Library Accessibility Committee works to expand library accessibility

Initiatives include having more noise-canceling headphones and testing softer lighting in study rooms.

By Tiffany Marquez Escobar | May 2, 2024 12:05pm

View from the second floor of the Clark Library.

Media Credit: Parker Shoaff / The Beacon

In the summer of 2021, a task force of library assistants formed to address accessibility issues at the library. The task force, officially the Library Accessibility Committee, actively works towards making library spaces, services and resources more available for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. 

Their most recent projects involve purchasing more noise-canceling headphones after seeing popular demand for them and tranquility kits that include fidget toys and cards with words of affirmation to reduce stress. 

Both are available for checkout at the library’s front desk. 

“We're trying to bring people together and make it so that we have somebody who's actually proactively thinking about what could we do to make [accessibility] easier,” Sarah Nuxoll, an administrative assistant at the Clark Library, said. “Without somebody having to come and advocate for their own, always having to bear the burden of saying, ‘Can you make this accessible?’” 

Many of the projects the committee are actively working on are based on a survey they conducted on library staff and students. Questions on the survey asked library staff if they’ve noticed users having issues with accessibility in the library or if library users themselves had feedback. 

Part of the committee’s mission also includes addressing people with disabilities that may be overlooked, such as anxiety. By updating the library’s accessibility page, the committee hopes to make it easier for students to navigate and find resources online.

“It addresses the need to put out information in a variety of ways instead of relying on the patrons [the students] to approach somebody and ask,” Serials Technical Assistant Jules Mackin said. “Not everybody's comfortable doing that, so we really want to create a welcoming space.”

Students working inside a private study room in the Clark Library.

by Kyler Alboro / The Beacon

For Nuxoll, her passion for expanding accessibility in the library stems from her own personal experience. Having been diagnosed with a chronic illness, Nuxoll began the UP Disability Affinity Group and was enthusiastic to find support among the UP community. 

“I love to build disability pride [and] disability inclusion and to increase that sense of community,” Nuxoll said. “For me, this was kind of born of that idea of inclusion and then basic access and hoping that helping [disabilities] be more normalized.”

The Library Accessibility Committee continues to be driven by their duty as librarians. For Reference Librarian Heidi Senior, that duty calls for them to ensure the library can be accessible to all. 

“It's just the basic ethics of being a librarian in a space that is supposed to be available to everyone,” Senior said. “You could see that we just provide the services, but when you really think about each individual user needing assistance, then you have to think about all of the whole spectrum of people and being able to welcome all of them.”

Students can leave anonymous feedback on how the library can continue to expand accessibility via the Comments and Suggestions form

Tiffany Marquez Escobar is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at