Making Connections: Derbyshire Libraries and Digital Inclusion

Wendy Kurcewicz
Wendy Kurcewicz

In today’s digital world people are often told that they will need to ‘go online’ to ‘get things done’, but some don’t know where to start when they have no access to the internet and little or no experience of a computer or the online world. This can result in people feeling fearful and uneasy and becoming digitally excluded.

Derbyshire library staff support people in our libraries to get online via digital help sessions. Staff understand that online tasks and transactions can be difficult and will sit down, listen and help people work at their own pace through the challenges that going online can present, enabling them to unravel what might seem like a maze.

Initially, staff can help with the urgent, more pressing matters – to complete and send off a form, update a Universal Credit account or type up and save a CV in order to apply for a job before the deadline passes. Then, in future sessions, they enable people to move on to connecting with family and friends, finding a better gas and electricity deal, grabbing a bargain and learning how to search effectively online for employment. Eventually, people’s confidence and motivation grows as their digital skills expand. At the same time people forge new friendships with others around them using the library.

Our public libraries are in the heart of our communities and, as safe and trusted spaces, they have always been ideally placed to provide support to the people in their communities. Of course, in recent years this support has evolved to encompass digital and in Derbyshire Libraries, as in many library authorities, we provide access to free computing facilities, free Wi-Fi for those who have their own device and free tailored support to help people make the most of digital.

This support can offer a lifeline to the internet access and assisted digital help that is badly needed by so many. In Derbyshire we also offer some outreach sessions, taking the library service to people in a different way by delivering support in a range of additional community venues such as Job Centres, Adult Education and other community centres. We are working with our Thriving Communities approach to develop different ways of working. We are listening to local people to understand their needs and make the best use of our resources to provide better services and opportunities for residents.

The role we play is vital. It should not be underestimated how important it is to help break down barriers and provide support that can build confidence as well as skills; that unlocks potential and helps prevent people, including the more vulnerable and isolated, from becoming disadvantaged due to a lack of digital access and know-how.

chesterfield library
Chesterfield Public Library

When people are digitally excluded they often find themselves socially and financially excluded too: public libraries can be a gateway to other areas of assistance. Our partnership working with other specialist advice and information partners in Derbyshire communities enables us to refer and signpost to further appropriate support for individuals, which some people may struggle to access on their own. For example, debt or benefits advice, help with mental health issues, adult education information and careers advice.

In these different situations, we are not only connecting people digitally, we are also connecting them to the very real people, services and spaces within their community. Connected support and an holistic approach is key when dealing with such life critical areas, ensuring that people are able to make positive changes for themselves going forward.

This ethos is shared by the Online Centres Network. Supported by the Good Things Foundation, a social change charity, Online Centres can be found across the country, and many are public libraries. Their vision is a world where everyone benefits from digital. I attended the Good Things Foundation Digital Evolution event in November: jam-packed full of ideas and examples of good practice, it was a refreshing and inspirational day.

By the time you read this 2020 will be well under way. For those of us working to support digital inclusion, in Derbyshire Libraries and beyond, the New Year will bring with it continued endeavours to help and encourage people to try new things. For example, setting up and learning how to use email, or downloading eMagazines or eBooks onto a new tablet via Derbyshire Libraries’ free eLending service. Whatever it is, I know that we all share the same New Year’s resolution – to continue to recognise the importance of digital inclusion and provide opportunities for people to become confident, skilled and independent users of digital, as well as providing connected support and helping people to make a real, positive and lasting difference to their own lives.

Wendy Kurcewicz

Senior Librarian, Digital Inclusion

Derbyshire County Council Libraries

Derbyshire County Council Thriving Communities:

Good Things Foundation:

#VoteLibraries this December

A campaign, led by CILIP, the library and information association, is calling on politicians to put local communities at the heart of their election campaigns. The #VoteLibraries campaign enables members of the public to pledge their support for their local library services and put pressure on the candidates in their area to commit to sustainable, long term investment for local library services.

At, library supporters across the UK can sign the pledge to #VoteLibraries, download social media elements, posters and campaign materials to use in their local area, and email their local candidates to encourage them to show their support.

Start 2020 with MmIT: #DigitalInclusion

Each January MmIT runs an afternoon event on a topic of broad interest to LIS professionals, which incorporates our brief AGM from the previous calendar year. We’re beginning 2020 by considering #DigitalInclusion – looking at this from various angles. The full programme will be available shortly.

  • Where: Cilip HQ, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE.
  • When: Thursday 9th January from 13:00-16:30.

Please book via the Cilip website. There is a small fee to attend the four talks which form the event, but any MmIT / Cilip member is welcome to attend the AGM at no cost.


MmIT starts 2018 by considering Future Proofing the Library

On 9th January 2-18, the Multimedia, Information and Technology Group (MmIT) held Future Proofing the Library, our January 2018 half-day seminar, incorporating the MmIT AGM for the 2017 calendar year.

MmIT Chair Andy Tattersall welcomed the delegates to Future Proofing the Library: addressing the issues of today for an innovative tomorrow. 

