Redesign with inclusion in mind: creating a checklist for inclusive spaces

BERTHOUD, Heidy, CADOGAN, Sharyn and DIPASQUALE, Joanna (2018) Redesign with inclusion in mind: creating a checklist for inclusive spaces. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 127 - Library Buildings and Equipment.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Redesign with inclusion in mind: creating a checklist for inclusive spaces

At Vassar College, we are fortunate to work in an architecturally stunning building. Completed in 1905, the Thompson Memorial Library is an example of the perpendicular gothic style, complete with buttresses, towers, and gargoyles. The entryway features the friezes of Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge; our main reading room is dominated by the stained glass Cornaro Window, depicting the Lady Elena Lucretia Cornaro-Piscopio receiving her doctorate from the University of Padua in 1678. At Vassar College, we are hampered by an architecturally intimidating space. Completed in 1905, the library was designed as an impressive showpiece to house collections, and it has proven difficult to adapt the space to the needs of today’s researchers. The overt displays of Western European privilege encoded in its walls can be alienating and exclusionary to our ever-changing student population. As our campus focuses more attention (and rightly so) on creating an inclusive and equitable environment for all, we are left to wonder how our space can catch up. The library’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Working Group, together with members of the Digital Scholarship Services Collaboration, are using the planned renovation of a former Reserves Room space as an experimental lab for inclusive design. Using research on inclusive and accessible technologies, design in higher education, inclusive design in public spaces, and feedback from our students, we are creating an “Inclusive design checklist.” This checklist informs not only the design process, but will help us to set community norms and expectations around equitable use of the resulting space. We anticipate that this work will be used and reused to guide future projects within the library. Using the PechaKucha format, we would like to share our checklist with the audience, and demonstrate what inclusive library design can look like in a liberal arts college setting.

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