Warn­ing as county li­braries fail to pro­vide enough Wi-fi

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - What’s On -

More li­braries in Kent are fail­ing to pro­vide wire­less in­ter­net ac­cess than any­where else in the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment sur­vey, 65 of the county’s 99 li­braries do not of­fer Wi-fi.

It fol­lows a warn­ing from min­is­ters that the lack of Wi-fi in li­braries could fuel their alarm­ing de­cline.

Those miss­ing out in­clude Bock­hanger in Ken­ning­ton, Char­ing, Stan­hope in Ash­ford, Wye, Lydd, Lyminge and New Rom­ney.

Na­tion­wide, more than 700 public li­braries do not have wire­less ac­cess, with it be­ing far more wide­spread in big cities while ru­ral ar­eas miss out.

Af­ter Kent, the next worst-hit ar­eas are Cum­bria with 46 li­braries, Durham with 33, Lin­colnshire with 31 and Northum­ber­land with 30.

In con­trast, li­braries in 26 of Lon­don’s 32 bor­oughs all have Wi-fi.

And Brad­ford, Leeds, Le­ices­ter, Liver­pool, Manch­ester and Stoke all boast 100 per cent cov­er­age in their li­braries.

The sur­vey, by the Depart­ment for Cul­ture, Media and Sport (DCMS), fol­lows a warn­ing to min­is­ters that public li­braries are doomed un­less they of­fer Wi-fi.

That was the stark con­clu­sion, last De­cem­ber, of the In­de­pen­dent Li­brary Re­port for Eng­land, which fol­lowed at least 324 clo­sures since 2011.

The re­port, writ­ten by the au­thor Wil­liam Sieghart, called for li­braries to be more like cof­fee shops in or­der to at­tract visi­tors with higher ex­pec­ta­tions, of­fer­ing so­fas and hot drinks as well as Wi-fi.

Mr Sieghart de­scribed the ab­sence of Wi-fi as “as­ton­ish­ing”, say­ing: “We’re at a crit­i­cal mo­ment for the li­braries and if we’re not care­ful we could lose so many.”

The DCMS car­ried out the sur­vey as the Arts Coun­cil last month an­nounced £7.1 mil­lion with the aim of de­liv­er­ing Wi-fi in all li­braries that lack it, by March next year.

Grants will be given to li­braries with no wire­less in­ter­net con­nec­tion at all and to those where cur­rent con­nec­tions fall “be­low the rec­om­mended tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion”.

But fund­ing will pay only for ini­tial in­stal­la­tion or up­grade, with all on­go­ing costs, monthly fees and re­newals, to be met by lo­cal author­i­ties, or part­ners.

Pic­ture: is­tock.com

Li­braries in Kent are lag­ging be­hind in of­fer­ing Wi-fi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.