Reasons for, and consequences of, free versus regulated access to the internet have been lively debated in recent times, primarily in relation to social media and school as a context. For public libraries, questions connected to ideologies and human rights regarding freedom of access to information and freedom of expression and opinion on the one hand, and practical, political conditions for public provision of internet access on the other, constitute important and complex issues. Through new additions in the Swedish Public and Secrecy Act (OSL 2009: 400, ch. 40, § 3) of January 1st, 2018, secrecy regarding individuals’ use of information technology in libraries and questions concerning the public library’s role and position in these matters become topical once again and in partly new ways.
In the project Internet use in libraries, these questions of internet provision and accessibility in public libraries in Sweden are examined in a context that includes both ideological frameworks and manifestos, as well as wifi agreements, system solutions and regulations at municipal level. The purpose is to provide a survey of the use of wifi and public computers in public libraries in Sweden, identify the conditions and practical strategies that exist, and discuss how these affect the availability of internet on public libraries.
Data is collected through questionnaires, interviews and document studies. The results of the project will be published as a freely available research report and used by the project owner Kultur i Väst, together with the Regional Library Halland and Biblioteksutveckling Sörmland, for further work on the preparation of educational material with information and recommendations for public libraries on internet and wifi in the library's premises.
The project is carried out on behalf of the project owner and financier Kultur i Väst.