ASSOCIATES (2005, November, v. 12, no. 2) -

*Poor Design Equals Poor Health?*



Jim Jackson, University of Exeter
Lydia Collins-Kern California State University

Having worked in a library of one sort or another for most of our working lives, we have seen a variety of Issue/Circulation/Access Services Desks. These have varied from the carefully designed counter which library staff and patrons’ liked, to those that have been designed to look good but are practically unusable for library staff and patrons alike.

What Lydia Collins-Kern and I would like to do is some research on the effects of these variations of work areas and describe/discuss how bad design affects those of us who work in the library environments.

If one were to use a standard search engine to locate information for the effects of repetitive strain injuries for library staff, very few results would be found. We would like to take a pro-active approach in changing this with the help of Associates readers input to the following questionnaire. By completing and returning this questionnaire to us, we will compile the answers for a future edition of Associates where we will try to discover what effects us, how it affects us and what if any common solutions can be found to combat the problems.

Any information sent in reply to this questionnaire will be considered confidential and while the information will be used to compile a report no personal details will be used or released to anyone. To assist with the statistics please indicate which country you are in, and which type of institution you work in.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

The survey has ended. Thank you for your interest. If you would like to contact the author, write to: The results will be published in the July 2006 issue of Associates.

The Electronic Library Support Staff Journal

*Poor Design Equals Poor Health?*
Jim Jackson / University of Exeter
Lydia Collins / California State University, Stanislaus

User Information

E-mail address:
Type of Library *
Country *


Section 1- Issue Desk/Circulation Desk/Access Services Desk

Q1. How large is your working area from front to back? (i.e., its width).
Please indicate unit of measurement used (i.e., feet or meters, etc.)

Q2. Do you have to stretch across this area to collect books from patrons?
Yes   No  

Q3. If YES, does this cause you any muscle ache or pain?
Yes   No  

Q4. Can you please describe the location of any muscle aches or pain? (e.g., shoulder, back wrist, etc.)

Q5. Does your Issue/Circulation desk have a raised work surface to put books on for Issue or Return or is it a flat desk?
Raised work surface   Flat Desk   Other

Q6. Do you use a hand held bar code scanner?
Hand held   Fixed position  

Q7. Does using the bar code scanner cause you any ( RSI ) repetitive strain problems?
Yes   No  

Q8. If YES how do you cope with these problems? Do you use painkiller medication,
topically applied gel, exercise, or wear a splint? Please comment:

Q9. If NO have you taken any preventative measures to avoid these problems?

Q10. Does your Library have any Health and Safety measures in place to deal with problems
that might arise from repetitive use of equipment. Such as training in manual handing or height adjustable chairs, etc.?

Yes   No  

Q11. If YES please give examples.

Q12. Do you sit down to issue/return books or stand up?
Sit   Stand  

Q13. Have you a choice of position?
Yes   No  

Q14. Do you have to use a computer mouse for most of your computer work?
Yes   No  

Q15. Do you have the option to use a keyboard instead?
Yes   No  

Q16. If YES to Q14. or Q15.and this causes you muscle strain problems please give details:

Section 2- Work Environment

Q17. Do you work in a air conditioned building?
Yes   No  

Q18. Are there any reported problems with the air-conditioned building where you work?
Yes   No   Don't Know  

Q19. If YES please describe:

Q20. Has your building ever been classed as having 'Sick Building Syndrome'?
Yes   No   Don't Know  

Q21. If YES what action if any, was taken to correct this problem?

Q22. Some eye conditions are made worse by dry air in air conditioned areas,
such as public buildings and shopping malls, e.g. contact lens problems. Does this happen in your building?

Yes   No   Don't Know  

Q23. If YES what action, if any has been taken to improve the air quality?

Q24. The intensity of lighting can affect both library staff and patrons;
they are often referred to as Lux levels. Are there any regular measurements taken of lighting levels?

Yes   No   Don't Know  

Q25. If YES how often are measurements taken and what happens to the results?

Q26. Is smoking allowed in any part of your building?
Yes   No  

Q27. If YES is this restricted to certain areas?
Yes   No  

Q28. If YES, please describe the restricted areas:

Q29. Please add any additional comments:

Survey designed by Albert Morita/UCR

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