UM Mansfield Library Designs New Accessible User Experiences

February 12, 2020

The addition of a card reader is a part of UM’s Mansfield Library efforts to make spaces accessible for all. MISSOULA – After interviewing users about their experiences, the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library has made changes to increase accessibility for everyone.

A diverse population uses the Mansfield Library, which is open longer hours each semester than any other academic library in Montana. After taking input from as many users as possible, library employees developed the goal to create an effective cognitive environment, comfortable space and accessible resources for optimal learning.

Those interviewed agreed the library needed barrier-free access to adjustable workstations for comfortable use. Based on user feedback, updates to the library Accessible Technology Room created a quiet, flexible workspace for individuals or small groups.

A card reader replaced the lock mechanism on the door to the Accessible Technology Room, removing the access barrier created by needing to use a key to enter the room. The card reader electronically unlocks and unlatches the door with a simple swipe or tap of an approved Griz Card. Once unlocked, the door pushes open with ease. The addition of a lounge chair, adjustable computer cart and open desk space and a switch from fluorescent to full-spectrum lights successfully made the Accessible Technology Room more comfortable and easier to use.

Because accessibility runs through every single library experience, audio description was added to library exhibits to create sound experiences.

Located on library level five, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Wilderness Act and the Diversity of One exhibits use a scannable QR code and headphones to tell the user about the exhibit.

“The idea is to make sure we’re designing for the widest possible experience,” said Teressa Keenan, an accessibility liaison for the Mansfield Library. “Accessible technology and spaces work for everyone.”

For more information on accessibility in the Mansfield Library, visit the online research guide at Accessibility in the Library.

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Contact: Teressa Keenan, head of bibliographic management services and metadata librarian, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 406-243-4592, teressa.keenan@umontana.edu.