Free internet access has been available since the People’s Network launched in 2002 when a £283,000 lottery grant meant over 70 computers were installed in all nine Portsmouth libraries with ‘super-fast’ internet access.
Currently, there are 116 public-use PCs across the libraries, with another 79 PCs at locations across the city, including The Learning Place, community centres and youth clubs. The library computers have been used for 1,053,570 minutes, in the last six months alone.
At the time of launch, the city’s IT expert for libraries said the People’s Network would “provide many benefits, support educational studies and improve skills to enhance employment prospects.”
On the topic of the vision, Cllr Steve Pitt, the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development said “He was absolutely right, but I think we’ve exceeded even his expectations. Thanks to the free internet, residents can use the computers to complete online courses to further their education, search the web for jobs in the area or even use it to combat loneliness through social media and keeping in touch with family and friends, no matter where they are in the world.”
As the internet has evolved, the library offer has developed too: items can be reserved and renewed online, books are complemented by eBooks and eAudiobooks, library members can stream and download music, as well as read local, national, and international newspapers online, including the Portsmouth News, and hundreds of magazines on food, travel, fashion, music, and film.
The latest development is Princh, the wireless printing facility now offered by Portsmouth libraries, where residents can print their documents for a low cost directly from their own devices.
Libraries are free to join for those who live, work, or learn in Portsmouth. For more information on the services available visit librariesandarchives.portsmouth.gov.uk