Forbes Library Accessibility Advisory Board Minutes
Date 25 January 2023
Time 3PM


  • Mary Biddle, Library Staff
  • Lisa Downin, Library Director
  • Ben Kalish, Library Staff
  • Molly Moss, Assistant Director
  • Dorothy Baker
  • Barbara Black
  • Mary Jo Stanley


A stipend is available for meeting attendees to cover the cost of missed work, travel to the meeting, childcare, etc.

Public Comment

Mary Jo Stanley: Would like more hybrid programming that allows one to review a recording with captions after the fact

Dorothy Baker: Cece Ducette will speak at Forbes March 21, 2023 from 5pm-7pm on wireless radiation.

Announcements / updates

Lisa Downing, library director, spoke about the bathroom accessibility grant. She is hopeful that work will begin soon, though some portions of the project still require additional funding. The project will:

  1. Add automatic push buttons on one bathroom per floor, for a total of four bathrooms
  2. Remove the threshold lip that is a problem for people with mobility concerns
  3. Improve ventilation

Ben provided an update on analysis of the free-text responses to the community survey. While the analysis is not yet complete, some trends have emerged which are relevant to this groups work:

  1. Twenty responses mention accessibility specifically. This puts accessibility among the top twenty concerns from the survey.
  2. With regard to programming, many folks have asked for either in-person or virtual events, suggesting a need for more hybrid programming.

Ben also mentioned that the library has a branding consultant working with the strategic planning committee and that he is making sure that accessibility is concerned as part of the discussion.

Continued Discussion of Board Structure

In order to create our own charge and structure we could use some of the wording from the draft
Racial & Social Justice Advisory Committee Charge & Structure
and from the press release we released in October.

Lisa will attempt to recruit one of the trustees to serve on the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Ben will send out draft language on the mailing list. Feedback from everyone would be much appreciated.

Promotion of the Board

We sent the press release (many thanks to Dorothy Baker for her help with the copy!) in early October. Recipients included the The Conz Street Chronicle, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Reminder, and The Republican. We are not sure if it saw print in any of these publications, however. In addition, Ben posted the press release to the Northampton Neighbors email list.

Lisa will follow up with the Conz St Chronicle and suggested that Northampton Neighbors would be happy to run something for us in one of their official emails.

Other Business

Hybrid Programming in the Community Room?

Dorothy Baker asked about the possibility of having Cece Ducette’s program on safe technology, which will be in the Community Room, as a hybrid program. So far the library has only run hybrid programs for small discussions, using a piece of equipment called the Meeting Owl (the same equipment used for the Accessibility Advisory Board meetings). This equipment works best in small rooms and is designed for hybrid meetings. The library plans to have equipment designed for lecture style programs installed in the Coolidge Museum, but there have been many delays and it is not yet ready. In the meantime, and for any programs in the Community Room, Ben suggested that someone might stream the program from a mobile device or streaming capable camera.

Community Room Acoustics

Mary Jo Stanley asked about the acoustics in the Community Room, noting that even when she had better hearing, it was difficult to hear anything presented in the Community Room due to the difficult acoustics.

Lisa mentioned an acoustics company recently did a room-by-room analysis of the library, including the Community Room. The results of their report may inform future improvements.

Ben mentioned the improved sound system, including the assistive listening system, and acoustic improvements made during a past renovation, but knows that there is much ambient noise and still room for improvement.

Mary Jo mentioned that some people have just stopped attending meetings in the Community Room because of the difficulty in understanding what is being said.

Reminder: Accommodations Available

Ben took the opportunity to remind folks that we are happy to provide accommodations: if people ask we can often help: examples might include Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), note taking on white boards, printed slides or transcriptions, interpreters, etc. For some of these services, such as CART, advanced notice is important as it can be hard to find folks with the needed skills on short notice.

Meeting Adjourned

The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:45 PM.