Anger at 3-week loss of libraries’ internet

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COMPUTER users have spoken of their anger at being unable to use free internet access in the city’s libraries – because it has been out of service for three weeks.

“Unforeseen technical problems” have been blamed by the local authority for the issue, which began with an upgrade to the system.

It was only meant to take a matter of days to complete, but job-seekers, people carrying out web-based learning courses, and others who depend on the free internet provided by libraries have been unable to use the service for nearly a month.

Joiner Derek Higgison, 58, from Newhaven, needed the internet to complete an Open University course.

He said: “Three weeks ago a sign went up saying the computers would be down in libraries for three days for an upgrade or something.

“That was fine but since that I’ve been to Central Library, Oxgangs Library and the one at McDonald Road and the problem is still there.

“It’s stopped me getting on with my work and no doubt plenty of others too. I’ve tried phoning to get an answer about when the issue might be fixed, but heard nothing at all, and the staff in the libraries don’t seem to know much about it either.”

The council said it expected the problem to be fixed today, pointing out the system would be vastly improved.

The problem affected more than 400 PCs which were hooked up to the People’s Network facility, an online service provided by public libraries.

Critics have already slammed cuts to library services across the country, pointing out that a more squeezed budget meant problems like this would be exacerbated. Mr Higgison said: “There’s no point in this council spending any more on fancy new computers if they don’t connect them to the internet.

“When you go over to Fife or down to the Borders their libraries have fantastic internet use.”

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city’s culture and leisure leader, said: “We appreciate this temporary loss of internet access is frustrating and we would like to apologise to all our library users for any inconvenience.

“Access to our 421 public access PCs should be restored by today.”