Improving the Quality of Library Services for Students with Disabilities
by Peter Hernon, Philip Calvert
December 2005, 248pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59158-300-4
$48, £36, 40€, A69
eBook Available: 978-0-89789-961-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Approximately ten percent of the U.S. student population (undergraduate and graduate) has a disability; and few if any libraries have failed to comply, at least in part, with federal regulations. But have they stopped to think whether the services they offer actually fit the bill?

The development and promotion of appropriate services for students with disabilities has been an integral part of the academic library since the 1990s. There remains, however, a dearth of literature—in marketing, library and information science, and other disciplines—that applies quality assessment instruments to existing programs. With this in mind, Hernon and Calvert present two versions of a data collection instrument, designed to compare the expectations of special students with their perceptions of how well a given service met their needs. Descriptions of successful initiatives at a variety of academic libraries are also included.

Adaptive technologies. Anti-discrimination laws. Equity and compliance issues. In-house policies (and politics). All of these support, in one form or another, the development and promotion of appropriate services for students with physical, learning, or, increasingly, psychological disabilities. But what of service quality? To date, there is a dearth of literature—in marketing, library and information science, and other disciplines—that applies quality assessment instruments to programs for special student populations. Not until now has anyone compared the expectations of such students with their perceptions of how well a given service meets their needs. Peter Hernon, Philip Calvert, and their colleagues—Kathleen Rogers, Todd K. Herriott, and Ava Gibson—discuss the circumstances affecting services for the disabled, and provide two versions of a data collection instrument, loosely based on SERVQUAL, that individual institutions can modify to reflect their particular needs and situations. International in scope, it incorporates the perspective of university attorneys and compliance officers, as well as descriptions of successful initiatives by senior library administrators in the U.S. (Larry Hardesty, Rush G. Miller, Sarah Hamrick, and Jennifer Lann) and New Zealand (Helen Renwick, Philip Jane, and John Redmayne.) Improving the Quality of Library Services for Students with Disabilities will assist libraries and other service components of academic institutions to adopt a proactive position, as well as challenge staff assumptions of service expectations and information needs.

Reviews

"Since meeting the information needs of students with disabilities is a topic addressed by less than a handful of recent books, this title is a welcome addition. Edited by Hernon and Calvert, both of whom also authored much of the volume, the book begins with an overview of the issue, followed by a discussion of the legal aspects of serving students with disabilities, a summary of the existing literature, and perspectives of library directors. The editors emphasize the importance of assessing the needs of disabled students; data collection, they stress, is one of the first steps every library should take when planning or improving services to a specific population. Readers learn how to develop a data collection instrument, how to conduct the survey, and how to report the results. . . . [R]ecommended for academic libraries."—Library Journal, August 1, 2006

"[T]he editors have done an outstanding job of educating this audience about services to the disabled in higher education. The book is well-conceived and written for clear communication of ideas and practices. Recommended for librarians, library administrators, and disabilities service staff who coordinate support services for students, this book offers a unique international perspective, provides resources for better understanding of the trends and issues for a distinct client-group, and meets its primary goal of offering an assessment methodology that is ready to go for anyone willing to take the challenge."—portal, July 1, 2006

"Academic libraries increasingly address the scholarly needs of students with disabilities and need guidance in this complex endeavor. This set of essays provides a look at approaches in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand."—Booklist/Professional Reading, May 15, 2006
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