Libraries are community hubs in a digital world


    By Danielle Prostrollo-Hill, Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator, Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service

    Libraries are no longer just about books. Ok – that may be a bit of an overstatement, books are an incredibly important part of libraries and always will be. However, as trusted community hubs in an increasingly digital-first world, libraries play a central role in helping our communities feel comfortable and provide a safe space to learn new skills and try new things. And that’s where Digifest comes in.

    Our month-long, county-wide festival celebrating all-things digital, Digifest is an opportunity for families to visit their nearest Norfolk library branch and have a go with 3D printing, learn a little about technology, and just have fun with different concepts and equipment. We started in 2019 hosting 58 events like Code Club tasters over the half-term break and it has only grown in popularity. This February, we hosted over 100 events including sessions aimed at older members of the family like an introduction to 3D modelling and digital parenting. Digifest works within Norfolk County Council’s Digital Inclusion Strategy and helps young people with the use of creative digital technologies, aiming to inspire them to pursue a career in a digital industry.

    Child using Botley

    It’s exciting to be working with the UEA so families can get a glimpse of what technology can mean to them and with the university’s support we have been able to expand Digifest and develop new offers this year. The incredible knowledge and expertise of staff and students provide our communities with a deeper understanding of technology in all walks of life, including leisure, study and work.

    This year we received a lot of excellent feedback that showcase how beneficial Digifest is. Here are a couple examples from grown-ups and kids:

    I haven't seen [my child] that focused and interested in something for a long time

    …this is a great idea to involve children into the digital world

    “I'm going home and going to do a Harry Potter story and [maybe] next time I [come] I can show you

    Whether it’s giving young people an opportunity to get their hands dirty with basic coding and robotics or helping parents and guardians to understand the evolving digital world, we’re pushing the boat out to develop new programming. There’s a lot to be excited about so keep your eyes peeled for new and exciting events by visiting the library’s What's On page!