Concerns About Accessibility at Paley Library

As an ally for individuals with physical disabilities, I am deeply troubled by the lack of access at Paley Library. On a surface level Paley appears to be accessible–yes, there are elevators, yes, the library entrance has an electronic button for individuals with physical conditions. We mustn’t forget, however, the multitude of heavy doors within Paley. Using the ladies’ room requires pushing two heavy wooden doors in succession–a challenge for anyone, let alone a person with limited arm strength. The vestibule between the doors is scarcely wide enough to accommodate individuals with a loaded backpack, let alone someone in a wheelchair or with a walker. While it is understandable that renovating these bathrooms is a significant undertaking, there is no excuse for a world-premier university to have a library devoid of accessible bathrooms.

The fact that there are wheelchair-accessible stalls within the bathroom is irrelevant if people with physical disabilities cannot enter the restroom in the first place. Equally problematic are the East and West wings of the second and third floors; both are closed off by heavy doors which do not have an option for automatic opening. Please correct these issues to ensure that Paley Library is accessible for every member of our university community.

Thank you for sharing your concerns about accessibility problems you confronted in Paley Library. Part of the difficulty in maintaining a building of Paley’s age is keeping it compliant with accessibility standards, and we are clearly challenged to make our facility as accessible as possible – though as you point out the bathrooms are a place where we must do better.

Given the problem you encountered it appears we should be checking the pull weight on the doors in the bathrooms and the stack areas. We will contact Temple University Facilities to have them make sure these doors meet the prevailing legal standard for accessibility. If the doors are set to the correct standard pull they should be easier to open. We will make sure that is the case.

Please know that only entry doors need be equipped with automatic opening devices. Interior doors do need to be set for a certain maximum pull/push weight that meets the correct standards. We will definitely have this checked.

If you continue to encounter difficulty with the interior doors, please report it directly to personnel in the Library Administrative Office on the mezzanine level of Paley Library.


Sorry But Paley Library’s Roof Is Off Limits

How about building a geo/biodome on the roof of Paley Library. It would make a great study space – like an artificial jungle. While you’re at it, can you give students free coffee on Monday mornings?

Thanks for your creative suggestion for an improvement to Paley Library that would no doubt put our library on the map. How many university libraries have a biodome on the top of the building? Unfortunately, as much as we might like that study space, Temple University Facilities department might look less favorably on this type of project. This is not the first time we’ve received a suggestion or request involving students doing something on the roof of Paley, and the Facilities folks are pretty strict about access to the roof – as in they don’t allow it. For now we will do our best to make sure the roof is sealed tight. We don’t want any rain leaking in that might damage our books.

While we’d love to hand out free coffee to students as a great way to start the week, we need to be responsible stewards of the funds that we receive from the University. That means purchasing all the important resources that make Temple Libraries a great research collection. But we also understand the importance of freebies. Don’t worry. It’s coming. For the last several years, during finals, students are invited to come to Paley Library for late-night coffee and cookies. We’ll be offering it again this year during finals week. It’s just one of the ways Temple Libraries supports the Temple student community.

Book Wasn’t In the Catalog But It Was On the Shelf. What Happened?

I was searching for a book from home using the Libraries’ online catalog system – I connected to it through the Libraries website. According the information I got from my search of the catalog, the book I wanted was not available – there was no record for it. But the next day I was at the library looking for another book and low and behold, the book I was searching for – the one the catalog didn’t list at all – was the first book that I saw sitting on the shelf. How is it possible that the book wasn’t in the catalog yet was there on the shelf. Something’s wrong. Can you explain this?
The next issue, with the same book, is the call number. I believe the number is incorrect. It is numbered as a book for Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs when it is actually the information gathering portion of designing a building also called programming. I think you should correct the call number.

We are grateful that you brought your problems with this book to us, and doubly grateful because finding it required some extra work on your part.  The book did not, as you say, display in Diamond (our online catalog), because at some point in the process of being checked in, or checked out,  or moved from one location to another, or even because it went missing for a while, the record for the book was removed from public view.  We are pleased to have been able to restore the information about the book to you and others who might need it.

