With the Libraries Taskforce funding secured for the next four years, it’s good to see that the public library’s role in digital enablement is being backed and progressed. This follows the news that 99% of public libraries in England will be able to provide free Wi-Fi access by end of March 2016, now the application process has been completed for the £7.4m Wi-Fi funding being administered by the Arts Council. A further £100,000 is enabling 16 authorities to pilot new programmes for advancing digital skills targeted at those from more isolated or socially excluded groups – an initiative undertaken by the Taskforce in partnership with the Tinder Foundation.
The importance of this work was highlighted at last month’s PMLG conference. Libraries are indispensable to a healthy and prosperous society and their work supporting digital enablement was a key focus of discussion throughout the event. In short, the skills and opportunity to get online are commonly agreed as being essential elements contributing to well-being, both for individuals and on a wider economic level.
As a technology supplier to public library authorities throughout the UK, Lorensbergs supports the services libraries offer their communities. It’s our aim to progress the digital offer through our netloan computer and Wi-Fi management solutions and we gained many invaluable insights from being on the ground at the inaugural conference. Please look out for the next issue of Access magazine from PMLG for further reflections on the conference proceedings.
Acknowledging progress and achievements
Russell Allen, West Sussex County Council, winner of the Public Librarian of the Year Award with Lorensbergs’ Philippa Bryant.
The digital enablement provided by libraries is of course only one of many crucial roles they play in supporting health and wellbeing. Throughout the PMLG conference there were examples of how libraries are looking to develop a more structured approach for sustaining and acknowledging their extensive work and achievements. There is plenty of progress to highlight, from the leadership of the Libraries Taskforce in building best practice, to the individual initiatives celebrated by this year’s PMLG awards.
It was a great privilege to sponsor and present the Public Librarian of the Year Award which went to Russell Allen, Team Leader of Children’s services at West Sussex County Council. Russell has made a concerted effort to represent, communicate and promote the services available to library users, in particular some of the specialist resources available to children and young people with special needs. He has consistently reached out beyond the library to schools and professionals in education, health and social services, to establish ways of working that have raised the profile and reach of the library service. We are absolutely delighted to be associated with the award.
The PMLG conference was a well organised and inspiring event. We gained a wonderful overview of the work undertaken by libraries in promoting wellbeing and hope that recognition of their work continues to be generated in line with their accomplishments. As suppliers, we look forward to continuing our support of libraries as they build digital skills and offer vital computer and Wi-Fi facilities throughout their communities.