A 24 Hour Librarian At Your Fingertips With The People's Network

By David Prudames | 19 October 2005
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Shows a photo of a small girl using a computer.

A unique range of library services is now available online. © Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

From October 19 2005 wherever you are you can access your local library online thanks to an ambitious new initiative from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

Officially switched on by the Culture Minister, David Lammy, at the Public Libraries Association Conference, Enquire, Discover and Read enable users to get library questions answered, be guided through the web and explore books and reading online.

Managed by MLA, the three new services can be accessed from a single national website at any time of the day or night: www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk.

"In 2002 the People’s Network, led by MLA, gave people broadband access to the Internet bringing public libraries into the 21st century," said Chris Batt, MLA chief executive. "With the launch of Enquire, Discover and Read, from the new People’s Network website, public libraries are delivering valued and trusted services to people 24/7."

Shows a photo of Culture Minister David Lammy bending down to look at a computer screen with two young boys.

Culture Minister David Lammy switched the new service 'on' during the Public Libraries Association Conference on October 19 2005. © Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Together, explained Chris, the schemes aim to make library services more accessible: "Now people can have any question answered, be guided through the web and explore books and reading online at their convenience," he added.

"The People’s Network website will quickly become a useful key for everyone to unlock the power of public libraries online."

Developed in cooperation with partners in Canada and the USA, Enquire works like instant messaging or a chat session: ask a question and there’s a member of library staff online ready to respond to it, 24 hours a day.

Shows a photo of a young woman using a computer.

Library users can now access their local at any time of day or night. © Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Discover offers people the chance to personalise access to a wide range of online resources, including news services and searchable museum, library and archive projects.

Read, meanwhile gives access to a range of online services related to books and reading. The aim is to help people engage with reading and other readers and works with another new People’s Network service called reader2reader, where readers can meet online.

The People's Network has been responsible for installing 32,000 computer terminals in libraries throughout the UK, all offering broadband Internet access.

During 2003 11.7 million user sessions were logged and 105,600 IT training sessions were run in public libraries.

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