As for the shelf number of the book: here at Temple we use Library of Congress classification, which divides subjects and genres more or less arbitrarily into an A-Z range.  The NA range is for architecture and contains a large number of topical and geographic subdivisions.  Which subdivision a book is placed in is based largely on a correspondence with the Library of Congress Subject Heading that is chosen by the cataloger.  In this case the cataloger was actually at the Library of Congress, and chose the topic—and sub-topic  “Architectural design–Data processing,” apparently on the basis of the title word “programming.”  As you mention, this involves a misunderstanding of what “programming” means to architects and other design professionals, and so the book wound up in the wrong classification. It’s worthwhile to help people looking for books on your topic by reclassifying the book.

That said, cataloging is a highly cooperative enterprise involving the work of professionals all over the U.S. The Library of Congress itself is considered the “gold standard” for cataloging.  For this reason, Library of Congress cataloging is merely given a low-level quality control check here at Temple, along with a  little physical processing.  We kept the original classification, as did the other 250 or so libraries that I can find that have the book.  In our field there is something of an understanding that all libraries that hold a book keep the original classification unless there’s some very good reason to make a change.  So when you’re through with the book, we’re going to take another look at it, just to be on the safe side.  In the end we will most likely follow your advice.


Make it Easier to Find My Subject Specialist

It’s great to know we have librarians who serve as subject specialists for the different disciplines. Many students and faculty could take advantage of their research expertise. However, it is not easy to find out who these librarians are. Can you make a link to the subject specialists more prominent on your website – even putting it on the home page?

Glad to hear you plan to take advantage of our subject specialists. They are a great resource for the Temple Community. Right now the fastest way to get to the list is to click on the ASK-A-LIBRARIAN link on the home page. It’s on the next page. You can also bookmark the subject specialist page:

Thanks for your suggestion. We will give it some thought and see we might do a better job of publicizing the specialists. You may know we do highlight the specialists on the home page by rotating their photos. If you have other ideas, share it in a comment.

How About A Sign That Lets Me Know How To Get Help Finding A Book

Why aren’t there any signs upstairs letting people know they can go to that office on the second floor if they are having trouble finding a book? I went all the way down to the reference desk, who then sent me to the circulation desk. The circulation desk let me know that there was a stacks office so if I ever have trouble locating something there are people up there who can actually help me look for it. I went to the stacks office and was able to get help finding the book I needed. It would have been nice to know this while I was still upstairs instead of having to run all over the place.

We’re sorry to hear you got the old library run-around, being sent from one desk to another until you finally find the person who can help you. Believe me, that frustrates us as well because we know when it happens you are having a lousy library experience – and our goal is to make sure you have a great library experience. So yes, we failed. The librarian at the reference desk could have told you about the stacks office – and even called the stacks office to see if there was someone there to help you. Sending you to the circulation desk just added another layer to your quest for the book.

The reason we don’t have signs promoting the stacks office is because…well, where would we put that sign? In the stacks? Where? How many would we need? You could well imagine we’d need to have signs all over the stacks if it read “Can’t find the book you came here for? Go to the stacks office on the second floor?” And when it comes to signs, most people don’t read them. So what do we do to try to give you the help you need. Two things. First, we have service phones on the east and west sides of the upper levels. They are located in the vicinity of the stairwell doors. The phones offer a direct call to the reference or circulation desk. That way you can ask your question without having to run all the way to the actual desk. The location of the service phones is also noted on the floor maps we have in every stairwell in the Paley Library. Second, we have student workers in the stacks shelving books and they can help you too. You can spot them easily because they were bright red vests that say “library staff”. So next time you can’t find a book – take a look around for one of our student workers.

We hope this information will save you time the next time you can’t find that book.

Paley Library Needs Much Better Wi-Fi Service

The wi-fi service at the library is very bad.  There are only certain areas within the library where I can get connected to the internet.  I really want to start using the library to start studying now, especially because the tech center is full always packed with people, who never really study and just socialize.  But it’s difficult to do so because of the difficulty in connected to wi-fi.  If it helps, I have  mac book pro, running on Mac OSX. Thanks for reading!

Thank you for writing to share your concerns about the wi-fi connectivity in Paley Library. We are aware that it can be a challenge to get a good connection, consistently, throughout Paley. Please keep in mind that when this building was constructed in 1963 no one could have imagined we’d need wireless connectivity. The very nature of this building, with all the concrete, pillars, bookstacks, etc. make it very difficult to get good wi-fi coverage throughout the facility. We’ve had several wireless audits by Temple’s telecommunications department and it would be extremely expensive to outfit the building with the necessary equipment to improve the wi-fi everywhere.

