Update 3/2014: Some links that were available when this blog post was first published are no longer valid and have been removed.
Karen of Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied access to a close captioned video yesterday at the Naperville Public Library.
You can read the full story here.
The problem for Karen was that her daughter needed to watch a performance of A Christmas Carol for a school assignment. The rest of her class was going to a theatre to see the play live. Unfortunately the theatre was unable to provide an interpreter so Karen's daughter received permission to stay home and view a close captioned video recording of the story. Karen went over to the library where she regularly checks out nonfiction videos to get a copy of the Christmas classic.
And the library had one in their collection. And it was available. But not for Karen.
All because it was classified as a Fiction Video.
You see the problem for the librarian who helped her locate the video was that Karen wasn't entitled to the video according to library policy because her taxes are paid to another library. Here is the reciprocal borrowing policy as stated on their website:
Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the Naperville Public Library.
A Reciprocal Borrower is one who uses a library card from a reciprocating library to check out materials at Naperville Public Library. As a REGISTERED reciprocal borrower you may check out most materials and use the online Library catalog. REGISTERED reciprocal borrowers will have the same rights and responsibilities as Naperville card holders with these few exceptions (Your home library may provide these services.):
Cannot borrow Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Cannot borrow Adult audio books
Cannot place Holds.
Cannot use Interlibrary loan Services.
No access to Online Databases remotely; you can use them in-house.
Cannot reserve computers in computer labs.
For full service at Naperville Public Library, a card may be purchased for an annual fee, giving the borrower full access to all services.
A Reciprocal borrower who has paid an annual fee of $100 is entitled to unlimited checkouts of:
Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Adult and children's talking books.
Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the American Library Association.
Interestingly enough the American Library Association has this quote about their Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy approved in 2001. "Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. This new policy will help libraries improve services for people with disabilities in their communities."
This policy specifically mentions the deaf and hard of hearing. You can read a copy of the policy here.
On page 7 of the policy under a section entitled "Open dialogue with participants" the question is posted Are there instances where the library should make special accommodations for users? [emphasis mine]
So you may be thinking why didn't Karen just go to her home library for the video. They didn't have it. The librarian found that out for her with a phone call.
Obviously in my opinion, knowing that Karen's library didn't have the video and that it was needed for school, the librarian should have made an exception to the policy to accomodate Karen's daughter's need for closed captioning. At the very least, the librarian should have offered to let Karen's daughter view the video at the library at a mutually convenient time.
What happened instead? Karen was given two choices: Fork over $100 to receive full access or Call a friend who lives in Naperville to come out in the cold and check it out for you. Which would you have chosen? Neither option was acceptable to Karen.
In this situation, a librarian chose to follow the RULES and missed her chance to be sensitive to the needs of her community. I'm saddened by it. But I hope that writing about it on my blog will help raise awareness of how well intentioned rules can be used to deny access.
January 16, 2009: In the comment section, Kay posted the link to DCMP the Described and Captioned Media Project http://www.dcmp.org/. This free service is a federal project that provides described videos for the blind and captioned videos to the deaf. Note: to qualify for the service you need to be a K-12 student who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Teachers of these students also qualify. Thank you, Kay!
January 6, 2009: In the comments section, you will find a reply from Julie Rothenfluh, the Deputy Director of the Naperville Public Library. She states that Karen was offered more choices than the two I mentioned here (which I got from Karen's original post.)
Blogger Bill Cresswell has suggested this resource for subtitled DVDs: http://dvd-subtitles.com/ Thanks, Bill!
Another blogger has posted on this situation. Scrooged by Library Rules