Forbes Library Disability Advisory Board
4 November 2021
4:00 PM

This meeting was on zoom.


  • Ben Kalish, Reference Librarian
  • Molly Moss, Assistant Director
  • Brian Tabor, Borrower Services Supervisor/note taker
  • Anna Gancarz, Chicopee Public Library
  • MaryJo Stanley
  • Robert Baran
  • Dorothy Baker 


Website update

The library is working to update the WordPress theme used on forbeslibrary.org and accessibility is a priority. The library will share more information about this when the work is ready for testing. In the meantime folks are encouraged to share relevant ideas and feedback with Ben (bkalish@forbeslibrary.org).


Advisory board structure

Background: The Disability Advisory Board is informal with no official membership list and no designated chair. Though it has no official powers and takes no official actions, library management has always been involved and attentive to issues raised by the board.


Other models are possible and the library’s Racial and Social Justice Advisory Group illustrates one such possibility, with among other differences, an official membership list and co-chairs drawn from the library and the public.


Discussion: Anne likes the board’s loose structure and appreciates that library administration takes recommendations from the board seriously. No one present recommended a change, but MaryJo and Dorothy are concerned about the board’s low visibility.


The advisory board has a page (https://forbeslibrary.org/accessibility/disability-advisory-board/) on the library website that lists upcoming meetings, agenda and minutes and meetings are listed on the library’s events calendar.


Ideas for increasing the boards visibility might include:

  • Promoting it the library’s weekly events newsletter or Wowbrary, a weekly announcement of new materials in the library that the library also uses to highlight select library news.
  • Improved placement on the website.
  • Event listings in the local newspaper.
  • A letter in the local newspaper.
  • An event that would get folks from the advisory board interacting with the public, much like the downtown walk recently made by the City’s Disability Commission.


Action item: Dorothy offered to draft language that could be used to promote the board.

Picture Main Street

The Picture Main Street project extends from the intersection of Elm and West Streets on the west to the intersection of Market and Hawley Streets on the east and so does not include the road or sidewalks adjacent to the library. Accessibility concerns adjacent to the library are therefore not part of the Picture Main Street project but that does not mean they can’t be addressed. In addition to bringing accessibility concerns about the adjacent sidewalks to the advisory board, folks are also encouraged to contact their city councilors and the DPW.


Fragrances and chemical sensitivities

MaryJo is concerned that the fragrances we are exposed to have expanded tremendously and create a health hazard particularly for those with chemical sensitivities. Several attendees expressed concern about chemicals used by the library, particularly the use of air fresheners, as well as products brought into the library by the public.


The library no longer uses air fresheners in the bathrooms and the custodial staff considers chemical sensitivities when selecting products for use, avoiding added fragrances as much as possible. A future capital improvement will improve natural air flow in the bathrooms which will help as well.

Curb cuts

A new curb cut was made on the west side of the library near the beginning of the parking lot, allowing easier access to the lawn. Another lawn curb cut will be made opposite it to allow easier access from the sidewalk that work must wait for warmer weather.

Concluding announcements:

  • Anne wants folks to know that Bob is resuming the monthly accessibility lab at the Chicopee Public Library. Fusion, a combined screen reader and magnifier, has been installed on five computers.
  • Ben wants to remind everyone there is a budget for accessibility accommodations at the library, including for library programs and meetings.
  • Dorothy appreciates the captions for the meeting. Ben shared that Zoom’s automatic captioning system, called “Live Transcription” is available for all Zoom meetings but must be enabled by the host.


Adjourned 4:48pm