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Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
The People's Network
The People's Network
The theme of this issue is the People's Network (PN):
Lottery-funded by the New Opportunities Fund and managed by Resource, the People's Network project is part of the Government's commitment to give everyone in the UK the opportunity to use computers and access the Internet (www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk/).
There are three aspects to the PN. One strand has been infrastructural: to put in place over 4,000 public library ICT learning centres. The social impact of this is already being felt. Peter Brophy's recent initial evaluation found the PN in use for a variety of socially significant and valuable functions, such as to:
keep in touch;
build local culture and community;
reduce social exclusion; and
("The People's Network: a turning point for public libraries", www.resource.gov.uk/documents/pnreport.pdf).
He goes on to say that:
The People's Network appears to be removing the barriers to participation in the information society.
The PN is opening up networked information to a wider audience, breaking down the digital divide.
The PN represents a challenge in change management for public libraries, inviting them to reinvent their role in the community. Thus a second strand in the PN is training of library staff.
The emerging theme of the articles in this issue – and the third strand of the PN – is the intention to build content and services on the new infrastructure. Articles explore some of what is going on: innovative projects and services and local initiatives. The issues and challenges of developing, delivering, managing and sustaining electronic content and services are not small. Yet it is inevitable that the ramifications of the development of the PN, other public library developments and the e-government agenda will be felt throughout the library world in the UK.
Future issues, to appear in 2004
Submissions are welcomed for the following issues planned for next year:
Libraries and digital preservation.