THE PEOPLE'S NETWORK - The public library ITC Network
The People's Network
is a £120m lottery funded programme to set up ICT learning centres all UK public libraries and to train library staff in ICT skills. The project is funded by the New Opportunities Fund and is managed by the Museum's, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). A further £50m has been used to develop content which is freely available on the Internet.
Through the People's Network all public libraries can now provide access to the Internet, to online services supporting the information needs of local communities and also to Internet-based Government Services. As a result there are now more than 4000 public libraries across the UK which offer either free or low cost broadband access to the Internet and online services. Trained library staff are also on hand to help people to learn new skills and find the information they want.
In March 2004 the MLA announced a £60,000 pilot project
to explore how wireless Internet access (WI-FI) could help provide broadband Internet access for rural communities.
Some rural libraries are now improving Internet access by installing WI-FI "hotspots" enabling users to connect to the Internet without cables or wires. It is hoped that local users will be able to take advantage of this technology to enjoy greater access to online services 24 hours a day even when library buildings are closed.
The People's Network initiative is part of the Government's wider plans, known as UK online
, to give everyone in the UK, who wants to, the chance to access and use the Internet. There are 6000 UK online centres in England with half situated in public libraries.