British Library Wi-Fi Access

The British Library refused to show me the contract under which they provide wireless internet services, until I filed a Freedom of Information request. The story was covered by Information World Review.

There is considerable community interest in providing free internet access using cheap wireless technology – groups such as consume.net and Wireless London are active in building these networks, as are forward-thinking local authorities such as Westminster’s Wireless City project. All these “trailblazers” emphasise the extremely low cost of establishing wireless networks. In other major cities, libraries see free internet access as part of their public service remit – the New York Public Library being a prime example.

So why is the British Library, a supposedly free public service financed by public money, charging an outrageous £4.50 an hour for wireless access to their electronic resources?

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4 Responses to “British Library Wi-Fi Access”

  1. john greig says:

    AS in the BBC governor’s case, yet ANOTHER meeting where minutes werent taken.

  2. Now you the humble blog reader can do something about this! http://www.pledgebank.com/britlib

  3. Will van Zwanenberg says:

    The British Library is tragically enamoured of the marketisation philsophy that embues so much of the public sector and of public services in general. The basic thinking is that services such as a pubicly available “free” wifi service should only be introduced if their implmentation can be shown to be cost effective – i.e., can be shown to make profit. Notions of “public good” or of a “public service remit” don’t factor terribly highly within the philosophy that makes up the management of the place. They’re not going to introduce such a service unless they’re forced to do so and with relatively meagre grants available, why would they?

    Even if we forced to have the words: “Sponsored by Microsoft/Tescos/Sainburys/IBM (insert your chosen wretched multinational here …)” emblaozed across all the library’s web pages, if it were free to use, to me this would be acceptable.

  4. t wileman says:

    is there any reason why wifi should be given out free? no not really another example of your greed for a ‘freebie’ and how
    dare anyone refuse you whats you due…

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