VftL team member Gary writes about attending ‘See I.T. In Action’. This blog post is particularly timely, as this week is ‘Get Online Week’, part of Race Online 2012.
I attended the “See I.T. In Action” event a couple of weeks ago at RichMix in London. It was organised to show how I.T. projects led by local authorities or partner organisations have made an impact on people’s lives throughout the U.K. Even though the focus wasn’t on public libraries it was clear that public libraries have an important role to play in a U.K. that is developing itself as a digital society.
Right from the start, one of the keynote speakers, Liam Barnes talked about how The City of London had used public libraries to help tackle social and digital exclusion as part of the “Community Everybody Online Project“. The Media Trust “Community Voices” project also talked about the “Club for Teens” set up in Suffolk’s Gainsborough Library, which used digital media to make a difference in young people’s lives. The “Brightside Trust” partnered with North Lincolnshire in an e-mentoring programme to help young people in care achieve independent living. One of the children stated that they could participate in the programme anywhere, even “do it in the library.” Staffordshire Moorlands Council looked at how they could improve their services for the public by implementing improved online services and they got public libraries involved in the process. Age Concern in Tameside, also involved public libraries in their Silver Surfers 2010 event and the event got them a runners-up award in the Silver Surfers competition.
These were just the projects that clearly identified using public libraries in their projects and there were others that focused on digital inclusion, which were just as relevant to the role of libraries eg Raceonline 2012.
Another key idea that kept cropping up was that more council services are going online and therefore more users are going to need online access. Libraries are currently in an ideal position to provide service users with this access free of charge.
I came away from the event not only inspired by the projects local authorities are implementing in their organisations, but also proud that public libraries are able to play a part in so many of them.