Rothermere American Institute Page 2



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The library enquiry desk functions as reception when the building is open.   This is at standard height, and is fitted with a hearing loop.   You can access the reception desk by going through the double glass doors on the left hand side of the building foyer area.  Pass through the security gates and turn to your right to get to the desk.

The main building foyer contains a table and armchairs, and functions as a waiting area for visitors, as well as a registration space for events.

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There are a variety of staircases in the building.  The main building staircase has a handrail on the left hand side (ascending) and contrasting visual and tactile nosings.   There is a gap between the right hand edge of the stairs and the glass partition wall which is not indicated, so please take care!  The stairs between the levels of the library are similar in construction, but there is a handrail on both sides.   

The fire escape staircase which connects the ground and lower ground floors (in the top right hand corner of the library as you exit the lift), has contrasting nosings and a handrail both sides. 

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Doors to the offices and seminar rooms on the lower ground floor have no vision panels, and access to the kitchen is through a sliding door, also with no vision panel.  The door to the library meeting room on the ground floor has no vision panel, but the glass wall of the meeting room means that it is possible to see inside.   The special needs study room in the library is accessed through a door with a long vision panel.   Also in the library, the door which separates the library corridor from the reading area in the mezzanine is fully glass, although there are manifestations.   Gates to the individual library carrels are less than a metre high, and very light.

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Reading Rooms

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The Vere Harmsworth library is spread over three floors and a mezzanine (these are marked G, 1, M and 2 on the lift).  

G - The lowest level of the library is accessed from the ground floor through the double doors on the left hand side of the main foyer area.  This contains some stacks and communal pc workstations.  The chairs are moveable, and although there are no height adjustable desks, most wheelchairs will fit underneath.

1-      On the first floor exit the lift and walk along the gallery to get to the reading room.   This has desks with moveable chairs and lamps, but no computers.

M- The mezzanine level contains carrels and stacks.   Some of the individual carrels are allocated to particular research and postgraduate students, although others are available for general use when no postgraduates need them.  These have small gates which are easy to open, although space inside is limited.  The aisles on the mezzanine area are reasonably wide, although please watch out for kickstools and book trolleys.  You may need to start walking into the aisle between the stacks to trigger the lighting.

2 – The second floor of the library contains more stacks and the quiet study area, as well as the special needs study room.  Again, you might need to start walking between the stacks in order to trigger the lighting.   The quiet study area is on the far side of the stacks, nearest to the large window.  The desks here are not very wide, but they should be a comfortable height for most wheelchair users.  Space behind the desks may be limited due to concrete pillars.

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seminar room

Seminar Rooms

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The main seminar space in the building is opposite the common room area on the lower ground floor.  The seminar area is one large room which can be divided to form up to three separate seminar spaces.   Doors to these rooms will be propped open during an event, or at the start and end of a seminar.  Furniture is moveable so event organisers can choose the setup which is most suited to them.  The tables provided should be high enough to comfortably fit most wheelchairs.

The meeting room in the library has a central table with moveable chairs, and an extra table against the wall.  If you have a larger wheelchair or scooter, you may find it a bit too narrow to complete a whole circuit of the room!  There is no hearing support system available in this room. 


Accessible Computers

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There are accessible computers on the ground floor of the library. These are at desks which should be a comfortable height for most wheelchair users, but are not adjustable.  The chairs are moveable, and each computer has a corresponding desk lamp. 

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common room

Common Rooms

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The common seating area is on the lower ground floor opposite the main seminar room.  This contains moveable tables and chairs, as well as some armchairs.  The acoustic in the common room is quite noisy due to hard surfaces, and this is true of many of the lower ground spaces.  French doors lead out onto a small patio area, but the main garden space is only accessible via. steps with no handrail.  At the left hand end of the common room is a staff kitchenette, which is accessed through a sliding door.  This is quite tricky to manage, especially for wheelchair users or those with reduced manual dexterity.  The counter in the kitchen area has no lowered section, and the space itself is quite small – feel free to ask a colleague to make you a cup of tea or coffee!

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adapted furniture

Specialist equipment

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There is no specialist equipment available, but there is a ‘special needs study room’ on the second floor of the library.  This contains a desk with desk lamp and movable chair.  The room is large, so there is enough room to park a wheelchair or scooter and transfer if preferred.

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At a glance

On-site disabled parking spaces 1
Parking nearby (within 200m) Pay and Display
Main entrance Level
Door entry Manual
Direct contact to reception No
Number of floors 4
Accessible toilets 2
Lift to all floors Yes
Hearing support system Yes