That said, we plan to continue to work with Computer Services and Network Services to look for ways to improve the wi-fi in Paley. We see many students with laptops who are already on the wireless network, and we know this is extremely important to our student and faculty community. For now you have the right idea. Find a location in the library that you know has stable wireless, and make that your study space. You might try the Media Services area on the lower level of Paley if you’ve not studied there before. Thanks again for submitting this suggestion.

How About Adding A Decibel Meter at Paley Library

I’d like to see a decibel meter installed on the first floor of Paley. When it goes above a certain level (Craig LaBan, Inquirer Restaurant Critic in his reviews lists “Ideal is 75 decibels or less”) staff should take action calming groups down. 

There’s no question that it can get loud on the first floor of Paley Library – but that’s mostly true only of the west side where all the computers are located. Just as with any area where you have computers, students will gather to socialize and then it can get loud. We have looked into getting one of the meters you suggest. They actually have one in the TECH Center. Given the expense of this device we felt that it would not be the best use of our funding allocation.

If you believe it is too loud in this area here are some suggestions:

  1. Find a quieter area of the library. We have designated quiet zones throughout the Paley Library. For example, the west side of the second floor. It is also quite quiet in the Media Services area on the lower level.
  2. If you need to work in the computer area on the first floor and a group of students is really loud, go to the service desk and report it to someone at the desk. Our service desk staff will ask students to tone it down, but we can’t expect this area to be always be 75 decibels or less.
  3. Did you try to check out the flex study area on the first floor in the computer area. We have some sound-dampening walls that you can fold out to make an on-the-fly study space. There are some work tables there. You may find this is a slightly quieter space to do your work.

We hope these tips are helpful to you. Thanks for sharing this suggestion.


Please Silence All Computers

Can you disable the volumes on the computers, so that it can only be audible through headphones. Don’t disable it entirely, but please make sure the computers can’t play any sound loudly without the use of headphones. 

Thanks for sharing what many of us consider an annoyance when we are trying to study with some quiet. It is our policy that headphones should always be used when listening to media of any type on our library computers. We even loan headphones to those who don’t have a pair (go to our Media Services Department).

According to the Library Systems Office, if a computer is ordered without an internal speaker, the computer will not be capable of producing any sound. We will investigate to determine if it is possible to customize the sound card to allow for sound through the headphone jack while disabling the speaker. It may be possible but we will have to experiment.

In the meantime, if a patron is making noise that is disturbing your study, if you do not feel comfortable asking the person to use headphones or stop the noise, go to a service desk and ask a member of the library staff to speak to the person making the noise. You other option is to study in one of our multiple quiet zones. If you need a computer, you can borrow a laptop from our circulation desk and take it to any quiet zone.

Thank you for sharing your suggestion with us.

Does Paley Library Actually Get Cleaned?

How often does housekeeping clean the guest computer area? The desktops are dirty and people don’t throw their trash away when they leave.

 Although this question is more specific to the “guest computer area” in Tuttleman opposite the Paley Circulation/Reserve Desk, it is worthwhile to share some general information about the frequency of housekeeping services for Paley Library. Although at peak times of operation it may seem like Paley isn’t being cleaned regularly, the answer to the question is YES. Paley Library, like most Temple buildings, has a regular, daily cleaning schedule. A crew is assigned to clean up the Library every evening, even on the weekends. This is true of Tuttleman as well.

During the day hours, especially on the weekends, the degree of housekeeping service is much more limited. For one thing, it would be extremely difficult to clean the furniture surfaces, floors, empty trash, etc. when the library can be quite packed with people using the resources. There are skeleton crews that work their way through different buildings to tackle any challenging mess. So depending on what time you arrive at the library, the degree of traffic in the building that day, and yes – whether the people who use the library make an effort to remove their trash – can impact on the state of cleanliness you will discover.

Unfortunately, while we wish every person using our Libraries would remember to dispose of their trash in the right place, you are likely to encounter a mess left by someone else from timt to time. Given the amount of mess created in Paley every day, we really appreciate the great job our housekeeing staff does to keep things clean here.