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November 7, 2014

Books in The Cloud – libraries offer free WiFi

13 libraries run by Brighton & Hove City Council are now offering free WiFi access provided by The Cloud.

By Ellie Burns

13 libraries run by Brighton & Hove City Council are now offering free WiFi access provided by The Cloud. Visitors can now utilise free, fast, internet access to online resources including research, e-books, audio books and magazines, plus wider online services including shopping and social media.

The connected world now demands easy access to online resources from devices, with the total number of mobile data connections increasing by 6.5 million (13.3%) in 2013 alone[1].

The Cloud WiFi will help support the services required by modern library goers, while those not experienced in the web can take advantage of the 10 Brighton & Hove libraries providing free IT sessions. Run by volunteers, the sessions will teach IT skills including sending emails and paying bills online.

Jubilee Library, which welcomes over 1 million visitors a year, was the first location to trial WiFi with The Cloud in 2013. The library has seen a 44% growth in device usage year on year, while the number of minutes spent online per month reached over 1 million earlier in the year. Based on this popularity, the Council opted to extend the service to all other libraries.

"Demand for mobile internet access has exploded," explained Russell Phillips, Royal Pavilion, Museums & Libraries ICT Consultant. "This started with laptops and has now expanded with a huge number of visitors using tablets and smartphones. We cannot provide everyone with a PC and the ones we do offer are oversubscribed on a daily basis. By installing WiFi we have found a way to let all our visitors make the most of all the resources available at our libraries, be it digital books, training resources or basic internet access."

Roger Matthews, Commercial Director at The Cloud added "The role that the library plays in society is now more important than ever, and they must continue to preserve and enrich modern culture. However, as culture and society continue to evolve, so too must its libraries. People expect to be always on and connected. The fast uptake of mobile devices, combined with advances in networking technology, are at the heart of this expectation and this is true when people walk into a library. Digital connectivity can and must co-exist with traditional libraries if people are going to reap the full benefits that both have to offer. "

The Cloud provides WiFi connectivity across 30 different libraries in the UK, including libraries in Bridgend, Southampton and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

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