We also fitted in refreshments and our AGM for the 2017 calendar year.  Many thanks to MmIT members and delegates for contributing to such a lively start to the new year, and to CILIP for hosting us.  You can find the tweets from  the day on our #mmitagm Storify at  



Delivering on Digital: Digital Transformation and the Information Professionals – Workshop Leicester De Montfort 23rd Jun

MmIT Graphic

Following on from our very successful half day event at Newcastle in March and our Webinar in May, we are delivering yet another workshop for MmIT members and non-members.

Digital capabilities are more important than ever within the library and information community and the people they support. Digital capability is essential for all wanting to flourish in modern society and library and information professionals can support this. The half day workshop will explore how library and information professionals can help shape and support these capabilities for the individual, organisation and community. The purpose of the three talks is not only to help professionals provide a better service befitting the 21st Century but also improve their own digital capability skill sets and show value to their organisation.

Kimberlin Library
De Montfort University
The Gateway

Leicester LE1 9BH


MmIT Members – Free
Non MmIT Members £50
Bookings can be made via Eventbrite:


12.00: Registration & networking lunch

12.30 – 12.40: Welcome by MmIT

12.40 – 13.30: Seek Sense and Share: The Information & Knowledge Manager as Change Agent – Virginia Power, University of the West of England.

Information & Knowledge Managers in a library & information service often have responsibility for seeking new opportunities to create a knowledge sharing environment and drive the use of collaborative social media tools to enable broader capture and sharing and promote innovation. They are often key players in the introduction of systems, approaches and processes which capture the intellectual capital of the organization and seek out continuous improvement opportunities. In this lively session we will unpick the role of the Information & Knowledge Manager to discover our digital capabilities using top KM tools and techniques in support of the quest to be a true Change Agent. Come and be prepared to interact!

13.30 – 13.50: Break/ networking (tea, coffee & biscuits)

13.50 – 14.40: A digital research cycle for the 21st Century and how to support it – Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist,  University of Sheffield.

The research cycle is changing dramatically and there are countless new technologies and platforms that academics can use to support their research process. From making their work open and reusable to its wider dissemination, there are a lot of opportunities to shake up the scientific system. For many academics their digital capabilities are not developed to a level to fully engage with these new ways of working. Library and information professionals are embedded in all aspects of this cycle and there are opportunities to be found with the latest developments afforded by technology. The purpose of the talk will be to explore the new research cycle along with opportunities to support it and up-skill the digital academic. In addition show some of the tools and technologies that will ensure academics come to you first when they need help.

14.40 – 15.30: The Horizon Report – Dave Parkes – Director of Library and Learning Services, De Montfort University

David has been involved with the New Media Consortium (NMC) Higher Education Horizon report since 2009 as well as an expert panel member of the more recent NMC Library Horizon Report. The work is an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Every year the Horizon Report identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology tied to essential questions of relevance or policy, leadership, and practice. The three sections of this report constitute a reference and technology-planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. The report discusses the importance of ‘digital fluency’ and how to manage ‘knowledge obsolescence’. David will explore these themes, the implications for libraries and provide an insider guide to the creation of the work.

15.30 – Questions and close

leics workshop copy

CILIP Bursary for a MMIT member to attend the CILIP Conference 2017

CILIP Bursary for a MMIT member to attend the CILIP Conference 2017

CILIP are offering a bursary for a member of MmIT to attend the CILIP Conference 2017 to be held in Manchester 5- 6 July

This bursary place includes access to both days of the conference, lunch, refreshments and all sessions. It also includes a ticket to the evening reception at MOSI on Wednesday 5 July. One nights’ accommodation at Motel One on Wednesday 5 July is also included. Additional nights can be booked at the expense of the SIG or bursary winner.

MMIT will pay travelling expenses up to £100.



Twitter hashtag: #CILIPConf17

The bursary place is intended to promote MMIT, CILIP and the conference. The winner will be asked to play an active role at the conference including tweeting, staffing the MMIT stand and at the end writing up the conference experience for publication in the MMIT Journal.


Candidates must be a member of MMIT and are asked to submit the following:

  • A covering letter of application, detailing your current role and your library/information experience, reasons why you would like to attend the Cilip Conference, and your CILIP membership number.
  • A description of your favourite library technology and how your users benefit from using it (approximately 500 words, this can be on any technology used in the library, hardware, software, apps, social media, digital resources, etc.)

Letter of application and supporting documents need to be sent electronically by 14th April 2017 to

MMIT 2014 Conference keynote speaker Liz McGettigan blogs on augmented reality

Liz McGettigan Read Liz McGettigan’s Cilip blog based on her keynote at the MMIT 2014 conference. She explores issues from augmented reality and public libraries to transliteracy and changing ways of information seeking.

Ask Scotland – online enquiry and real time reference tool

Ask Scotland is a new online reference service managed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and launched today by author/presenter Neil Oliver. Questions submitted via the online enquiry form (on what has to be said is a very nice, clean website design) are answered by qualified librarians within a 48 hour timeframe. There’s also a live chat option to ask questions in real-time.

The new website also links to the Scotland’s Information Tool, complete with interactive map to direct people to their nearest library service.

All in all, it looks to be a great way of promoting the work of public libraries in Scotland.