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Accessibility of electronic library resources. Do librarians consider the needs of people with print disabilities when selecting digital materials?

| Proposal No: 962

Bios & Handouts


  • Axel Schmetzke, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Disability Area:            

Topic Area:                

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: All Levels Type of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

Through content analysis of the collection development literature, policy analysis, and phone surveys, this study explores the extent to which academic librarians consider, or are encouraged to consider, accessibility when selecting electronic information resources for procurement.


The shift from print to digital format has provided people with “print disabilities” unprecedented opportunities for information access. However, these opportunities are wasted unless electronic information resources comply with basic accessibility standards. Drawing from data collected in spring 2013 through policy analysis and phone surveys, the presenter will discuss the extent to which academic librarians at liberal arts colleges consider accessibility when selecting electronic information materials. In addition, he will shed some light on the professional collection development (CD) literature—by specifically asking whether its authors, often professor or leaders in this field, adequately address accessibility concerns. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of best practices and additional research needed in this area.


  1. Most CD policies do not include accessibility among the selection criteria for electronic library resources.
  2. Regardless of the policy, accessibility is often not considered during the actual selection process.
  3. Most books on CD of digital library resources do not address the needs of people with print disabilities.

Speaker Bio(s)

Axel Schmetzke

Axel Schmetzke is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he works as a reference and bibliographic instruction librarian. He holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies, as well as master-level degrees in communicative disorders, special education, and library & information science. He has researched and written about various aspects of online accessibility in higher education for the past 13 years.