Strong demand for Wi-Fi in public libraries gathers momentum

Recent market research into the penetration of Wi-Fi hotspots in UK Public Libraries reveals that over 80% of library authorities surveyed would like to implement it in all their libraries.


These are some of the conclusions of a comprehensive survey of UK public libraries by Insight Media Internet Ltd, conducted in April and May 2007.


Insight Media, the leading provider of Wi-Fi hotspots to public libraries in the UK, contacted 189 public library authorities and received initial replies from 149 authorities and detailed responses from 114 authorities (over 50%).


The report, “A Review and Evaluation of Wi-Fi services in United Kingdom Public Libraries” shows that the UK is broadly split into three sections: a quarter of libraries have Wi-Fi, one quarter are planning to have Wi-Fi and the remaining half are still not actively planning it.


Providing Wi-Fi facilities in public libraries is relatively new in the UK, starting with just 10, mainly rural, pilots as part of the Libraries Go Wireless initiative in 2004. Now however, a high percentage of libraries currently implementing Wi-Fi are in urban areas where there is greater pressure on the utilisation of services and a higher footfall.


Encouraging an increase in user base and cross sell opportunities

Extending the scope of the library service was the main reason given for having/planning Wi-Fi implementations, which reflects that most implementations have been or are being led by libraries as opposed to IT departments.

Neil Johnson, managing director of Insight Media, says, “With some authorities experiencing declining borrower numbers and serious challenges in attracting new users, it is encouraging to see that over 50% of respondents with Wi-Fi say that it has raised the profile of their library, attracted new users or increased library visitor. That’s really good news for libraries!”

The full report can be downloaded here.