The Sub-Committee on Accessibility for the University of Cambridge have produced some guidelines for Cambridge library staff working on buildings projects, or thinking about aspects of their library buildings.
The 'Basic Guidance for Library Access and Use' document provides detailed guidelines on key aspects of library building accessibility. The 'Library Access Checklist' document contains a list of criteria to assess the accessibility of a library building.
Both documents can be downloaded via the links below.
Research conducted by Cambridge University Libraries' Futurelib programme has shown that the capacity for individuals to tailor and customise their own working environment can be incredibly valuable. Providing options in terms of adjustable light and noise levels, as well as adjustable furniture, or a range of different types of furniture, is extremely important to support library users with a diverse range of needs and approaches to study.
When designing and furnishing library spaces, think about:
The Futurelib 'Protolib' project provides guidance as to designing a range of inter-connected library spaces, with different features and providing different experiences for library users.
The following statement is from the Cambridge University Students' Union Disabled Students' Officer, 2018 to 2019:
"Disabled people, like everyone else, have a whole variety of different - and sometimes conflicting - needs and preferences when it comes to study spaces. Aside from the more obvious space-related issues, like wheelchair and step-free access, there are lots of factors that come into play: lighting, sound levels, seating... Some of us need silent spaces free of distraction to be able to concentrate; on the other hand, some of us need to be able to move around, fidget, lie down, or make noise to enable us to be productive.
"Making spaces, and norms of conduct within those spaces, flexible and varied is really important. No one space will ever be fully accessible for everyone!"
It is useful for all library users to have as much information as possible about a library space before visiting. To support a diverse range of user needs and preferences, library websites should include:
It is recommended that each library has at least one height-adjustable desk, an ergonomic and height-adjustable chair, and an accessible lamp
The University has an online furniture quotation form available. Click here to access the online quotation form for accessible (and other) furniture.
All of the University's preferred furniture suppliers are able to supply ergonomic chairs. One chair that has been recommended is the Platinum Ergo Task Chair, which comes equipped with seat height and tilt, back height and tilt, adjustable headrest, height adjustable fold down arms, seat slide mechanism and inflatable lumbar support.
The responsibility for purchasing accessible furniture may fall under the remit of an individual library, department or faculty, depending on circumstance. Each Cambridge college will have its own procedure for purchasing and acquiring furniture.