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Birth of 'London Library Network' with£200k from the National Lottery ...
Birth of 'London Library Network' with£200k from the National Lottery

If a reader in Waltham Forest wants a book that is in Wimbledon, the new

London Library Network will search and find it. Through£200,000 of

National Lottery money from the New Opportunities Fund, London's 395 local

libraries will be joined up to offer a new service to benefit all Londoners.

What's in London's Libraries (WiLL) is a scheme to unite the catalogues and

databases of the capital's library services. A library user can use a

People's Network computer to search throughout all boroughs for a book, for

information, for a tape or CD using WiLL.

London's 33 public library services with an estimated 3.5 million users are

joining forces to provide the most complex collaborative venture of its kind

anywhere in Britain.

The New Opportunities Fund, the largest National Lottery distributor of good

cause money, is funding best-practice library projects in England under the

People's Network Excellence Fund. The People's Network has£100 million

from the New Opportunities Fund across the UK to equip local libraries with

state-of-the-art computer technology to make the Internet accessible to

everyone in the community. The People's Network programme is managed as a

partnership between New Opportunities Fund and Resource: The Council for

Museums, Archives and Libraries.

The fund distributes National Lottery good cause funding to improve quality

of life and tackle disadvantage through grants for education, health and

environment schemes.

Many Londoners feel frustrated that other major cities offer an integrated

service, but an individual currently has access to the services of only

their local library service. Library resources for learning will be

available via a simple and accessible route.

Service by postcode will be a thing of the past as the new WiLL system opens

up London's resources to users no matter where they live. The scheme will

be a strong plank in the social inclusion agenda for the capital.

With six other London projects receiving a total of over£300,000 last

month, the London total for innovative library projects is over half a

million pounds.

David Murray, director of the London Libraries Development Agency, said:

'We are thrilled the project can now go ahead. The capital's libraries are

here to serve Londoners, and when the WiLL scheme is in place everyone will

have equal access to the vast library and information resources available

across almost 400 branches.'

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the New Opportunities Fund, said: 'The

People's Network is reaching out to communities, particularly those who

would not otherwise have access to new technology. The Excellence Fund is

highlighting innovation and schemes that break down barriers of inequality

across regions and neighbourhoods. All Londoners will benefit from this

lottery money.'

David Potts, senior network adviser at Resource, said: 'The London

Libraries Development Agency is to be congratulated on co-ordinating this

remarkably innovative approach on behalf of London's public libraries. Joint

working across local authority boundaries is going to mean an enhanced

service for libraries, and more importantly, wider opportunities for users

to discover the rich resources that those libraries will make available

across the network.'

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