Lamar Soutter Library
Health Sciences and Medical Librarianship
Background : The Lamar Soutter Library serves the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Existing facilities in the library include 6 single use restrooms spread out over 3 floors, with 2 on each floor (1 for men, 1 for women). The library averages 500 visitors a day, and our 1st floor area is the most highly trafficked. Admission trends indicate that class sizes are increasing, and the number of women students is trending up; we decided to look at ways to increase the number of facilities that could be used by anyone regardless of gender by making some of the restrooms gender neutral.
Description : Library management were early and necessary champions of this project, taking the idea to school administration and getting approval for changes and expenditures. We also consulted the Diversity and Inclusion Office and the LGBTQ Resource group lent support and offered opinions on signage choice and goals for implementation. The MLA LGBTQIA SIG also offered information on how their libraries managed this transition, providing examples of signage that conveyed the message that the restroom was for anyone without also enforcing the gender binary. The building manager led discussions on what was possible with the existing space and building codes, and worked with us to preserve handicap access.
Conclusion : While our renovation is not complete at this time, when it is we will assess user satisfaction with the space in general, as well as whether there is an increase in how many users we average daily. Another measure of success would be whether other areas of the school follow suit and offer gender neutral restrooms. We would also be interested in converting the remaining 4 restrooms in the library. We hope to create an environment that is flexible and welcoming, and accommodates all of our users.
gender neutral restroom, renovation, library, all gender restroom
Rights and Permissions
Copyright 2019 The Author(s)
DOI of Published Version
Medical Library Association Annual Meeting 2019, "Elevate"