WiFi in Public Libraries in England - FAQs Can I apply for installation


WiFi in Public Libraries in England - FAQs

Can I apply for installation of a new broadband line? - Amended

We are not able to cover costs for the installation of a new broadband line between a library space and the local exchange if there isn’t one already. The installation of a new line must be covered by funds from elsewhere. However, if you already have a line or circuit installed but it does not provide a suitable bandwidth for WiFi functionality, you may apply for funding to cover costs relating to the upgrade of it at your site. Funding is for the initial cost of the line upgrade only and funds cannot be used for any ongoing rental or renewal costs.

Our current WiFi meets the recommended technical specification but we’d still like to apply to upgrade, is that ok?

Yes, however the rationale for doing so will have to be strongly evidenced and it is important to note that in the case of over subscription your application will not be a priority for funding.

Who is responsible for ongoing revenue costs?

Ongoing revenue costs will not covered by Arts Council England and responsibility must be agreed locally.

What about library services who have already invested in free WiFi access

– why should they be ‘left out’?

We are aware that many library services have invested before this funding became available. They are to be congratulated. While we are not able to extend the purpose of the funding being managed by the Arts Council to include them, ways are being planned to support some of these services to develop initiatives that benefit from free WiFi provision in which they could be prioritised for funding. The £100k programme announced at this same time as this programme by Tinder and the Taskforce

( http://www.tinderfoundation.org/our-thinking/news/new-library-digital-inclusion-fund ) is one example, and we are exploring further opportunities for a complementary initiative.

Why do you expect libraries to maintain free WiFi access until at least March 2018?

We need to ensure that we spend public finances effectively. We appreciate that unexpected closures can occur, and therefore ask you to have a satisfactory plan in place for deployment of the assets if necessary.

We currently have WiFi in our library but it doesn’t provide full coverage to the space. In this instance would our application be considered a new installation or an upgrade?

As you already have some element of free WiFi provision in your library space, this would be considered as an upgrade as you are improving the service that is already provided.

We have a library that shares a space with another service and we want to install

WiFi into the full building. Can I apply for funding to cover this?

You can only apply for funding for the installation of WiFi provision in a library space. Any

WiFi provision you wish to install that sits outside of the library space must be covered by other sources of funding.

What do you mean by libraries within our ‘usual’ provision?

By this we mean the range of library service provision which you deploy as a local authority in order to meet your obligations under the requirements of the1964 Public

Libraries Act. So this isn’t necessarily just the services that you provide directly but may include services you commission another organisation to supply on your behalf, or services you provide in partnership with an organisation such as a volunteer or community group. If you are planning to include installation in community or volunteer libraries then we will need you to identify those at application stage. If successful you will need to provide evidence that you have partnership agreements in place and that there is an arrangement of who will bear the ongoing revenue costs of the WiFi.

In the technical specification you say that passwords should not be used if a captive portal is deployed, however it is our authority’s policy to include one. Does this mean that we can’t apply?

We have a strong preference that where possible passwords should not be used when connecting to the WiFi in order to enable ease of access and use, however we appreciate that authorities may have internal policies that differ to this. The technical specification is therefore a recommendation rather than a mandatory solution and applicants should bear individual requirements in mind when discussing potential provision with their IT service provider.

Will ACE be offering technical support?

No, however in partnership with SCL we are setting up a support network for applicants, which includes library services who have already gone through this process. Please contact our Customer Services team for more information. We recommend as a first step that you consult with your IT department.

Will ACE be supplying an invitation to tender template or guidance for local authorities to use during the procurement process?

It is up to each individual authority to follow their local procurement processes and to seek advice from their IT and finance departments to identify the solution appropriate to their circumstances. We are unable to supply a template for authorities to use, although the

‘Guidance for applicants’ sets out the minimum standards and technical specifications for

WiFi Internet access in libraries as recommended by the Government Digital Service.

What is state aid?

‘State aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU)’ (Gov.uk). Local authorities must ensure that use of the grant

and all associated procurement processes and contractual terms used in connection with the project are compatible with the State Aid Rules and requirements. This should include, but not be limited to, ensuring any contract and/or any changes permitted to or in connection with any contract do not give rise to any breach of the State Aid Rules. Further information regarding State Aid Rules can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/state-aid . We recommend that you talk to your Finance department.

Why is the time given for application less than usual?

As the funding is Government capital Grant-In-Aid it must be spent within this financial year. In order to ensure that local authorities have as long as possible for implementation of WiFi, we have kept the application and our assessment process short. We have tried to create systems that will make the process as simple and as streamlined as possible.

We are a commissioned service provider; can we make an application without reference to the local authority?

No, we expect the application to come from the local authority. Please note that it can be produced in collaboration, and any management, implementation and financial arrangements can be delegated to you. However if this raises particular issues to your application please let us know.

We’re concerned that our IT supplier won’t be able to implement the installation by

31 March 2016.

You need to talk to your supplier and get a commitment from them that they can supply by

March 2016. If you have any concerns about this please address them in the risk section of your application and describe how you will mitigate against this.

Is it ok to exceed the recommended technical specification?

Yes, however please keep in mind that your specification should reflect the individual requirements for your authority. If there is a pressure on funds we will need to balance the value for money considerations against other applications.

Updated 18 August 2015