March 12, 2008

Library Cards for People with Disabilities

Mary at the Hall Memorial Library asked "Do any of you have a procedure in place that is legal and respectful, for giving library cards to people with disabilities such as Alzheimer's, adult autism, or others who have aides? I am also wondering about institutional cards...."

  • We don't have a separate policy about people who have medical conditions, we just put a message in patron's record saying the name of the caregiver who will pick up their items.
    We have people coming from the Rockingham Home, some are in assisted living and others are in the nursing home section of the facility. At first we just had all of them lumped together with their aide responsible for all. We found that it not only did not give us a good idea of which person actually had the book, the individuals themselves wanted to be recognized and wanted their own cards. We issued them their own cards and put in a notation in our patron system reminding us that they are actually at Rockingham.

  • We have a few special needs children here and they get a card, just like their peers, as long as their parents sign to be responsible for all materials checked out. We did have an adult with Alzheimer's who kept loosing her library card, we finally just kept her 5th or so one here for her when she came in. She never lost any books! We really don't have a policy either though. It's a good thing to do before the person in need comes in.

  • We do not have a separate procedure here, but we do deal with this, as we have a neuro-rehabilitation facility here in town. Generally 2-6 residents at a time come in with an aide. When clients fill out the application form, the aide usually provides his or her name and phone number as a contact for follow-up. To date, this has worked well for us

  • We don’t do anything special, except the aide can fill out the registration card if the individual is unable. We don’t require a signature, or anyone to be “held ultimately responsible”. We trust that as long as we have a current address we are ok. So far no problems. I don’t think we’ll do any different unless we see substantial losses from this segment of the population. We offer several programs that are geared to the disabled adults in our area, so we know the agency employees well, see them & their clients regularly, and they keep us current on any address changes.

  • We have quite a few mentally challenged patrons and one man with Alzheimer’s who have cards. They follow the same rules as everyone else except the aide helps with making sure they have the address verification (which may be something from the group home or facility where they reside) and also in making sure they get the materials back when due. The man with Alzheimer’s really enjoyed westerns and action films on DVD and it gave his mother-in-law who helped with his care a break once in a while. We find that our music CDs and movies are mostly what they want and they really appreciate them.

  • We give the card to the person and add a note that they are disabled so must depend on others to get their library materials back. We do not charge fines to these individuals. We do the same for homebound patrons. We have found that giving out institutional cards has been a disaster. The staff changes so you never have an up to date list as to who may use the card. The caretakers use the card for themselves and their family (especially if they are non-residents) Our materials then ends up missing and no one knows who is responsible for it. We have had a few cases that the caretaker has used the disabled persons card but at least in those cases we have been able to be reimbursed for our losses by the institution and they then know that they have a problem employee and can deal with it themselves.

  • We don't have them co- sign but yes we do get all contact information as to which service the patron uses (example - Lakes Region Community Services) for day care PLUS their home care provider and/or their guardian. Hope this helps.

  • I can't speak to the "legal" end of your query, but I can tell you how we handle this situation. In trying to give as much access as possible, when folks come in with a caregiver, as long as the person "wanting" the card fills our requirements to get a card (lives, works, goes to school or owns property in town,) we issue a card in their name, not the caregiver nor agency. Usually the same caregiver comes in repeatedly with the person who "owns" the card. We can tell (I guess we are lucky that we have the same folks staying in their jobs for the long term,) whether the materials are for the cardholder, or the caregiver. We also ask that the caregiver present the card AND have the cardholder with them. I guess in a large library setting it would be tougher to know your patrons, but we know our folks, and they often check out similar items over and over, (motorcycles, cooking books, picture books etc.) and often from the children's room. We have not done institutional cards because SOME people come and go from job to job, and might take the card, or it may be difficult to track who checked out which materials.