Free wifi now available in all Devon Libraries

Posted on: 15 September 2015

Visitors to any one of Devon’s 50 libraries will now be able to enjoy free Wi-Fi, Devon County Council has announced.

23 of the county’s larger libraries already offered the facility, and now the council has invested £70,000 in order to roll out free Wi-Fi to all of its remaining libraries.

The move is part of the county council’s wider digital strategy for libraries which aims to make the service more digitally focussed in order to better meet the changing needs of local communities.

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for the library service, explains:

“Our libraries are about far more than just books, they are hubs for information, learning and culture at the very heart of our communities. The introduction of wifi across the whole county will only strengthen this by ensuring our residents have good access to digital services.

“Being able to get online quickly and safely improves people’s lives, especially for those who live in rural area or don’t have internet access at home. Offering free Wi-Fi in our libraries will allow people to access important services such as benefit advice and job opportunities as well as help them apply for things like blue badge and parking permits quickly and easily.

“It will also open up new ways for people to access some of our digital library services, such as searching our catalogue, renewing and reserving books, borrowing e-books and e-audiobooks and accessing lots of online reference sources for free.

“Using their own personal laptops, smart phones and tablets, users will also be able to browse the web, use social networking sites, and connect to email, which is of tremendous benefit as keeping in touch with friends and family online can help combat loneliness and isolation.

“Free Wi-Fi was one of the top things people said they wanted to see introduced in libraries, so we’ve pulled out the stops to make it happen as quickly as possible. I hope everyone will make good use of it.”

Existing Wi-Fi facilities have also been upgraded in Exmouth to provide better coverage, and in Newton Abbot, Sidmouth, Honiton and Dartmouth to allow more users. Wi-Fi will be available in Chulmliegh Library once it reopens in its new premises on the community college site in the Autumn.

Those wanting to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi just need to pop in to their nearest library, and log on. Staff will be on hand to help if needed.

Wi-Fi is not the only change taking place in Devon’s libraries. Work is underway to establish a new independent ‘mutual’ organisation which would be commissioned by Devon County Council to run libraries on their behalf from April 2016.

The move means that, despite the authority facing a £50 million reduction in its funding in the next financial year, all of the County’s libraries would remain open and continue to be managed by professional library staff.

To find out more, please visit the Future Libraries website for all the latest information.

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