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Library Service to the Handicapped and Institutionalized

By Genevieve M. Casey


like most others, has discovered a new level of social conscience. Individually and institutionally we have begun to rethink the concept of “equal access ” to which we have long given lip service, and to realize that there is more to access than being there in the same old buildings, manned by the same old guard, offering the same old services. We are taking seriously the principle of accountability to our supporting governmental bodies and, even more seriously, accountability to our users, actual and potential. We are growing to understand that an often marginal impact on somewhere between 10 and 25 percent of the total community is just not enough. With our newly opened hearts and eyes, we are taking a new look at our public library users, Frequently we see an ever-narrowing circle of white, middle class, well educated, affluent, independent adults and an also declining number of elementary and high school students who now tend to use their improved school media centers. We are pondering, also, our non-users-the non-reading, under-educated, poor, socially deprived, culturally different, often black or Chicano residents of central cities-for whom we have yet to devise a meaningful pattern of library service. One segment of the public library’s vast untapped clientele to which we are now paying more attention is the handicapped, the aged, the institutionalized, and the shut-in, people who cannot come to us either because they are literally locked up in mental hospitals and prisons, or because they are just as actually locked into their own immediate environments by physical or mental disabilities. Although stereotypes are dangerous, we know that many of this seg

Year: 2011
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