Government wants free net access in libraries

Government review suggests all libraries should offer free ebooks, free internet access and Sunday opening

A new Government review recommends all UK libraries should offer free internet access, Sunday opening and a promise to provide any book in the national book collection.

Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, has warned this week that "the context in which libraries operate is changing starkly and at speed" and that British citizens should get library membership entitlement from birth.

The new government review also suggests that commercial partnerships with companies such as Starbucks should be investigated further and that libraries should not be allowed to charge for ebooks.

The review states that libraries are "valuable communication tools and part of our cultural infrastructure" and that "changes in the market such as the mass digitisation of content by Google and others, Web 2.0 technology and the advent of ebooks are changing how people want to receive and engage with information."

Free ebooks for all

As far as access to ebooks goes, the review adds: "Although media commentators are fond of setting up an opposition between printed and digital books, there is no suggestion that ebooks will drive out our nation's passion for printed books or that libraries will be delivered only in the online space.

"Ebooks will enable library services to remain relevant in a market where people are using mobile devices to access information and entertainment."

"With more branches than McDonald's or Boots, and more visits to libraries than shoppers in London's West End, the public library network is a triumph of infrastructure and branding," Hodge notes in the review.

"As every good librarian knows, public libraries are not about sitting back and passively waiting for people to borrow your books," the Minister adds.

"They are about active engagement with the community, making links to other public services and responding to the policy imperatives of the day."

Via The Guardian