University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
Library work increasingly involves extended use of computers, and library staff and administrators are becoming aware of the hazards to the hands and arms from overuse of keyboards and incorrect posture. Such injuries are collectively referred to as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and include ailments such as carpel tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, epicondylitis, tenosynovitis, ganglionic cyst and Raynaud’s syndrome [Marshall, 1996]. Each is potentially serious and, according to a recent New York Times article, it is becoming ever more common for people to leave computer-dependent careers as a result of RSI [Brody, 1992]. Although older workers seem particularly susceptible, RSI can occur even in young physically fit individuals. The library literature shows an awaking to the issue with significant articles recently being published in Computers in Libraries , Library Resources and Technical Services , and College & Research Libraries News [Thornton, 1995; Summer, 1996; Switzer, 1995].
The purpose of this article is to relate how the University of Colorado reacted to an outbreak of RSI in its circulation department. The focus will be on the design of an ergonomic circulation desk that was installed in early 1996 at a total cost of approximately $30,000.