Wheatley Group helps fund new digital centre at Balloch Library

Balloch LibraryBalloch and Haldane residents are enjoying a new state-of-the-art digital learning centre and improved facilities following a £100,000 refurbishment of the area’s library.

The library was officially re-opened following the makeover which has improved the interior and exterior, and also seen the number of computers for public use double.

West Dunbartonshire Council invested £73,000 in the project and Wheatley Group, with Scottish Government partnership funding, contributed £38,000 towards the new Click and Connect digital learning centre.

The centre forms part of the John Wheatley Learning Network - a strategic partnership between Wheatley Group and Glasgow Kelvin College designed to provide access, training and support to those digitally excluded in our communities.

The first centre of its kind outside of Glasgow offers residents free use of 12 computers to access online services. Residents can also access West College Scotland’s online learning facility to undertake courses, and in addition the computers will be used by Working 4U Education Services to deliver a range of IT courses for residents including ‘Digital Friends’.

Library staff will use the computers to deliver Quest IT courses for residents who are keen to update their skills and offer help and advice to those who are unfamiliar with computers. Users will also have free access to Wi-Fi available which is available in all libraries across West Dunbartonshire.

In addition to the digital improvements the front entrance of the library has been redesigned for improved access, and a public toilet has been installed for the first time. The upgrade also includes new floor coverings and redecoration throughout.

Convener of educational services, Councillor Michelle McGinty, said: “The newly refurbished library now provides a fantastic, modern setting where residents can relax, read and research. The new Click and Connect Centre will help residents to access online training and courses as well as employment opportunities. It is important for all residents to have online access to keep up to date and take advantage of modern technology and I would like to thank Wheatley Group for their support in opening this service in Balloch.”

Depute convener of educational services, Councillor John Mooney, said: “I would encourage residents to visit the library and take advantage of the excellent facilities on offer. The library not only offers a fantastic selection of books and other media but space where visitors can read and relax. The new computing section will help residents brush up on their computer skills and open up a whole new online world for residents who don’t have access to a computer at home.”

Evelyn McDowall, digital lead at Wheatley Group, added: “We are delighted to bring Click & Connect to West Dunbartonshire, and give people living here the chance to reap the benefits of being online.

“With more vital services going online, lack of access and understanding of technology can create huge divides. The library’s position at the heart of the community means more opportunities for local people to engage with computers and technology, regardless of their age, ability or resources. We look forward to seeing it flourish.”

Plans are now progressing to offer a Macmillan Cancer drop-in service within Balloch Library from the beginning of April where trained volunteers will be available to provide information and emotional support to anyone affected by cancer.

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