Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
£3m grant for library computer network
The government is promoting Internet access for all
Public libraries will receive almost £3m to help them connect to the planned National Grid for Learning, an educational network of computers.
The scheme is part of the Prime Minister Tony Blair's aim to make Internet access more easily available to all.
It means 21 information technology projects will be set up in libraries across England using grants of between £49,900 and £498,000 from the Public Libraries Challenge Fund.
The fund is run by the Wolfson Foundation, a charity set up in 1955, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It aims to connect all public libraries to an educational network of computers by 2002.
A prototype of the National Grid for Learning was launched by Education Minister David Blunkett in January 1998.
It includes materials on the government's initiative to boost reading and writing skills in schoolchildren - and a virtual language centre called Lingu@Net.
The prototype is being tested by teachers in 1,000 schools and specially commissioned focus groups until the autumn.
During that period, material and services covering many areas of learning in and beyond schools will be added.
Commenting on the Public Library Challenge Fund's grants, Arts Minister Alan Howarth said: "If libraries are to retain and develop their role as key community resources into the next century, it is vital that they seize the opportunities provided by new technology to create new sources of information."
Some of the projects will benefit deprived urban communities, while others will extend or develop networks in rural areas.
Public Libraries Challenge Fund Grants
North of England