Mapping Inclusive Services – Using Experiential Information to Identify Barriers to Access and Inclusion

State Library Victoria’s vision is to be a Library for all. At the heart of the Library’s vision is ensuring that physical and digital spaces are welcoming, inclusive and safe spaces for all people. However, there is very little customer experience data on the way people with disability or disadvantage experience cultural or library spaces.

The Mapping Inclusive services project’s aim was to build organisational knowledge and gather experiential data from people with lived experience to identify barriers to access and inclusion. Empathy only takes you so far. Access and inclusion is experiential – it rests in how we feel and respond to situations and environments. During the project we engaged with people with lived experience of disability and disadvantage, elevating their voices to build our understanding of customer experience. The project sought to capture the nuance of customer journeys in the library, not just the physical barriers, but the emotional and social journeys for these audience groups as they engaged with Library services.

We produced a customer experience capture methodology tailored for disability and disadvantaged customer groups, along with a large volume of experiential information about the way people engaged with our services. We also formed highly valued partnerships with a range of organisations.

Throughout the project we wanted to not just identify barriers but capture what the journey feels like. What the impact of these barriers are, focusing on our core research question: “What are the social, emotional, and physical journeys of these audience groups as they engage with State Library Victoria and its services?” We used focus group-style interviews, guided tours, and surveys of people with lived experience as primary methods for qualitative data collection.

In partnership with local disability-led or experience-lead organisations and projects each method was carefully tailored in consultation to the preferences and needs of each audience groups. Together we identified relevant journeys and developed a data capture approach for each one. This means we have a methodology that can be customised and repeated.

The project’s data was analysed and summarised into themes that illuminate the impacts of servicescape, markers of inclusion, engagement mechanisms, and the nature of the physical and digital space on customers with disability and disadvantage. This information was used to underpin a series of recommendations to remove barriers to access and improve sense of inclusion.

The Mapping Inclusive Services Project asks for transformative change by acceptance of diversity and addressing the unique needs of communities with additional access needs. It rekindles the library’s relationship with disability communities and our commitment to the values of accessibility, diversity, and social inclusion by prioritising the voices of those with disability or access needs and strengthening their expressions of critique.

Liz Pye

Manager, Change and Projects, State Library Victoria

Author Bio

Liz Pye is the Manager, Change and Projects, at State Library Victoria leading a change delivery team operating across both engagement and collections realms. Liz has an eclectic background across sales, learning design, human resource management, change and project management, applying a human-centred approach to organisational problems. Liz has extensive experience delivering transformative projects within both the public and private sectors, and lead the Library’s inclusion, diversity and access portfolio for three years. She combines a human-centred approach with a desire for action and is passionate about the provision of user centric services.

Aysha Tufa

Senior Librarian – Access and Inclusion, State Library Victoria

Author Bio

Aysha Tufa is the Senior Librarian, Access, and Inclusion, at State Library Victoria. Her role focuses on disability access and social inclusion within Visitor Information Services. Aysha uses a socially critical lens as part of her work ethos, consolidated by her experience working in arts, community engagement and the family violence sector. With a double degree in Communication Design and Business Marketing Aysha understands the importance of effective communication and connections to drive change. She recently earned a Master of Information Management from RMIT formalising her career as a librarian.