A network of Digital Technology Hubs across our communities

The creation of advanced Technology Hubs throughout Scotland’s network of public libraries would empower communities and ensure equality of access.

By establishing free, readily available Technology Hubs every member of society could benefit from the educational, economic, cultural and social benefits technology offers.

The hubs would feature a range of up-to-date devices -including laptops/PCs, 3D printers, scanners, digital media production hardware, Arduino/littleBits kits, sandbox machines, virtual reality kits – as well as associated industry standard software. The hubs should also offer agile co-working spaces with whiteboards, projectors and appropriate office furniture.

Offering unrestricted access to high-spec kit is already a well–established approach elsewhere, most notably in Scandinavian libraries such as those in Denmark and Sweden. Here, supporting the digital needs of citizens not only offers all in society access to digital, it encourages enterprise. 

Why the contribution is important

Access to the latest technologies will always be a barrier for some individuals and businesses in the continual trade-off between affordability and obsolescence created by the pace of technological change.

Creating an anchor point in communities – offering access to the very latest technologies and appropriate support - equips all citizens with the means to engage in the digital world and be supported in its evolution throughout their lives.

Having access to a form of digital media lab fosters the creation of a more digitally adept society. One which is fully able to participate in and benefit from the personal and economic opportunities of the digital sphere.

Libraries would essentially serve as incubators for small businesses and individuals to explore their creative, social and economic potential. They would have access to all the resources needed to ensure their skills remained current, contributing to both employability and profitability.

Scotland’s public libraries are well-placed to fulfil this role through the existing network of around 500 branches, spanning the length and breadth of the country and serving all types of communities. 

The national strategy for public libraries, Ambition and Opportunity, outlines a role for libraries in hosting such maker spaces and co-working facilities for small businesses.

As a result Scotland’s public libraries are already developing in this area – with all services in Scotland offering access to 3D printers, and a network of specially trained Champions now established to support their use.

There are existing examples of technology hubs in libraries in parts of North America, Scandinavia and elsewhere.

Investing in innovative and aspirational public library Technology Hubs would be a step towards a world class digital economy that is centred on equality of opportunity.

by SLIC on December 02, 2016 at 04:45PM

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