Enhanced WiFi service for Peterborough’s libraries after Arts Council England funding

Peterborough Central Library, Broadway, Peterborough. Photo: Rowland Hobson/Peterborough Telegraph

Peterborough Central Library, Broadway, Peterborough. Photo: Rowland Hobson/Peterborough Telegraph

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Peterborough City Council is one of 68 local authorities across England to receive funding (£24,705) from the Arts Council to provide and enhance free WiFi to library users as part of its WiFi in Public Libraries in England fund.

The Arts Council is investing £2.6 million in these 68 projects.

The funding will enable over 1,000 libraries to either provide WiFi for the first time, or to upgrade their current provision to make it faster and more easily accessible.

The aim is that by March 2016 over 98 per cent of public libraries will be able to provide the most widespread opportunities in the country for people to connect to free, good quality WiFi on their laptops, smartphones and tablets.

The WiFi in Public Libraries in England fund was set up following William Sieghart’s independent report on libraries and is an early priority for the Libraries Task Force.

It is being delivered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

The fund supports the Arts Council’s goals around developing library services, ensuring that they are fit for purpose now and in the future.

The funding will help to unlock further opportunities for libraries to extend their services, tackling digital exclusion, leading to growth in digital skills and enabling the development of new partnerships that will benefit local residents and citizens.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “I am delighted that this fund will enable over 1,000 libraries to either provide WiFi for the first time or to upgrade their current service.

“It is a vital step to ensuring that all public libraries can provide WiFi access to their communities. As more services become available online, this will increasingly make libraries the place to go for people who don’t have the access or the confidence to use digital services.

“Libraries are already supporting a wide range of online services, from applying for jobs to local information. This is a significant milestone in the on-going work of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce to help libraries grow and modernise.”

Darren Henley, chief executive Arts Council England, said: “Arts Council England has worked hard with its partners from the Libraries Task Force to support Local Authorities to meet the tight deadline and submit applications.

“It’s brilliant that as a result, over 98 per cent of public libraries in England will be providing access to free, good quality WiFi by March 2016. I’m so pleased that this important fund is enabling libraries across England to offer more vital services to their users and encourage more people to use and enjoy their local libraries.”