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The Library of The Future

Editor's Note: Carole Robertson is President of AEBC's Toronto Chapter. The library she envisions here represents a combination of recommendations already made by various library boards, and her own wish-list of accessibility features.

I have a wonderful vision of people who are blind or partially sighted visiting their local public libraries and being able to independently access the full range of materials and services. They look forward to going, feel comfortable while there, and leave with a deep sense of satisfaction.

The way to this futuristic library is well defined, whether you are driven, take public transportation or walk. Bus drivers call out the stop for the library no matter which direction you're coming from, and accessible parking is plentiful. Numerous braille signs and tactile markings on the sidewalk point the way to the entrance.

The library itself is well lit with braille and colour-contrasting signs clearly indicating where everything is located. An information clerk just inside the entrance provides verbal explanations and is willing to accompany you to your desired section, but directions are also clearly marked both in braille and regular, easy to read signage. Washroom facilities have door sensors to indicate whether they are for men or women and they are clearly marked in braille.

At the front desk there are all kinds of information pamphlets in various formats--print, large print, braille, cassette, compact disk (CD) and computer disk. There are also machines available on which you can play the CD's or cassettes, and computers to read the electronic pamphlets.

Several computers are equipped with JAWS so you can listen to all the information you want, such as lists of talking books and where to find them. The talking book section is large with shelves divided into cassettes, CD's and DVD's, or whatever new technology is available.

There are several librarians to assist you in finding the type of books or magazines you wish. The books are all named in braille or large print and there are lists of bestsellers both in paperback and hardcover. There is also a talking book machine that can read the flyleaf on a book cover so you can know what the book is about and decide whether or not you want to read it.

At certain hours there are social groups in which books are introduced and discussed. This provides you with the latest information and gives you the opportunity to share your reading experiences.

When you leave the library, you are satisfied and happy that you maintained your independence and accomplished your goals in coming to the library. You are now eager for positive future experiences.