Using Internet Access for Service Continuity amid the Covid-19 Pandemic in the North West Provincial Public Libraries of South Africa
Keywords:Covid-19, business continuity planning, community libraries, internet access, public libraries, South Africa, North West Province
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the many ICT infrastructural challenges entrenched in community libraries. This study determined how public libraries in the North West Province of South Africa could use internet access to continue the provision of information services to clients amid the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. This was guided by key research objectives, namely to ascertain the status of internet access in North West provincial public libraries; determine the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown on services in North West provincial public libraries; and identify ways to use technology for service continuity in these libraries. The study adopted a quantitative research approach and employed a survey design. A questionnaire was used to collect data from a purposive sample of 15 public libraries in the North West Province. This sample was derived from a population of 123 community libraries falling under the provincial Department of Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation. The findings revealed that there was a lack of funding to develop and support the ICT infrastructure in community libraries. It was further revealed that most of the province’s community libraries did not have access to the internet due to expired contracts with internet service providers (ISPs). Furthermore, the study revealed a lack of business continuity planning in community libraries. The study recommended that the province provide funding to community libraries for the development and maintenance of ICT infrastructure. The development of a central point in the province to manage internet access to community libraries was further recommended. It was further recommended that community libraries develop business continuity plans in consultation with stakeholders.
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