Assistance for People with Disabilities

The University of Iowa Libraries affirms its commitment to provide all members of the University community with access to library information resources and services. Wherever possible, UI Libraries’ staff will remove barriers that prevent equitable access for persons with disabilities.

Building Accessibility Information

View detailed building accessibility information for the Main Library and Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, including information on accessible parking and building entrances.  Similar information is available for all campus library locations.  Staff are available in each library location to provide information and assistance as needed.

Locating Resources

Library staff will assist users when their disabilities prevent them from utilizing the library catalog, online databases, and other library resources.  Assistance is available inside the library, as well as by phone, e-mail, and online chat.

  • In the Main Library, the Service Desk is located in the middle of the 1st floor.  In the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, assistance is provided at the combined Circulation/Reserve & Information/Reference Desks located near 3rd floor or ground level south entrance. For assistance also at the Art Library, the Pomerantz Business Library, Sciences Library, Lichtenberger Engineering Library, Main Music Library resources room, go to Campus Libraries.
  • For general assistance with searching the catalog or other databases, contact staff at the Main Library Service Desk by phone at (319) 335-5299 or send email to lib-ref@uiowa.edu.
  • Online chat is available through a web browser.
  • For more information on contacting the Libraries, see Ask a Librarian.
  • These services are available during Main Library Service Desk hours.
  • Users requiring assistance in a complex or extensive search may wish to schedule a Research Consultation.
  • Personal Librarian Program for students with disabilities (pdf)

Retrieving Materials

Users with disabilities may request staff assistance in retrieving materials at any library service desk.

  • During normal business hours, staff at Main Library Circulation Department will retrieve five or fewer items on demand.
  • Under most circumstances any number of Main Library books or journals can be retrieved within 24 hours if Main Circulation is provided a list of call numbers or journal titles and volume information and at least 24 hours notice.
  • In addition, the library offers a number of campus Delivery Services. Home delivery is available for users with physical disabilities that prevent them from coming to campus.  To register for home delivery, contact the Main Library Interlibrary Loan Department by sending an e-mail to lib-ill@uiowa.edu.
  • Users with visual impairments or other print disabilities may wish to request digital delivery.

Renewing Long-Term Materials

Users with disabilities may request staff assistance in renewing materials.

Returning Materials

Users with disabilities may request staff assistance in returning materials.

Digital Delivery

Users with print disabilities may request through the Libraries, printed materials in an accessible electronic format that are supplemental to required readings coursework or research.  Student Disability Services provides accessible texts needed for UI coursework.

To be eligible for this service, students must be registered with Student Disability Services. Contact Student Disability Services to apply for accommodations.  Faculty and staff should work with their human resources representative in consultation with Faculty and Staff Disability Services (FSDS).  Contact FSDS for more information.

After eligibility is confirmed, students should create an account in the Interlibrary Loan software and should specify “Delivery for Print Disability” as the pickup library location.  Repeat users can select “Change User Information” to update their pickup library.  The Interlibrary Loan/Delivery Services department routinely provides clean PDFs of journal articles and book chapters through their services.  These are requested and delivered through the Interlibrary Loan software and available for 28 days from posting.  By specifying “Delivery for Print Disability”, all PDFs provided will be reformatted by library staff.  The process of reformatting materials may take up to four weeks, longer if large quantities are requested and during peak times.  In general, library staff will scan all printed pages, process any non-graphical text using Adobe Acrobat’s built-in text recognition and provide the resulting PDF.  Please contact Interlibrary Loan staff if you require other arrangements.

  • Articles or Book Chapters for personal research or to assist with coursework: An accessible PDF can be requested through the Interlibrary Loan   PDFs are delivered to a personal ICON site.
  • Books or Journals for personal research or to assist with coursework:
    An accessible PDF can be requested through the Interlibrary Loan   PDFs are delivered to a personal ICON site.
  • Articles and Book Chapters posted in ICON by the instructor.
    • Instructor:  If you have a PDF that is not accessible, you can request a clean PDF through Interlibrary Loan.  ITS staff can provide training on reformatting a PDF to make it accessible and they also provide online documentation and instructions.
    • Student:  Please contact your instructor to let them know the materials they have posted are not accessible.  They should be able to work with SDS or the Libraries to rectify.  Interlibrary Loan can also be used to request a clean PDF of the material on an individual basis.
  • Section 121 of the U.S. Copyright Act governs reproduction of copyrighted works for users with print disabilities.  Further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specialized format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities is not permitted under Section 121.
  • NOTE: ICON, InfoHawk+, and the Interlibrary Loan system all purportedly meet Section 508 standards for web accessibility.  However, each of these user interfaces is written on top of a commercial product, and each has its own idiosyncrasies.  Users with disabilities who encounter any technical barriers are encouraged to contact Main Library Circulation Services by phone at (319) 335-6077 or send email to lib-res@uiowa.edu and every effort will be made to resolve the technical issue or to provide an alternative form of delivery.

Audio Transcription

The University of Iowa Libraries owns older media materials that are not captioned.  If an accessible copy is needed, please contact Amy Paulus.  The Libraries will need 5-14 days to provide a copy of the VHS, DVD, or other media material that contains captions.

Assistive Technology Computers and Equipment

Wheelchair-accessible computers are available in all library locations.  Assistive technology is provided by Information Technology Services and is available on library public workstations and campus ITCs. See the ITS web site for more information on assistive technology tools across campus.

The Main Library provides access to a Visual Image Enhancer that can be used to enlarge text.  To make arrangements to use this equipment, please contact the Main Library Circulation Department during their normal business hours, call 319-335-6077, or email lib-maincirc@uiowa.edu.

Study Rooms

The Main Library has individual study rooms and other designated quiet space.  Please see the Main Library Study Spaces and Locker Information website for more details.

Additional Information

If you have any questions that are not addressed here, contact Janalyn Moss, Reference and Library Instruction, by phone at (319) 335-5698, or by email at janalyn-moss@uiowa.edu.

Other University of Iowa Resources