What do we mean by "equal access?" Your first thought might be only of physical accessibility to a library - can everyone get into the building? While this is indeed one aspect of equal access - an important one - access has other meanings too.
Article I of the Code of Ethics states:
We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
What does this mean to libraries? We organize our materials well so our patrons can easily find what they want - on a level that is appropriate for them, preschool through adult. We try to make as much information as possible available electronically so our users can access it at home or work, yet we honor the needs of those who are without access to electronic resources.
We provide a welcoming atmosphere where each person receives timely, accurate, balanced information and materials. While not everyone needs the same service, we establish policies and follow through with an equal level of service to all our customers, regardless of age, sex, background, income, education, or status in the community. The intent is that each of us gives every patron the same level of respect, attention, and courtesy. We don't, for example, give preference to city or county officials over other patrons, or treat homeless people with less respect than others. Children and their questions are given the same level of care that we give to adults.
When there are barriers that seem to make it difficult to give everyone equal service - for example, we can't speak the patron's language - it is our responsibility to find ways to overcome those barriers. Taking a class in a second language or arranging for a few "on call" people to help with language difficulties might be reasonable solutions. Likewise, if a library provides electronic books and other electronic resources to the community, public computers should be made available for those who have no other access.
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