RESIDENTS are being encouraged to boost their digital skills this month as libraries across the county support All Digital Week, which runs from Monday, March 22 to Sunday, March 28.

All Digital Week is the annual digital inclusion and empowerment campaign that aims to help people develop their digital knowledge and be inspired by what technology can do for them.

Although libraries are currently closed due the national lockdown, people can still get involved in the initiative by improving their digital skills remotely and accessing services online. Once libraries are allowed to reopen there will be even more support available to residents.

As well as providing access to eBooks, eAudio, eNewspapers, and eMagazines online, East Sussex libraries offer an extensive selection of digital services ranging from IT support and qualifications, to wellbeing information and fun resources for children.

Cllr Bill Bentley, lead member for communities and safety, said: “I am delighted that our libraries are supporting All Digital Week, even with the current lockdown restrictions in place.

“Despite digital expertise being more important than ever, nearly 12 million people in the UK do not have the essential digital skills needed for day-to-day life, and over 4 million adults are considered to be ‘offline’. This means many people are not able to access the vast array of information and support that is available online.

“I would encourage residents to take full advantage of the digital services offered by our libraries so they can improve their digital skills and learn how to incorporate digital technology more easily into their lives.”

Cllr Bentley added: “Residents should continue to be aware of online scams and fraud. If you suspect anything, please contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. You won’t be wasting anybody’s time, even if it ends up being nothing suspicious.”

Digital services offered across East Sussex libraries include:

  • IT for You at home – telephone support from volunteers with email, using the internet, creating documents, applying for work and much more
  • Learning Services – study for a qualification online, from home
  • Business and employability resources – access business books, resources and programmes
  • Virtual Wellbeing Bags – information, tips and resources to help improve emotional, mental and physical wellbeing
  • Virtual Classroom – library skills and resources available online for teachers and children
  • Online book clubs for adults and children

During the current lockdown, residents are also able to visit their local library for essential computer use. Computer sessions must be pre-booked and can be used for job applications, to access Universal Credit or Jobseekers Allowance information or for online banking.

In addition, Job Pods are available at Eastbourne and Hastings libraries. Residents can book a private area in the library for online interviews if they do not have access to the appropriate space at home.

For more information about all the digital services available at East Sussex libraries visit https://eastsussex.spydus.co.uk/.

The libraries team can be contacted via the East Sussex County Council website at https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries/form-enquiry.

Residents can also get support by phone. General library information is available by calling 0345 60 80 196, and IT For You can be contacted on 01323 463759.

Information on how to book a library computer for essential use can be found at https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/libraries/online