§ 16. Mr. Bill O'Brien
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the service currently being provided by public libraries; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
For the first time in 1998 all library authorities were required to prepare an Annual Library Plan. I have sent each library authority both an overall appraisal of the 1998 Annual Library Plans and individual feedback about their own. The vast majority are to be congratulated on their Plans to build on and improve library services we can all be proud of, but I am asking 15 authorities to carry out more work on their Plans and a further 6 authorities to explain proposed cuts in services.
§ 20. Barbara Follett
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how he is encouraging Britain's library service to extend access to the new technologies. 
§ Mr. Hepburn
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to help Britain's library service to extend access to new technologies. 533W
§ Mr. Chris Smith
The Government are committed to ensuring that every public library is connected to the National Grid for Learning through the Public Library IT Network by 2002, where practicable. To this end, £70 million of Lottery funding will be available from the New Opportunities Fund for the development of new digital resources and the provision of ICT training for public library staff together with £6 million from the DCMS/Wolfson Challenge Fund for pathfinder projects to support the development of ICT infrastructure.
The Government are now considering responses to the consultation document 'New Links for the Lottery' which set out proposals for a programme of 'Community Access to Lifelong Learning' which will further support the development of ICT infrastructure for public libraries.