Kiss goodbye to you equality *SMILEY FACE*.
This is what Barking and Dagenham library authority state on their website:
From Monday 2 July we will be introducing charges for our public computer service.
The service remains free for people under 20 and over 60
Advance notice of computer charges For members, the daily amount of access will be up to two hours per day and a yearly charge will now apply of
If PC's are available, extra time can be bought by members at £1 per hour
- £12 for residents ( 23p per week)
- £25 for non -residents ( 48p per week)
Please note superfluous apostrophe on "PC's"Guest Usage will be charged at
- £1 for 30 minutes
- £2 for one hour
Why 20 and 60? Were these pulled out of fresh air? Do they think that this softens the blow? Is everybody in-between on a guaranteed, sufficient and stable income? If they are, they probably won't be in the library during 9-5 weekday opening hours. What if you're not using the Internet? Do you still have to pay to use word processing software?
I can't put into words how mental this is.
Funding for library computers came from the People's Network. To receive equipment from an external organisation (funded, I believe through the Lottery and the MLA) and then charge people to use them is insane.
It's bad enough that most libraries charge for reservations and audio books. Perhaps a necessary evil, and it can be argued that these are employed as leisure activities. Charging for the Internet makes a complete mockery of the equality-attempting missions of the public library concept.
You can get free WiFi in a pub, but not free cable internet at a library.
I realise that it's still much cheaper than installing broadband at home, but that is not the point. The point is that by charging anything you are denying people access to things that they cannot get elsewhere.
The government has said that they are aiming to have every Government transaction online by 2014 (see Putting the Frontline First report) I don't know if this is still the plan, but this would leave a lot of people in hot water.
If all public services are administered via equipment and personal services that is unaffordable to a great many people, and through paid internet subscriptions to rent public computers then access to benefits, housing, advice, legal information, voting information and literally EVERYTHING is just denied.
How spectacularly democratic.