Innovative new projects to help residents use technology at West Sussex libraries have received a welcome funding boost.
A £178,000 grant from Arts Council England was announced last week and will pay for equipment including tablets and laptops.
Library staff will use this new technology to introduce residents to digital reading and eLibrary services.
One aim of the project is to combat the loneliness experienced by one in four older people in the county.
Staff will be able to demonstrate how online services, like social media, can reduce feelings of isolation.
Lesley Sim, who leads the Library Service at West Sussex County Council, said: “We are delighted that our bid has been successful.
“This is an incredibly exciting, innovative project which will make a real difference to peoples’ lives.
“I would like to express my thanks to the Arts Council England for the opportunity and we look forward to getting started.”
The service will also offer help to jobseekers by introducing them to online job searching and assist people with disabilities by supporting them to use specialist apps that can help with everyday communication.
West Sussex was one of only 30 library services in the country to be successful its bid for the funding.
Hedley Swain, area director for Arts Council England, said: “Libraries are incredible places that have so much to offer their communities, from access to a huge range of resources through to free wifi to keep people connected. But more than that, they present opportunities, and that is really highlighted through this investment.
“As the national development agency for libraries in England, we’re excited to be able to support these libraries as they improve access and opportunities for disadvantaged audiences.
“Digital technology and the skills we need to use it effectively are immeasurably important, both today and in the future, connecting us to the world around us at the touch of a button. It is wonderful to see West Sussex libraries taking a lead in supporting digital literacy through this project, particularly for disadvantaged members of their communities. I hope that this project will help build confidence and support more people to explore the digital landscape and all the opportunities that it brings.”
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