Public libraries to get speedy new networks

Organisations are working together to ensure public libraries in the UK get better internet connections and more online resources.

Library broadband

Public libraries across the UK are set to get a broadband boost as a new agreement is reached by public bodies to deliver a faster internet connection and better online education services.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has been working together with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the UK's education and research network (JANET) to help the public centres improve connections to reach speeds of 1Gbps, some 10 times faster than current library connections.

MLA chief executive, Roy Clare, said in a statement: "This is the biggest digital advance for public libraries since internet services were introduced through the People's Network."

"The MLA is pushing ahead with further developments in its range of digital resources for users of public libraries. We urge all public libraries to speed up their internet connections and actively promote their existing 24/7 on-line services."

In addition to boosting speeds, the MLA wants to strengthen its online referencing programme, increase e-book services and develop policies on digital inclusion, digital life skills and media literacy.

Fiona Williams, president of the Society of Chief Librarians, praised the moves by the MLA and said in a statement: "We welcome this initiative as fast connection speeds are essential to how people use the internet. Libraries all over the country are rapidly developing their e-services and responding to user need."

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