Citation: Schmetzke, A. (2015). Collection development, e-resources, and barrier-free access. in B. Wentz, P.T. Jaeger, & J.C. Bertot, (Eds.), Accessibility for persons with disabilities and the inclusive future of libraries. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group.
In this book chapter, Schmetzke examines e-resource accessibility with a specific eye to how librarians can keep accessibility issues in mind when acquiring (or when subscribing to) various e-resources like databases and online journals. The author includes a letter from a friend who was given the run-around by her local library and its consortium when she was unable to access a database with her screen reader to show that “clearly, librarians should consider accessibility when considering electronic information products” (p.113).
With this as his impetus, the author examined library schools, existing literature, and professional library organizations to get a sense of whether or not librarians were receiving guidance encouraging them to keep issues of accessibility in mind when doing so, or not.
The rest of the chapter is split into three parts, as summarized below:
- ALA – Schmetzke mentions that, despite a lack of communication between ALA’s various divisions and interest groups, ALA has at least discussed the accessibility of electronic resources a few times. The most important document to have come out of this, he says, is “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution,” a 2009 resolution by the ALA council which argues strongly for the responsibility of libraries to ensure their electronic resources meet Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 to the best of their abilities. (p.115)
- ARL – Schmetzke points to the 2012 Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with Print Disabilities, which suggests that libraries include accessibility considerations both when creating their own technology services and when acquiring them from vendors (p. 118).
This section also mentions three web accessibility toolkits:
- ARL Web Accessibility Toolkit
- ASCLA’s “Think Accessible Before you Buy”
- Ontario Council of University Libraries’ Accessibility Information Toolkit for Libraries
Schmetzke notes that, while data about how (or if) accessibility is taught in library schools is scarce, several surveys have shown a lack of focus on the topic in North American schools.
Schmetzke performed a content analysis on 55 books about collection development published between 2000 and 2014 to determine the coverage of accessibility in general and in relation to e-resources, concluding that very few books cover the topic.