Libraries plan to improve accessibility Modifications would bring Disabilities Act compliance

May 31, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

MOUNT AIRY -- Carroll County's Public Library Board of Trustees has adopted a federally mandated plan to bring its facilities in line with the new Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under the law, which went into effect Jan. 1, public facilities must submit by July 26 a plan showing how and when they will make necessary structural modifications and changes to employment practices to improve access for the disabled.

"This is good stuff that we're doing," said Scott Reinhart, the library's assistant director in charge of technical and support services. "It's a good law and will result in our patrons being better served."

Library Director Martha M. Makoski agreed.

"[ADA] opens up our minds a little bit about the way we do our jobs," she said. "When something like this intervenes, we have to rethink things, and it loosens us up. It's good for an organization to lose its rigidity."

Plans showing how the libraries will make all services accessible are due by Jan. 26, 1993.

"The biggest problem, and our largest area of expense, is access to the buildings," Makoski said.

She added that the ADA requires the public library board of trustees to devise a plan to modify the facilities, even though the county technically owns them.

"We have to make a recommendation to the commissioners, and then it's up to them," she said.

Board members accepted a plan for removing architectural barriers and suggestions on bringing the facilities in line with the act.

Barriers to entering the building are to be removed first; all services and rest rooms will then be made accessible to the disabled.

"Some of these things were up to code before, but the standards have changed," said Reinhart, who is overseeing the structural modifications.

The library's final priority is to ensure that all facilities are accessible to employees.

Although the act does not require employers to modify work areas until they've hired a disabled employee, library officials want to make the changes as soon as it is financially possible.

"I expect we will have disabled employees in all the branches someday," Reinhart said.

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