Guide 4: Navigating the library

The previous guide helped us assess the approach to and entry into the library. This one considers moving around the library building safely and easily. Again, it’s important to ‘walk through’ the building to discover how easy/difficult navigation is.

Starting off where we left the previous ‘walk-through’:

  • What do you see first?
  • Do the first few steps into the library invite you to walk further and look around?
  • Is the library tidy and well-organised? For example, is the enquiry point tidy, or are surfaces covered in piles of leaflets and papers?
  • Is your passage through the library straightforward, or are there obstacles? Are these easily negotiated, or more major barriers?
  • How are the shelves arranged? Is it easy to find your way around them?
  • Are there guides (e.g. floor textures) for visually-impaired people?
  • Is it clear where a visitor needs to go to get help?
  • Is the library clearly signed? And is this signage in a format that a visually-impaired person will be able to read? Is the typeface/font large enough? Is there a Braille option
  • How easy is it to find library materials for visually-impaired people? (Large print, audio books, etc). Are these in a clearly-defined area?
  • How well/poorly do you think the library is lit? For example, how far can you see through the library? Are there areas where it is difficult to see? Are there lights that shine in your face? Or some shelves that are hard to see in sunlight? Or parts of the library that are very dark?
  • Is the library all on one floor, or will you need to use stairs or a lift? How well are these signposted? Are the stairs well-lit and clearly defined (eg edges marked)? Are the instructions for the use of the lift clear? Is the lift itself clearly lit? Does the lift ‘speak’, or does the user have to know where to get out?
  • Are there seating areas? How well are these defined? And lit?

There will be things you discover that:

  • You can do something about straightaway (obstacles in walkways, for example)
  • You can note and report, with the intention of the issue being resolved asap (e.g. one of the entrance doors is sticking as it opens)
  • You can raise with your colleagues to find ways of resolving (e.g. layout of the stock, location of materials for visually impaired people)
  • You can note and report, but recognise that it is not likely to be rectified in the short-term (e.g. reorganising the lighting)…
  • … so find some ways of getting round this, if possible.