Wi-Fi in UK public libraries


All libraries in England to get wi-fi funding. By Joshua Farrington. Bookseller 19 March 2015
"The government will provide funding to give wi-fi access to all public libraries across England, chanceller George Osborne revealed yesterd
ay (18th March) is his pre-election budget speech. The budget document said that £7.4m would be provided to fund wi-fi.If the money is spread equally among the 151 library authorities in England, it would mean a £49,000 windfall for each to help develop digital access. According to figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) released in December last year, only 48% of libraries in England currently have wi-fi access.Improving internet access and wi-fi availability was one of the key aims which William Sieghart identified in the Sieghart Report into public libraries last year".

Over 1,000 more UK public buildings to get free wi-fi under government scheme. By Colin Barker ZDNet 30 October 302014
Summary: The next phase of the government's £150m investment in free wi-fi is rolling out, with the scheme on track to be completed "as soon as March 2015".
"To take one local example of how the wi-fi scheme is being implemented, in Manchester it will mean the addition of around 150 new wi-fi hotspots. They will be distributed across 21 public libraries including Central Library; seven art galleries or museums including the Urbis and City Art Gallery; nine homeless shelters; 29 leisure centres; 31 government-sponsored Sure Start centres; as well as various other parks, youth clubs, markets, community centres, leisure clubs, and adult education centres."

WiFi providers to public libraries

"Trusted providers" of WiFi solutions to public libraries - identified in LIS-PUB-LIBS (listserve) Posting June 2014
T James Telecoms Limited
Imerja Ltd
Infor
Insight Media Internet Ltd
The Cloud
Performance Networks Ltd

Managing access/filtering

Managing Access to the Internet in Public Libraries [MAIPLE]. (Report) by Rachel Spacey and Louise Cooke with Adrienne Muir and Claire Creaser. LISU, Loughborough University. August 2014
NOTE: Their is more information about the project, including links to articles, on the project website
Managing Access to the Internet in Public Libraries (MAIPLE) was a 24-month project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), carried out between September 2012 and August 2014 by a team from Loughborough University, led by Dr Louise Cooke.

State of WiFi in public libraries

(NOTE 2009 report)
The following is taken from:-
‘A review and evaluation of Wi-Fi services in United Kingdom public libraries’. Insight Media Internet Limited April 2009

'This report reviews and evaluates public Wi-Fi services in United Kingdom (UK) public libraries based on market research carried out by Insight Media Internet Limited in January 2009.

The UK public library Wi-Fi hotspot market, based on the responses, indicates a higher percentage of implementations than previously and over 45% already having Wi-Fi. Providing Wi-Fi facilities in public libraries for many of the UK authorities is something that is relatively new and, taking into consideration the implementation of 10 pilots as part of the Libraries Go Wireless initiative in 2004, there has been rapid take up, with a high percentage of library authorities having implemented Wi-Fi and a significant number that are currently planning to implement it. However, very few authorities with Wi-Fi have undertaken large implementations across all their sites - the majority of implementations have been made in a small selective number of locations. Also although the initiative in 2004 was for rural libraries many of the subsequent implementations have been in urban areas which have been driven by the need to meet high utilisation targets and customer demand. A very large percentage of implementations appear to have been driven or largely influenced by the specific requirements of libraries and these implementations have in the main been achieved using 3rd party solutions in conjunction with support from corporate Information Technology (IT) departments.

A high percentage of authorities with Wi-Fi are planning to increase the number of libraries with this service, and over 75 percent of all respondents would like to implement it in all their libraries, with almost 30 percent of these interested in making Wi-Fi available via mobile libraries. A higher percentage of respondents who have not implemented Wi-Fi (planning and not planning) appear to desire solutions that provide increased functionality, like integration with other systems, filtering and print management, in contrast to many of the sites already implemented.

The analysis section below that covers benefits to libraries and considerations when implementing Wi-Fi provides some useful insights from authorities that have already implemented Wi-Fi, especially when evaluating the benefits gained against the original justification for implementing the service. Enhancing the library service was the main reason why libraries have, or are considering Wi-Fi implementations, which reflects that most implementations and planned implementations have been or are being led or progressed by libraries as opposed to IT departments. It was however revealing to see that the second most common reason for wanting to implement a Wi-Fi solution (across all categories) was customer request or customer demand. This accounted for almost 20 percent of the respondents. With some authorities seeing declining numbers of borrowers and experiencing difficulty attracting new users, it is encouraging to see that respondents with Wi-Fi say that the main benefits are that the service has raised the profile of the library, attracted new users or enhanced the library service.

Respondents highlighted cost and financial implications as the major obstacle or barrier to successful implementation. The main area that appears to have been overlooked, under estimated or lacked consideration was security and other technical considerations.
However in general respondents would not have changed their methodology or allocated more time, with the benefit of hindsight. This review and evaluation has been based primarily on the information supplied in the detailed questionnaires, and the analysis section below outlines the questions asked and the responses.'

Lending WiFi hotspots - US initiative


CPL, NYPL WiFi Hotspot Lending Programs Funded by Knight Foundation Grants. By Matt Enis Library Journal 25 June 2014
"In an effort to address the lack of broadband access among low-income residents, the Chicago Public Library (CPL), and New York Public Library (NYPL) on June 23 announced new programs that will allow patrons to check out and take home Wi-Fi hotspots. NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet,” and CPL’s “Internet to Go” programs are made possible, in part, by grants awarded this week by the Knight News Challenge, a competition developed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Mozilla, to fund and promote projects committed to making the Internet an open, equitable platform.

“In New York City, about 27 percent of households don’t have computers or broadband at home,” Tony Marx, president and CEO of NYPL, told LJ. In households with incomes of $35,000 or less, the figure is closer to 50 percent. “That means that there are neighborhoods in New York—the poorer neighborhoods in New York—where it’s prevalent that people do not have computers or broadband at home.”

Controversy – Wi-Fi and Digital Economy Bill


Library Wi-Fi authentication services
Information supplied by Lorensbergs
"Concerns over providing internet access in libraries, particularly in the case of wi-fi use, were raised around the time the Digital Economy Act came into force in 2010. These concerns continue today: Wi-fi users would be difficult for library staff to identify, yet the library could be held to account as an ISP should a library internet user breach copyright laws. It was already very desirable for libraries to offer wi-fi to members and encourage membership, but the ability to authenticate wi-fi users against LMS records became a critical need. Authentication ensures libraries can identify individual wi-fi users, both at the time of use and maintain a record that can be referenced in the future. This authentication protects the library from potential liability under the legislation for copyright breaches. Authentication services may offer a further benefit of measuring wi-fi usage, by user group and by site. Statistics on use demonstrate the changing use of libraries in the wi-fi age and the demand on services provided. An example of an authentication service product is ‘netloan wi-fi’ from lorensbergs".



Concerns over providing internet access in libraries, particularly in the case of wi-fi use, were raised around the time the Digital Economy Act came into force in 2010. These concerns continue today: Wi-fi users would be difficult for library staff to identify, yet the library could be held to account as an ISP should a library internet user breach copyright laws.
It was already very desirable for libraries to offer wi-fi to members and encourage membership, but the ability to authenticate wi-fi users against LMS records became a critical need. Authentication ensures libraries can identify individual wi-fi users, both at the time of use and maintain a record that can be referenced in the future. This authentication protects the library from potential liability under the legislation for copyright breaches.
Authentication services may offer a further benefit of measuring wi-fi usage, by user group and by site. Statistics on use demonstrate the changing use of libraries in the wi-fi age and the demand on services provided. An example of an authentication service product is ‘netloan wi-fi’ from lorensbergs.