Holyrood provides an extra £1.5 million to support network projects in public spaces
The Scottish Government has announced an initiative to make Wi-Fi more widely available in the country’s libraries and public spaces with a £1.5 million funding boost for this financial year.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the move is the second phase of a programme that involved the provision of £300,000 to the Scottish Library and Information Council in 2014-15.
It will be used to support a range of wireless network projects in public buildings and spaces under the Public Wireless Programme. Extending Wi-Fi to public libraries that do not currently have it is a major element of the programme.
Promoting digital inclusion is one of the aims of the Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020, which was published in June. It says that libraries should make the best use of digital technologies, and that Wi-Fi should be available and easily accessible in every one.
Spreading digital literacy
Among the ideas is to promote the concept of the virtual library with 24/7 access to digital resources, and to use libraries as spaces to spread digital literacy.
The document says that recent figures from the Scottish Library and Information Council show that 72% of the country’s libraries now offer Wi-Fi access.
In addition, the provision of e-books is a feature of the aim to promote reading, literacy and learning.
Speaking on an official visit to a library in Ullapool, Swinney said: “Helping libraries and other public spaces to provide free connectivity will be increasingly important as the use of smartphones and tablets continues to increase and the appetite for internet access on the move grows.
“Libraries don’t just provide access to reading material, they play a crucial role in providing access to IT, improving attainment, supporting children in the early years and empowering communities.”
He also highlighted the work of a Get To Know Your Techno group at the library, which uses Wi-Fi access to get more people using digital technology.
Picture: Langholm Library, Dumfries and Galloway, by Paul Stainthorp CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons