Some good news for the troubled theme of library viability. Not sure how those deeper rural places with challenging access to broadband are going to be given a fair crack of this particular whip. Still if we take this on face value the article provides some cause for optimism telling us:

From today local authorities can apply through the Arts Council application portal for free wifi funding. Libraries currently without free wifi access will be given priority and libraries that currently have wifi provision below the recommended technical specification will also have the opportunity to upgrade.

The announcement also highlights a new partnership between the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce and the Tinder Foundation which has launched a £100,000 Library Digital Inclusion Fund. The fund enables libraries to bid for resources to help people learn basic digital skills and help them get online. The initial pilot will run from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016 and will look to fund up to 15 library services across England.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey said: “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. This Government is committed to enabling everyone who can get online to do so, and the Tinder Foundation funding is another step on that journey. By channelling the support through libraries, we can ensure that this opportunity to become digitally aware is available to the whole community.”

The taskforce aims to provide leadership for libraries, implement the recommendations of the report and help reinvigorate the public service in England. They have set out aims of sharing best practice between councils, promoting the role of digital and shaping a workforce for the future.

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