Bob Rawlinson has lived in St John’s Wood for over 50 years and visits the library regularly. Until this month he had never explored the lower ground floor, which is where all the adult non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines and the adult computers are located (originally a store room, the space was refurbished and opened to the public in August 2008).
So, there is a lot down there that he was missing out on! There is a lift, but it is a basic platform lift and as a wheelchair user Bob preferred to check the non-fiction returns on the upstairs trolley than have the bother of going down to check all the shelves. As for the computers, he would have liked to have a go, but the lift really put him off.
During the Paralympics, we got a reminder email about Go On Gold, a national campaign to raise awareness about the barriers facing disabled people in accessing computers. As he is our most regular wheelchair-bound customer, I asked Bob if he would like to learn about computers. I admit that I was surprised when he said ‘Yes, when should I come?!’
He is becoming increasingly independent when using the computer, having set up an email account and explored online newspapers. He’s also enjoying having access to a much wider range of books and materials on the lower ground floor shelves.
The next challenge for Bob is to discover what’s possible online that he may not even have imagined. He has committed to coming every week so library staff will continue to introduce him to a wide range of online activities and resources and seeing what fires his imagination. The sky’s the limit!