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Technology / AI and automation

UK LIBRARIES PLAN INTERNET ACCESS FOR ALL

The UK Library and Information Commission has presented a report entitled New Library: The People’s Network. Its findings suggest that to survive, libraries need to be repositioned as the communications backbone of the information society. Last week the UK government announced its commitment to the National Grid for Learning (CI No 3,262), which involves linking all UK schools to the internet, as well as libraries and eventually museums and art galleries. The library report estimates it will take 770m pounds over a period of seven years, to put the equipment and infrastructure in place, as well as to train staff. It estimates a total of some 40,000 terminals is required, plus printers and network equipment. Chris Smith said the sum needed to fund the recommendations was obviously too large for any one body to fund, and funding would have to be from a mixture of sources including central and local government and the private sector. The minister was present at a meeting last week with Microsoft Corp chief Bill Gates. He would not reveal which avenues of private funding were being considered, although Microsoft has obviously been closely involved in initial talks. The important thing, he said, was to retain the integrity of the library network from a content point of view, and to ensure that no one source dominated content provision. Chris Smith is to report personally to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and promised to respond to the library commission report early in the new year.

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CBR Staff Writer

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