Recently, we’ve been looking closely at links between digital inclusion and libraries. To help us understand a little bit more, we hosted an ad hoc workshop which brought together our charter signatories and representatives from organisations such as Samsung and IBM.
William Sieghart, who is leading an expert panel and producing an independent report on the public library service in England, presented his views on the future of libraries and this kicked off the afternoon of discussions and workshopping.
Libraries provide a hub open to anyone
The main focus of the afternoon was to share ideas and gather more information about the benefits of wifi in libraries and to scope out potential commitments from our partners. We asked attendees to think about what their organisations could offer and make suggestions about how to improve libraries, specifically under the following headings: training provision, upskilling staff, co-location, resources and publicity.
Libraries are a neutral, non-threatening environment for digital inclusion activities
We know there are many barriers that are stopping people from getting online. Having the right skills, confidence and motivation are all issues which for some can be a bigger barrier than lack of wifi or access. However, the impression of the day was that libraries could be instrumental in helping people get online and we need to help them do just that.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that wifi is appropriate for all libraries. In some cases, reasons such as lack of space in smaller libraries contributes to wifi causing more problems than it solves. There are of course practicalities that need to be worked out, which we were able to explore further while visiting a number of libraries in London and East Sussex, however there are a wide range of benefits that wifi in libraries bring and these are more important. We found out a lot of very interesting and useful information while visiting four different libraries and we will post a more detailed look at some of the benefits, drawbacks, and user stories of wifi in libraries very soon!
Libraries are local, safe spaces which support individuals as well as groups
If you are part of an organisation that is interested in signing up to the charter, getting further involved in digital inclusion or if you have any other tips or suggestions, contact the digital inclusion team at: firstname.lastname@example.org