Carli Spina’s Creating Inclusive Libraries by Applying Universal Design is a superb addition to the body of literature supporting inclusive design to library infrastructures and services. The book provides a clear and concise overview of the basic concepts of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning based on foundational literature in these areas, followed by clear and concrete example that illustrate the why, the what, and the how for inclusive practice and the practicality. Spina encourages library decision-makers to consider and appreciate the natural difference between users and to seek user input early in the planning process, reminding the reader that it is much more expensive and worrisome to retrofit than it is to design well from the start.
The book would be an excellent choice for either an undergraduate and graduate foundational textbook/how-to guide for courses on Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. It is well-written and presents a solid review of core relevant literature in a very accessible fashion, while also shaping best practice. Spina couches the discussion on inclusion and anti-discriminatory design to avoid marginalizing users. I appreciate this perspective--that when we build structures and services that do not meet the needs of our users universally, we are disablingthem from being able to enjoy full inclusion.
The first half of the book (Chapters 1-7) focuses squarely on Universal Design, including why Universal Design is important, specifics of how to incorporate Universal Design in library settings (using concrete examples to underscore its importance), and then a series of case studies (Chapter 6) followed by a comprehensive checklist for applying Universal Design in library settings (Chapter 7). This checklist alone is incredibly valuable for aiding libraries as they make decisions about library projects with architects and other partners. The checklist covers specific areas of concern, including entrances, fixtures, lighting, furniture, signage, but also includes questions that will help when designing services and programming, developing the collection, and even hiring and professional development.
Chapters 8-13 repeat the same structure but with a focus on Universal Design for Learning, doubling the value of this book. She clearly explains the concepts of multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression and her case studies and checklist guide the reader through decision-making that ‘considers factors far beyond a user’s abilities’.— Kim M. Thompson, PhD, professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs, School of Information Science, College of Information and Communication, University of South Carolina
Spina’s book should be required reading for all those involved with building a library, doing a renovation, or just changing an existing workspace. Cynical readers may suggest that of course one wants to be inclusive—that is what the ADA is all about—and Spina addresses this. But she goes further both intellectually and with practical examples. This reviewer was particularly impressed by the discussion of the aspirational nature of universal design. Spina offers criticism of universal design, and she does a good job with examples, pointing out that much can be learned from failed attempts. The volume is nicely organized: it comprises 14 chapters, each with notes and sources. The chapters are arranged logically but all could stand alone. Case studies for both design and learning are appropriate and welcome, showing what others tried and what worked and what did not. A perfect tool for an architect at the beginning of a project, this is an insightful and comforting book. Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.— Choice Reviews
Carli Spina’s admirably readable Creating inclusive libraries by applying universal design provides librarians with a practical, theoretically grounded introduction to Universal Design (UD) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This book guides librarians in understanding and applying UD and UDL principles to make their products, spaces, and services more inclusive and welcoming....As a title in the LITA guide series, this book imparts practical guidance in an easy to read format. It provides the reader with a strong grounding in the concepts and principles, practical advice and checklists in the use and application of UD and UDL. Though a slim book, there is a lot of content for the cost. I would recommend it for libraries or librarians wanting to make their services (particularly instruction) and spaces more accessible and welcoming to a wide diversity of individuals.— Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association