Students frustrated over alleged lack of library resources

2018-03-28 06:00
A worn-out chair that students have to use in the library’s computer room. PHOTO: byrone athman

A worn-out chair that students have to use in the library’s computer room. PHOTO: byrone athman

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EX-STUDENTS and current students have banded together to express their annoyance at the lack of deteriorating resources that they have to use at the Msunduzi Library.

The library, which offers free usage of its computers and the Internet, is now coming under fire from students whose only option is to use the library computers because they cannot afford their own or to pay for usage at Internet cafes.

Many students complained that the Internet is extremely slow, saying that sometimes it takes 10 minutes just to open the Internet browser.

“We are grateful that we have a place to use for free but most of the time it doesn’t even matter because you try to use these computers and get so fed up that they aren’t working, that you leave,” said Lindelwa Madlala, a second-year University of South Africa student.

Ex-student Thobi Ngwenya, who said he was heart sore that the conditions have not improved much since his days as a student, said that the library is full throughout the week and that there are not nearly enough properly functioning computers to serve the students of Pietermaritzburg who cannot afford to buy their own computers.

“Most of the students who come here cannot afford to go anywhere else and come from far away, only to be made to wait the entire day to get a computer, and then they still have to deal with the slow Internet speed when using them,” said Ngwenya.

Upon a visit to the computer facilities on the first floor of the library, the Maritzburg Fever saw first-hand just how slow the Internet speed is, with the com- puter failing to log onto Google after five minutes of waiting.

It was also evident that students have to make do with worn chairs, some without padding on the backrest and seats, when trying to do assignments.

Ngwenya added that he spoke to some staff members who have complained that their computers are virus ridden and they have logged the complaint with the municipality without receiving a response.

Library services manager Mandla Ntombela said that these complaints are only from a few students and that the rest of the students who use their facilities have not brought forward complaints.

“There are a huge number of students who use our facilities and before this we had only one or two who complained,” said Ntombela. Ntombela said that the library does get overcrowded and said that there are other libraries the students can visit if this library is full.

He put the slow speed of the Internet down to the fact that there are many users logged onto the Internet at one time because many students use their facilities, and said that plans are under way to address the Internet speed.

“We change our furniture every five years and it is unfortunate if our furniture sometimes deteriorates but this is our policy,” said Ntombela.

He concluded by saying that the Bessie Head Library is the only public library in Pietermaritzburg that is open 24 hours a day.

“We cater for our students who need to use our facilities and we are open all the time so that the students can maximise their study time, especially around exam time,” said Ntombela.

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