the first scooter wasn’t working. Because they did not want the service disrupted the library rented one until a new one was purchased. Disabled patrons are grateful to the library for providing the scooter for their convenience.
Recently two Metropolitan Library System staff required the use of motorized carts at work. Both Director Alice Calabrese and Building/Delivery Manager Randy Patka sustained injuries outside of work that made it difficult for them to get around the office. For a few weeks they were motoring around the Burr Ridge office corridors, beeping for others to watch out.
Alice reports that “driving around on the scooter at work made me reflect on how difficult it is for a disabled person to get around; for example someone has to help open doors for you. The scooter certainly made my life easier, because I did not have to use crutches or the walker”.
According to the U.S. Census about one in five U.S. residents - 19 percent - reported some level of disability in 2005. These 54.4 million Americans are roughly equal to the combined total populations of California and Florida. Among those with a disability, roughly 3.3 million people, or 1 percent, age 15 and older used a wheelchair or similar device, with 10.2 million using a cane, crutches or walker.
Because of the percentage of disabled in our population, especially if your library is large and requires patrons to do some walking, a scooter might be a service to consider offering. Information about motorized scooters is easily available on the internet, one site to check is Disabled World at http://www.disabled-world.com. Susan McNeil-Marshall suggests that you also check with a local pharmacy or medical supply store.
Questions about this article can be e-mailed to the MLS Consultants at email@example.com.
Published January 21, 2009 in vol. 3, iss. 2 [View]