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Libraries: Electronic Equipment

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL2765, tabled on 15 September 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce loan schemes at libraries for electronic devices to encourage citizens to become more digitally capable.

Answered on

11 October 2021

The provision of public library services in England is a matter for local authorities to determine. The responsibility for libraries in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales rests with the respective devolved administration.

Local authorities in England have a statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. They are responsible for determining the delivery of a modern and efficient library service that meets the requirements of their communities. In considering how best to deliver this statutory duty, each local authority can, if they wish, consider the provision of loaning out electronic devices.

Whilst this is not a matter for the department to require, we understand that the provision of portable devices to lend is something library services are increasingly delivering. We know that at least a quarter of library services in England already provide portable electronic devices for loan, generally targeted to those more likely to be digitally disadvantaged. ​​I learned about an example of this at Manchester Central Library in my visit during Libraries Week.