All libraries in England will be able to offer free WiFi access from March 2016, following £7.1m funding from Arts Council England.
Local authorities have been urged to apply for the new funding to ensure all public libraries can offer free WiFi access. The funding can also be used to improve WiFi provision that is below the recommended technical specifications.
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.’
A new partnership between the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce and the Tinder Foundation has also been launched, creating a £100,000 Library Digital Inclusion Fund. Up to 15 library services will be able to bid for a share of the money to help get more people online and develop basic digital skills.
Helen Milner, chief executive for Tinder Foundation, said the new partnership will help create and share best practice on digital inclusion.
‘Libraries are perfectly positioned to provide digital inclusion support to their communities, and by running this project alongside the drive for better WiFi in libraries will mean we can have an even bigger impact,’ she said.