Where is your large print section? Is it close to the door or far away? Many patrons who use this collection are not able to easily traverse the entire length of a library building to find materials they seek. Although not used solely by the over 55 set, many patrons who seek out the large print collection have vision issues and difficulty locating this area of the library easily without help.
How high or low are the shelves where the books are placed? Standard bay heights can reach up to seven feet. Yes, kick stools can provide a leg up to reach the tallest shelves, but would you really want a fragile elderly person hoisting themselves up on a rolling stool to reach a book? Same can be said for placing books on the lowest shelf. If patrons are reading large print as a matter of necessity and not choice, chances are those volumes on the lowest shelf will not be read either partially because of location and partially because patrons are unable to stoop or bend to see them.
So, what is a library to do? If space allows, place books no higher than eye-level and no lower than the next to bottom shelves where spines are more easily read. Place a chair or two near the stacks that can be easily accessed for browsing and resting, particularly if the collection is a ways from an entrance to the library. Ensure that the large print has correspondingly larger signage to indicate its location. If space does not allow this type of set-up, then perhaps locating the large print collection near a reference desk would enable librarians to spot those needing help on taller or lower shelving find items.
Collection development in large print should be targeted to those subjects that interest older patrons, a large segment of the users who frequent large print. Often, Westerns, Christian fiction and Mysteries/Thrillers are popular choices. Regular surveys and readers advisory to patrons who use the collection can solicit information on likes, dislikes and wish lists of regular patrons. Brochures and information sheets in this area (you do have them, donít you?) should be at least 14-point type for ease of reading.
With a little thought and consideration, libraries can make spaces for all consumers in their communities. Providing a safe and welcoming place for disabled and low vision patrons ensures that these patrons feel that the library is a place for them as well.