Libraries do not have a "choice" between providing services in an
accessible location and offering alternative service delivery (such as
mail delivery of items for loan). Instead, libraries covered by title II
of the ADA have an obligation to provide BOTH modes of service.
Physical access to the library is obviously the preferred mode of service,
since it fosters integration of people with disabilities and makes possible
participation in programs held at the library.
But many people with disabilities are unable to get to and from the
library, either as a result of institutionalization or serious health
problems which restrict mobility, or because public transit systems and
public walkways are inadequate or inaccessible. EVERY library has at least
some customers who fall into this category, and the library has the legal
and moral responsibility to ensure that these customers are able to equally
benefit from library services.
At this point, most libraries should have moved far beyond the simple
questions (such as "do we have to offer items by mail?" or "do our
buildings need to be accessible?") and should instead be wrestling with
more significant problems (such as "how do we make programs held at the
library accessible to those who cannot get here?"). For example, very few
libraries currently videotape programs for distribution to members of the
public who cannot get to the library or broadcast these programs on public
Michael G. Gunde, Associate Library Director
Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services
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