By Dumisani Nyoni
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has bemoaned low uptake of internet services offered in some of its libraries in the city.
According to the latest council minutes, Bulawayo citizens were not adequately using internet services offered by council in its libraries, leading to the local authority incurring costs of running the services.
BCC runs nine libraries city wide with Entumbane makeshift set to open soon.
“The need to use Information and Communications Technology in the libraries cannot be over emphasised and yet only three libraries that is Mzilikazi Memorial, Nketa and Tshabalala are offering internet services,” reads the minutes.
Mzilikazi library was the first to offer the service in 2011 through a partnership with Old Mutual who funded the setting up of an internet. Nketa and Tshabalala followed respectively to offer the service through the installation of ADSL from the Ward Retention Programme.
“Currently, the users pay for the access to the internet/wifi a flat fee of $1.00 per hour. Council has been funding the payment of monthly ADSL charges of $89.00 per library (Nketa and Tshabalala) but the uptake of the service has been proving expensive to run the service,” read the minutes.
“More money is spent than money what is realized from the sale of tokens. Nketa Library installed their ADSL in December 2017 and to date have paid $267.00 for wi-fi but only received $39.00 from users. In Tshabalala library only $89 has been paid for ADSL but a mere $2 received from users for the service to date. This is costly to Council and as such it is proposed that permission be given to Bulawayo Municipal Library Service (BMLS) to engage Telone to install public wifi services in all the Council libraries.”
BCC said the installation costs will be borne by Telone. Users will buy tokens at $1 for the whole day which is cheaper than the current $1 per hour. In turn, council will receive a commission of 5% per token from Telone.
“The nine municipal libraries currently provide library and information services to residents in high density suburbs of Bulawayo. The service is envisaged to expand to all suburbs in an effort to provide information services to all,” council said.
BCC said on the average each library serves over 100 users per day and the whole BMLS serves 260 000 users annually.
The users range from primary, secondary, college, university, professionals and the general public. Providing access to an affordable WI-FI service will enable BMLS to avoid inconveniencing users who are forced to relocate when either reading, studying or researching seeking for places with inexpensive internet.
“BMLS believes that such a service will meet the needs expressed by residents for affordable access to internet. They will also use library facilities which are convenient for them and their children whenever they come to use the library.”