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Digital & social inclusion

This is a short summary of Activity 3 in Belgium for the Erasmus+ project 'An inclusive perspective to digital tools in lending libraries'.

Project participants of Activity 3.

Project participants of Activity 3

After sharing our passions about toy libraries and the sharing economy during the first exchange days in April in Gothenburg, it was great to meet all the project participants again in Belgium. 

Activity 3 started at Babythek Elzenhof in Brussels, where the staff and the volunteers gave a quick tour around the place. The Babythek lends out baby equipment such as strollers, carriers and infant car seats to their members, families with newborns. 


Customer (member) journeys

As a follow-up on the co-creation sessions that were held in Sweden and Belgium separately in June, we had a workshop about customer journeys and personas with Ines Vanlangendonck as our facilitator. During the workshop, the participants were divided in mixed groups with members from both the Swedish and the Flemish organizations (De Transformisten, Babythek, and Flemish toy libraries). Each group was assigned the task of analyzing a part of the customer journey that members make when they use the services of either a babythek or a toy library. 

The customer journey was divided in these steps: 

  • Becoming a member and making a reservation
  • Picking up a reservation
  • Returning a reservation

While analyzing these customer journeys further, the participants discovered that the customer journeys were not as easy and pleasant as they were supposed to be. Since the groups were mixed, all group members had different perspectives. The group who analyzed the process of becoming a member and making a reservation logged in to one of the platforms and showed each step of their process to the whole group. While they made the reservation, one of the participants noticed that it was not only possible to make a reservation in the present or in the future, but it was also possible to make a reservation for a past date. This was a big surprise both for the participants in the workshop and for the administrator in Sweden who was unaware of the test when the reservation appeared with a date that had already passed.


Digital Inclusion

During the workshop, we also discussed situations where each project member get frustrated with technology. Problems with booking train tickets and not being able to confirm payments were some examples where the users got frustrated and quit without completing the tasks. 

Members of the group expressed that they felt like they had done something wrong or that their digital skills were not sufficient when the systems failed and they could not accomplish their tasks. But what if the software was designed to be easy to use for all users, regardless of prior digital skills? What if the responsibility to learn a new software was not on the user, but on the developer? How do we make digital tools more inclusive?

After the workshop, the group had a tour in the European Parliament where we also had a meeting with Mattias Bjärnemalm, digital policy advisor for the Pirate Parties (Greens/EFA group) and MEP Sara Matthieu (Greens). We discussed digital inclusion, the sharing economy and sustainable initiatives from Europe. Eva van Velzen from DeTransformisten wrote more about our visit at the Parliament here.

Social Inclusion and Sustainability in Bruges

During the second day, the group traveled from Brussels to Bruges for study visits. The first study visits took place at “Inloophuis 't Sas” and at the social grocery store “De Kaba” where visitors with a low income can buy a limited amount of groceries for a reduced price and get some supplies for free. Some of the groceries are food waste from stores. Later that day, we also had lunch at a social restaurant where sustainability is a key ingredient.

Another study visit took place at the Flemish toy library “De Piepbal”. Upon arrival, the Swedish members recognized many articles from their own inventory. The staff told the group about the toy library and how it was created especially for members with functional variations/disabilities. Both the toy library in itself and the inventory of toys and games were adapted. For example, there were different sensory rooms. 

During our visit to the toy library, we also had a meeting with "Skriewer", an organization in Bruges where children can learn through play. At Skriewer, there are not many fixed toys, but rather materials. For example, children could stack VHS tapes to build a tower. Skriewer told us about their ways of inspiring children to create out of their imagination, often from reused materials, as a part of playing. 


Slow traveling = team building! 

The Swedish project members traveled to Belgium in late October. We took the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel and then continued by train through Germany to Brussels. During our trip, the staff, the members of the board and the volunteers had time to get to know each other better. We also had a workshop on the ferry and collaborated on different projects on the train.


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