On our tour through the library collections and facilities, Mr. Escobar drew my attention to features such as designated safe areas for wheelchair-bound customers in the event of a fire, and the location of safe areas in the event of a tornado. On the second floor, stepstools are provided to help customers to reach books on top shelves, and we took time to move these stools to locations where customers were less likely to trip over them. As students learn in LIS 5023, attention to these aspects of the physical library facility facilitates customer comfort and accessibility.
One particularly ingenious resource location feature involved the use of inflatables in the children’s nonfiction collection. By suspending an inflatable dinosaur from the ceiling above the dinosaur books, a rocketship over the space books, etc., children’s reference staff can help children locate books on popular subjects even when they are swamped and cannot leave the desk. The librarian can simply point to the appropriate inflatable and tell the child that the books they want are located under it. Of course, when few customers are present, the librarian can walk the child to the appropriate shelf, but as the Hardesty Library is one of the busiest libraries, and the children’s department is especially swamped in the summer, this feature is very helpful for staff and customers.
Mr. Escobar also illustrated the challenge of catering to the needs and desires of various interested parties, including customers, donors, staff, volunteers, administrators and board members. The literary criticism collection had been located directly behind the reference desk on the second floor, but has since been relocated. A Tulsa City-County Library executive said that the placement of these bookshelves spoiled the view of the large arched window which faces northwest. Moving these shelves was not particularly detrimental to customer access, thus in the interest of aesthetics and accomodating the powers that be, this collection was relocated.