Libraries' investment in new technologies recognises demand for their services
As libraries pause many services in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the latest public library survey results from Lorensbergs serve as an important reminder of the essential and enduring role libraries perform in the digital space.
Libraries have been investing in computers, printers and kiosks, maintaining critical public infrastructure for digital inclusion and progression. Around 80% have made or plan to make investment in computers in 2019-21, 65% are investing in printers, and 70% in kiosks. Further plans for more equipment to support coding and makerspace activities illustrate the range of modern services libraries are seeking to expand upon.
The findings show almost 80% of libraries have been seeing constant or growing numbers of customers request help with digital skills. At one in five libraries, computer usage is increasing, as staff continue to nurture both the skills and confidence for users to become digitally literate. Greater availability of this help from library staff is cited as the main reason for increasing PC use. Digital by default services, especially Universal Credit and Universal Jobmatch, are further driving forces making it essential for benefit claimants and jobseekers to access online systems.
The investment in kiosks and the self-service it facilitates are a critical part of meeting customer needs. With staff freed up from routine transactions, they have greater flexibility in how their time is spent, helping them meet demand for assisted digital services and support for skills development.
Anna Crilly, Lorensbergs’ Managing Director, says: "When libraries reopen their doors and resume full services in the time ahead, their role in the community for providing digital support will be more important than ever. These annual survey findings from Lorensbergs offer important insights and trend information, supporting decision making for what’s needed when services restart.
“Libraries are the 'go to' place for getting online and finding help with digital skills and services. Their steadfast commitment to this role is strongly evident from their continuing investment in essential infrastructure, the support provided by their staff and their busy programmes of classes and clubs. Despite facing significant funding challenges, many libraries are planning to do much more and deserve recognition for all they provide.”
The full set of the 2019 netloan public library survey results are available from Lorensbergs' website here.
About Lorensbergs (www.lorensbergs.co.uk)
Lorensbergs offers a range of market-leading software solutions with expert advice to match. Our range of intelligent and customisable PC booking and online booking solutions, netloan and connect2, have been designed to streamline booking processes and improve efficiencies in libraries and local authorities, universities and colleges. Lorensbergs offers consultancy services and training, working closely with customers to enhance service provision for library, university and public service users and patrons.