The article “Public Library Services for Wheelchair-Bound Young People in Singapore” examined a study of public library services for wheelchair-bound young people in Singapore. It looked at the information needs of the demographic, their perceptions of libraries and their services, and problems they face using the library facilities and services. For the study they interviewed eleven people between the ages of twelve and twenty who are permanently wheelchair-bound.
The researchers found that they all shared similar interests and information needs as teens without disabilities. In addition, the teens did not seem to have an interest in reading material about their conditions, which indicates that YA library collections don’t need to add anything to better serve disabled teens.
None of the participants knew about the wide range of services that the library provides, but showed interest once they learned about them. The authors concluded that this was due to lack of promotion rather than lack of services.
The biggest problem that the teens faced in getting to the libraries was transportation. It was difficult for the teens to find a cheap way to physically visit the library because of their wheelchairs. Once at the library, many participants expressed that the placement of stairs, computer equipment and other physical factors often made it difficult to navigate around in a wheelchair.
It was interesting that few public libraries in this study were trained in being handicapped accessible. Here in the US we have the ADA so our libraries are handicapped accessible in the technical aspect. However, this study was a good reminder that libraries need to think of wheelchair-bound patrons when setting up furniture, etc. in the building. It also brought into question whether the librarians can try to find ways to attain cheap, accessible transportation for these teen patrons with physical disabilities.
Leong, I., & Higgins, S. (2010). Public Library Services For Wheelchair-Bound Young People In Singapore. Public Library Quarterly, 29(3), 210-229.