All over Twitter world last week the hashtag #OAWeek was trending and blogs were flying around about the topic.
My main passion for entering Library School last year was the open access to information that every one should be granted, with most being permitted.
What is your public library like for access for people who have a disability? There are many types of people who have hardships in life and people with special needs who need to be catered for. When was the last time you saw someone with a mental health need in the library enjoying themselves?
The systems in Scotland are fantastic and everyone is welcomed with open arms.
Where I grew up, not so much.
I am not saying the whole of Ireland does not have access for someone with a special need, be it physical or mental, but are they welcomed as much as other patrons?
I find it difficult to walk to a certain library in Cork county due to the pathway being so small, I couldn’t imagine a person with a wheelchair being safe without falling onto the road.
Simple things can change this, having an open, honest discussion with library staff, to see if they are fully comfortable if they were asked to help someone. 9/10 will say they are comfortable, but would they really? Are they just telling their bosses what they want to hear so that they will not get fired? This is a really scary time for Librarian Assistants in Ireland, as they are stuck between a rock and a hard place, have a look here to see the jobs that are available: http://bit.ly/1wtL8cJ These jobs are for people who are on unemployment, but need the MSc and have no experience, and they only received €50 extra a week. This link is the #1 reason I left my family and friends, as there are no jobs that I could have done without going on unemployment benefit.
There are regular users who will visit the library who have certain needs, and every day you learn how to help them access the information they are searching for a little bit easier.
What I would love is someone, anyone who is reading this and works in a library or with the public and is asked, “Are you comfortable with helping someone who has *insert certain need here* unattended?” and they honestly answer, be it yes or no.