On the Shelves: A Case Study on Library Access

Date Updated


My name is Shannon. I have Spina Bifida, a mobility impairment, and use a wheelchair for mobility. My coursework in elementary education requires frequent use of the library to conduct literature reviews of children's books and research to create classroom projects.

Access Issue

In order to do my required coursework, I needed assistance retrieving these books from the library shelves, because I could not reach them from my wheelchair. Library staff said that they did not have the time to pull books from the shelves for me, and since I was registered with the disability services office, someone from that office should assist me.


I met with a disability services office counselor to explain my concern about the library's decision. He met with the library staff to resolve the issue. The disability services office staff member informed the library staff that they were required to provide accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. The library agreed that if the student provided them with a list, the books would be pulled within 24 hours.


This case study illustrates the following:

  1. Students with disabilities may need accommodations to access library and reference materials.
  2. All library staff need to be aware of procedures for assisting students with disabilities who request accommodations.
  3. Campuses should ensure that students have timely access to printed and electronic resources available in academic libraries.