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Mar 10 2013

Library Computers – What’s Harrow Doing?

library_computer_childRegular readers will recall previous articles about library public-access computers not working. In January 2012, 36% were out of order, a figure which increased to 51% by October. Now, as we enter March 2013 – the apparent start of Harrow’s much-trumpeted plan to install new computers into the borough’s libraries, we find that the number of broken computer has increased yet again, upto 60%.

Some libraries are better than others, with, for example, Stanmore having two thirds of its computers working. Others, like the Bob Lawrence library see four out of five broken. In fact, out of the borough’s eleven libraries, four of them have only one or two computers working.

In summary, our of 142 computers, only 57 work.

So, it’s lucky that Harrow have plans to replace them with newer ones. Or should we say, replace them with fewer ones, because those 142 computers will be replaced with just 90 – at a stroke, they’re going to remove a third of those computers, which ultimately means more queues by residents to do things like pay council tax bills, report missed bins, appeal parking tickets and much more as Harrow moves its services online.

The Council tell us that this is because they will be rolling out free wifi into their libraries “later this year” so that people can use their own tablets and laptops. Sure, that’ll be a huge help to Granny Jones, who at 87 years old will now have to either wait longer to report a missed bin, or get herself down to PC World and buy a laptop. Anyway, surely most people would rather decamp to their nearest coffee shop and enjoy a latte whilst reporting aforementioned missed bin? Or a a burger at McDonalds. Or a pint in a local pub?

Oh, and that rollout of new machines that was supposed to happen this month? The council says, “…the roll out of new PCs will not now start in March…” but should “…begin soon.” Still, by driving people out of libraries, at least the Council will be able to close them, saying, hand on heart, “But nobody used them!”

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