The Importance of Public Library Computers

Below is a press release from Lorensbergs and Cilip about a new book ‘More Short Stories from the People’s Network’ which outlines twelve new case studies underlining the importance of public library computers.  This builds on the original publication ‘Short Stories from the People’s Network

I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy at the Cilip conference in July and was impressed with the range of activities taking place in libraries across the UK. Despite the perception of everyone owning a digital device there are still large numbers of the public reliant on the computers provided in public libraries and the digital support provided by staff.

As the Cilip President, Ayub Khan, states in the foreword:

“Free library computers are a lifeline to the digitally disadvantaged in our increasingly online world. It’s getting harder to do essential, everyday things offline – like shopping, homework, or applying for jobs. The Government’s ‘digital by default’ policy aims to make everything from taxing the car to applying for benefits, online-only transactions. Government figures for 20171 revealed that 90% of households had internet access – but that still leaves around three million households without it. Plus many other lower income households are without broadband and rely solely on mobile phones, which offer connectivity but are less suited for making benefit or job applications.”

Both books are available for download and provide further evidence of the valuable services offered by public libraries and library staff for the benefit of their communities.

More Short Stories from the People’s Network

Twelve case studies evidencing the continuing importance of public access computers in UK libraries have been published in a new book ‘More Short Stories from the People’s Network’.

The stories have been compiled for publication by Lorensbergs, and supported by CILIP, the UK’s library and information association. The book shares the experiences of twelve public library authorities and provides vital insights into the progress achieved and challenges overcome when helping customers to access and use the internet.

Many opportunities to participate and progress are available only to those with the means and skills to get online. It’s essential for many life critical tasks, yet 10% of UK households are without connectivity to the internet, and many more are without broadband. Millions make use of library computers – collectively known as the People’s Network – to apply for jobs, benefits, find new opportunities and remain socially included.

The book is the second volume of case studies on how the People’s Network remains an essential piece of national infrastructure provided by the UK’s public library service. Its chapters describe the many initiatives taken by library staff to keep their communities connected and inclusive.

Libraries Minister Michael Ellis said: “Internet access is now an integral part of a modern library service. Public libraries offer both the facilities and the practical support to help people get online and develop their digital skills. This is hugely important to society, now and in the future.

“I welcome this publication, which helps the sector share experiences, learning and best practice to improve services for library users across the country.”

Anna Crilly, Managing Director of Lorensbergs, comments: “This new collection continues to communicate the national story of the value of the people’s network. Today, nearly half of libraries are seeing requests for help with digital skills rising, with the vast remainder needing to satisfy a constant level of demand for this support from their communities. These stories provide the narrative behind the statistics and explore the difference libraries are making to people’s lives.”

Ayub Khan, CILIP President, who provides a foreword to the book, said: “These stories offer a compelling message on the continuing importance of the People’s Network. It’s a book that deserves to be read by all those with a stake in the welfare and development of our society.”

Press contacts

  • Philippa Bryant, Head of Marketing, Lorensbergs – philippa.bryant@lorensbergs.co.uk
  • Mark Taylor, Director of External Relations, CILIP – mark.taylor@cilip.org.uk

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