I thought that this might be a really useful session for picking up tips on how to make the library more inclusive. The talk started off with a brief overview of the Equality Act 2010 and then launched into different types of services offered by public libraries to make them inclusive such as housebound services. The talk then moved onto look at the 6 steps that the RNIB have to help blind and partially sighted people choose the right type of book using Your Reading Choices
The next part was about homeless projects that the presenter had been involved with in London. This started a debate over whether homeless people should be allowed into libraries, as one of the delegates had allowed a homeless person into the library she was working at, only for security to make them leave. The consensus of opinion was that if the person was disruptive, aggressive etc then they should be removed but they should not be made to leave if it is because they are considered undesirable in some way. This prejudice we all thought was probably illegal too.
Then the session moved back to outreach public library services and how they were under threat. At this point the presentation got somewhat bitty. There was brief mentions about enquiry services and electronic services, which I got the impression the presenter did not know much about, other than being a good thing for inclusion. There was not really any mention of how to promote these services or if library patrons have the knowledge to use them, and if not where do they acquire the knowledge?
Diversity was briefly mentioned with an overview of LGBT awareness and Black History Month, before the talk moved back to public library cuts. There was then 2 slides about University cuts and how because students are paying more they are expecting more. It was specifically mentioned that University library opening hours in the UK (many now being 24/7) compare very favourably with overseas University libraries opening times. The fact that the libraries are not staffed by library staff all the time was not mentioned until it was pointed out by the delegates. Many Universities rely on their security staff during unsociable hours, so what kind of service are the students getting?
The talk then moved back to the public library cuts and the use of volunteers and work placement. The last part was a group discussion on what we do in our libraries. This was very useful as delegates worked in a variety of different sectors.