Bringing the UK online through libraries
Britain wants to be the first computer literate nation in the world and here at the Society of Chief Librarians we are intent on ensuring that libraries help in achieving this goal.
At the start of the national Race On-line project, or newly named Go ON UK, our aim was to support 500,000 people get online by the end of the year. This turned out to be a complete underestimate of not just the thirst of the UK to get online, but importantly the role which our libraries can play in achieving this.
Three quarters of the way through the year, we have already supported 3 million people to use digital services in libraries across the UK. Our staff and volunteers have worked with library customers to encourage them to take those important first steps in becoming IT literate.
We have encouraged staff to assist users in accessing digital information / resources at the library, as well as for those with remote access who are interested in e-lending of digital books, audio and video. We are also working in partnership with other organisations to help deliver a single point of digital contact for all public libraries as well as creating a national catalogue of resources for loan.
Already we’re seeing significant changes taking place. Within this 3 million figure stories emerge of people in Dudley getting enough technical understanding to help them get a job; “IT and Tea” taster sessions being run in Luton libraries; a grandmother in Accrington able to learn how to use the computer to be more involved with her grandkids’ activities; and community colleges in Liverpool able to use libraries for drop in study centres.
It is only too clear to me how very important to many peoples’ lives reaching this Race Online target is. It is also very evident how much use libraries have and will be in helping to reach it. I look forward to continuing in this pursuit.