Libraries Give Vital PC Access through the Lockdown

“Libraries’ online services have taken the spotlight over this lockdown period, providing much needed community support, information and (not least) some light-hearted distractions. New memberships to use ebooks and other digital services are up 600% on this time last year. But while this is wonderful news, there are two notable things to consider.

Firstly, libraries’ physical buildings, their resources and staff are still sorely missed by many of their users and their reopening will be warmly welcomed. While online networks and tools have been the saving grace for many of us under lockdown, they are not in reach for everyone. Concern about the digital divide featured strongly in the ‘Digital Thinkin’ hosted by Libraries Connected and Tortoise this week. As some attendees commented:

“The danger lies in thinking technology can replace what we normally do. A lot of people only have a smartphone, not a computer. Rhymetimes online then are not really viable.”

“We need to remember the digital divide e.g. 1 million children with nothing suitable for online homework (laptops, internet), and a 1/3 of 16-24 year olds with mobiles only.””