We had plenty to blog about on our recent holiday and wrote it all up on our trusty lap-top in our caravan. But where to get internet access to upload the blog (and check e-mails) can be a problem. However, something wonderful has been happening in public libraries throughout New Zealand. Since 2008, 120 libraries have joined Phase One of Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa. This provides free access to broadband internet services in public libraries, and is open to anyone, locals and travellers alike. We used this service at Taumaranui, Stratford, Opunake, Hawera, and Waitara. The library staff were very helpful, and showed us to table and chairs, and power points. It was then a simple matter to log on to the Wireless Internet and complete our blog.
A few facts:
This programme was initially funded by the Community Partnership Fund of the New Zealand government’s Digital Strategy and by other government funding through the National Library of New Zealand. It is based on a similar programme in the United Kingdom - The People's Network - which was rolled out through over 4000 public libraries. Funded from the Big Lotteries Fund, The People’s Network provided computers, training and free internet access. It boosted new growth and use of public libraries and was a catalyst for the uptake and development of rich broadband capability in the United Kingdom.
The PCs were always well utilised. Not only by youngsters, we noticed, but older people too are embracing the computer age. Young tourists chatter away face to face in their native language on Skipe. The libraries are certainly getting many more young visitors these days. We certainly appreciate this service as we travel, and hope as time goes by, more and more libraries will join the network.