Nearly two million people pass through the doors of the State Library of Victoria (SLV) every year. All those visitors make the SLV Australia’s busiest public library. So it’s no surprise that it boasts a broad range of facilities. But, more importantly, those facilities are increasingly accessible and inclusive. In addition to assistive technology zones and reading assistance tools, the SLV’s inclusive programming and accessible signage ensure accessibility and inclusion are an important part of the library.
So, what can the library offer people with disabilities or access requirements? Inform spoke with the SLV’s Access and Inclusion Librarian, Rebekah Marks, to find out.
‘In terms of programs, one of our children’s story time sessions will be a low sensory session, that part of the library will open an hour early on the first Wednesday of every month,’ she said.
Ms Marks explained that in addition to the low sensory session, children’s story time will be live-streamed and Auslan interpreted once a month. Meaning these sessions will provide access for children who are deaf or hearing-impaired and allow children and their families to watch from home.
In addition, access to the library from the comfort of your own home is something else that makes the library accessible. In fact, the library’s online catalogue offers broad access to its collections. Those collections include ‘ephemera, artworks, audio and video files, digitised copies of works, music scores, books and more’.
Ms Marks said that the library is also planning more accessible and inclusive programming and they’re working to make the signage in their permanent exhibitions large print. But that’s not all.
Accessibility and assistive technology
Assistive technology is a big part of the library’s accessible offering. There are now two assistive technology zones available. The first in the Quad and the second in the Redmond Barry Reading Room. Both zones feature a range of assistive technology, including:
- Large-screen computers on height-adjustable workstations
- Accessible keyboards and mouses options
- Assistive software for magnification, screen reading, text to speech and speech recognition
In addition, a range of reading assistance tools are available including book rests, magnifying sheets and magnifying glasses. The library also offers portable audio loop kits, which are available so people with hearing impairments can access guided tours. There’s also a courtesy wheelchair and multiple accessible bathrooms.
While the library cannot take the place of a support person or carer, Ms Marks says they can ‘act as a conduit’. In other words, they can provide access to assistive technology and accessible spaces and to the library’s impressive collections.
‘What I would like people [with disabilities] to know is that we’re open, we really want them to come and make use of the facilities,’ Ms Marks said.
‘The library is here for [people with disabilities] as it is for everybody who visits,’ she said.
But visiting isn’t all the library is open for. Ms Marks explained that they’re also very keen to improve accessibility and inclusion.
‘We are very open to being told about areas that aren’t suitable enough because we want to be improving what we do in terms of accessibility and inclusion,’ she said.
Find more information on accessibility and inclusion at the SLV here.
Do you have a positive story of accessibility and inclusion at your local library? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch at [email protected]