Thinking About Access

SR Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science, typed out in blue and green on two identical sheets of paper.

Five Laws of Library Science, blue and green. Image by rochelle hartman at Flickr.

Some scattered thoughts about access to cultural institutions and GLAM (gallery, library, archive, museum) spaces that have been rattling around in my head for about a month, mostly questions.

When we say access, what kinds of access are we addressing? What kind of barriers to access are we focused on?

Intellectual access: Specifically as barriers, such as illiteracy, active illiteracy, untreated intellectual disorders, under-educated/poorly educated. Are our instructional staff reaching out and teaching these crucial skills? Are our tools and visual guides too hard to read for people who are low reading levels or for whom English is not their native language?

Physical access: Is this something that is in compliance with ADA/disability guidelines, but also impoverished areas that don’t have GLAM spaces, or places that aren’t easily reachable by public transit and aren’t part of anyone’s homebound route or bookmobile route? Can people get inside the building easily, and once inside, can they navigate around and access materials and exhibits without requesting aid?

Continue reading