DECEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
• Research libraries should institute a plan to make all future websites, pages, and documents
accessible while tackling older web resources over time.
• Universal accessibility should be embedded in future licensed and acquired products and
services so special conversion to a usable format will only be required for retrospective works.
With born-digital texts, e-readers, and other mobile devices, research libraries should advocate
for accessible solutions up front—born-accessible materials—obviating the need for resource-
intensive reformatting and retrofitting. Accessibility should be a central decision factor in choosing
information products and services. Such an approach will meet both mission and the law.
• Accessibility and universal design considerations should be integrated into the library’s technology
planning and procurement processes. New technology-based library services should be evaluated
for accessibility standards.
• Licensing must be done deliberately to protect the values and meet the legal requirements of
accessibility, particularly in light of libraries’ increasing reliance on licensed content in the digital
environment. Research libraries should negotiate for more favorable terms in order to permit
broader latitude to adapt content to meet the needs of patrons. With copyrighted works, research
libraries should aggressively assert fair use in support of accessible services for the print disabled.
• Research libraries should have user-focused policies and procedures for patrons with disabilities
that are readily available and kept up to date; accessibility service awareness needs to be a standard
part of staff training.
• Research libraries should designate a liaison librarian who can provide or coordinate library
assistance for users in partnership with the institution’s disability services office and central IT.
Research libraries should also provide professional development for all staff to better understand
disabilities, including learning disabilities.
• Research libraries should identify a point person to partner with institutional assistive technology
experts and information technologists to monitor trends and developments in this area on an
ongoing basis, such as conducting usability testing with disabled students, faculty, and staff as
well as helping to guide the organization’s efforts to provide universal access for library collections
and services. Similarly, this team should work with legal services and stay up to date on legal
developments and best practices so that licensing and fair use determinations reflect current