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Differing Abilities and the Library
Fostering Equity for Patrons and Staff with Disabilities
by Clayton A. Copeland, Editor
September 2022, 160pp, 7x10
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-5907-6
$60, £45, 52€, A82
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5908-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A useful introduction to working with people who are differently abled, whether they’re patrons or colleagues.

Librarians need to understand the needs and abilities of differently abled patrons, and anyone responsible for hiring librarians must understand the abilities of potential hires who are differently abled. This book serves as an educational resource for both groups.

Understanding the needs and abilities of patrons who are differently abled increases librarians’ ability to serve these patrons from childhood through adulthood. While some librarians are fortunate to have had coursework to help them understand the needs and abilities of the differently abled, many LIS students have had little experience working with this diverse group. In addition, many persons who are differently abled would like to become librarians.

Differing Abilities and the Library helps readers understand the challenges faced by people who are differently abled, both as patrons and as potential information professionals. Readers will learn to assess their library’s physical facilities, programming, staff, and continuing education to ensure that their libraries are prepared to include people of all abilities. Inclusive programming suggestions will help librarians to meet the needs of patrons and colleagues with mobility and dexterity problems, learning differences, hearing and vision limitations, sensory and cognitive challenges, autism, and more. Additional information is included about assistive and adaptive technologies and web accessibility. Librarians will find this information accessible and important as they strive for equity and inclusivity.


  • Identifies the differently abled who are patrons and employees in libraries
  • Details the needs and abilities of a special clientele
  • Encourages the interest of management in hiring applicants who are differently abled
Clayton A. Copeland, PhD, is director of the SLIS Laboratory for Leadership in the Equity of Access and Diversity (LLEAD) and helps to manage the Linda Lucas Walling Collection for Universal Access. Her research focuses on equity of access to information for underserved populations and literacy. She also pursues research interests in technology, universal design, facilities planning, materials and programming for children and young adults, and information behavior. Dr. Copeland teaches courses in foundations of library and information science, technology, information literacy, information resources, planning library and information facilities, and materials and programming.
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