Share

Drizzle

Fri

17°C | 9°C

Sunny spells

Sat

18°C | 10°C

Mostly Cloudy

Sun

18°C | 11°C

Home   Kent   News   Article

More Kent libraries fail to provide WiFi wireless internet access than anywhere else in the country

27 August 2015
by KentOnline reporter

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 WiFi.

It follows a warning from ministers that the lack of WiFi could fuel their alarming decline.

Kent's libraries fared worst in the list of WiFi offerings

Kent's libraries fared worst in the list of WiFi offerings

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

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

In contrast, libraries in 26 of London's 32 boroughs all have WiFi.

WiFi is unavailable at 65 out of 100 Kent libraries

WiFi is unavailable at 65 out of 100 Kent libraries

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 Ssport (DCMS), follows a warning to ministers that public libraries are doomed unless they offer WiFi.

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

"We're at a critical moment for the libraries and if we're not careful we could lose so many" - William Sieghart

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 WiFi.

Mr Sieghart described the absence of WiFi as "astonishing", saying: "We're at a critical moment for the libraries and if we're not careful we could lose so many."

The study also recommended that every library in the country be placed on a single digital network and changes to copyright laws to boost e-loans.

The DCMS carried out the survey as the Arts Council last month announced £7.1 million with the aim of delivering WiFi 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".

A lack of WiFi in many libraries is fuelling their decline according to a government survey

A lack of WiFi in many libraries is fuelling their decline according to a government survey

But the funding will pay only for the initial installation or upgrade, with all ongoing costs - such as monthly fees and renewals - to be met by local authorities, or partner bodies.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said, last month: "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.

"By channelling the support through libraries, we can ensure that this opportunity to become digitally aware is available to the whole community."

A Kent County Council spokesman said: "Kent Libraries Registration and Archives is currently offering Wi-Fi in 34 of its 99 libraries.

"We are preparing a bid to Arts Council England for funding to expand coverage to the remaining 65 libraries.

"This is part of a government-funded initiative aiming for all public libraries in England to offer free public Wi-Fi .

"This provision is in addition to the computers already available in all libraries - 679 in total with internet access provided for Kent residents."

Click here for more news from Kent.

Click here for more news from around the county.

Sorry, comments are not enabled for this article.

Register or log in via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or your KentOnline account to post comments.Post Comment

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned. Please click here for our house rules.

Comments 

Forgotten Password?

Forgotten Username?

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments.
Please click here for our house rules.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.