Arts Council England announces £7.1 million library Wi-Fi fund

Arts Council England has announced a new £7.1 million fund to help ensure that public libraries in England can offer free Wi-Fi services by March 2016.

The ‘Wi-Fi in Public Libraries in England’ fund has been established to build universal coverage in all public libraries, which the Arts Council says is hoped to build local digital skills.

Libraries without current free Wi-Fi access will be given priority but those facilities with services that are below optimum speeds will also be eligible for funding to upgrade them.

In addition, the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce and the Tinder Foundation have partnered to launch a £100,000 Library Digital Inclusion Fund to allow libraries to access resources that will assist local people in developing digital skills.

This initial pilot scheme is set to run from 1st October 2015 to 31st March 2016 to fund up to 15 library services across England.

Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, commented: These funding programmes are a vital part of expanding the digital offer in libraries in England.

Ensuring communities across England have access to free WiFi boosts the digital economy and enables more people to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.”

Brian Ashley, Director Libraries and Midlands, Arts Council England, added: This is an exciting opportunity to increase the digital offering in all public libraries in England, develop partnerships between them and build a strong and sustainable library network across the country for the future.”

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