CBS public library moving toward greater accessibility and inclusion

The CBS public library provides accessible reading services in a modern space and soon there will be more additions to its non-English collection.

Ariyana Gomes

Andrew Lockhart, in black shirt and grey suit stands in front of CBS library shelves. He has shelves with books in the background and ceiling lights to his top.
Andrew Lockhart, eastern division manager at NL Public Libraries, welcomes readers to the new modern setting at the CBS Public Library. He says the library design leaves room for readers to relax. Ariyana Gomes/Kicker

On April 6, the Conception Bay South public library celebrated its grand opening with more accessibility and inclusiveness in learning. 

Although the library had already opened its doors in January, the all-day event on Thursday brought a host of activities for children and adults.

This new, modern library has made efforts to create an environment that welcomes all readers, regardless of their age, background or abilities.

For many, the library can be a place of solace, a place where one can go to learn, grow and connect with others.

Andrew Lockhart, Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries eastern division manager, says it is more than just a place to check out books. 

“Our library is a space where people can exist and be comfortable, rather than just pick up a book and leave,” he said.

As people enter the library, the one-storeyed space can give them ample room to move around freely, including in wheelchairs.

Lockhart says the reconstruction of this library meant more opportunity for adding tools to enhance accessibility and learning experiences for individuals.

Accessible design

The CBS public library will offer large-print books for readers with visual impairments, as well as tinted-page books for people with dyslexia.

Also, he says there are desks and chairs specifically for people with mobility constraints. They are two feet in height and can be adjusted according to the user’s height and needs.

“But that’s not all,” he said. “We will soon get high-visibility, black-on-yellow, large accessible keyboards and software to make reading more accessible and fun for users.”

The library has also partnered with the Centre for Equitable Library Access, a public library service for Canadians with print disabilities, to provide an opportunity for patrons to access a wide range of resources, including accessible books and audiobooks. 

For some people, the library is a sanctuary, a place where they can escape the pressures of the outside world and find comfort within its walls. 

And having a place that caters to the needs of different individuals creates hope for readers as well.

“…from creating a space like this, you lose nothing and kind of gain everything.”

Andrew Lockhart

Even though the CBS public library is away from the St. John’s city-centre, where most immigrants on the northeast Avalon live, demand for non-English books remain consistent there.

Welcoming newcomers

Sarah Bartlett, a regional librarian with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, is in charge of the multilingual collection. 

She said a range of books in Ukrainian language be in the shelves soon, as will books in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and other languages.

The library will also have a French-language specialist to help facilitate the library’s bilingual programming system.

“We are trying to create a fun experience for our readers from all backgrounds, and to find a book in the language you speak can feel welcoming,” said Bartlett.

She also says to help people access books from the comfort of their own home, the library is promoting its user-friendly application called Libby App for readers interested in their digital resources. 

The application is free to download, and it provides translations to over 400 different languages with any suitable font size.

Lockhart says books can often be a place of refuge and building a modern space that is accessible and inclusive will bring the community together.

“. . . (F)rom creating a space like this, you lose nothing and kind of gain everything.”

About Ariyana Gomes 21 Articles
Ariyana Gomes is an assistant editor and multimedia reporter for Kicker. She enjoys hard news; covering stories that matter to local residents. Got a news tip? Email her-

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