British Library and wireless

The introduction of wireless networking at the British Library has been noticed in several places. More interesting than the announcement itself, I thought, were some of the findings from their market research.

John De Lucy, the Library's Head of Estates and Facilities, commissioned Building Zones, consultants in providing technology that changes the way people use buildings, to undertake a user study with the aim of identifying the computing equipment that visitors were bringing to the Library and their needs for wireless Internet connectivity. The study revealed the following:
  • Laptop ownership amongst visitors was a staggering 86 per cent
  • The average dwell-time in the building was six hours
  • Users were leaving the library to go to a nearby Internet caf´┐Ż to access their email
  • 16 per cent of the visitors only came to the library to sit down, have a coffee and use the library as a business centre
The conclusion from the survey was that there was an overwhelming demand for the service. Email was the most requested application and visitors preferred to access this from their own equipment rather than a fixed terminal. Continued access to the British Library catalogue was also a requirement. [Press Release - The British Library goes Wireless]

Comments: 0

Nov 20, 2004
Rosario Garza

Interesting study and even more interesting results. Has any other library of this type (e.g., Library of Congress or similar) done such a study also? And, what does this mean for your average public library or academic library?