All our libraries provide free public access computers. This includes access to the internet, web-based email, recommended quality internet sites and Microsoft Office applications. Library members can use the computers for up to 2 hours each day. However, current covid-19 measures mean that computer availability is reduced and sessions are limited to 60 minutes per customer per day at many libraries. Customers are advised to prebook in person or to phone 0300 123 2224 to avoid disappointment. Some libraries may be able to fit in bookings at short notice and /or book additional time.
Don’t forget, you’ll need your library membership number and PIN to access our system. We also provide free Wi-Fi for you to use with your own devices at all our libraries.
The internet access we provide is a filtered service. Web filtering software is used to block a range of websites that are not appropriate for a public library environment.
Despite this, some information may still be of an explicit, controversial and offensive nature, so we urge users to be cautious when browsing.
All our libraries offer free Wi-Fi to members, and visitors can also register for short-term access. It’s available during Library opening hours, although access is currently restricted due to social distancing and may not be available in all Libraries and you may need to book a computer to secure space to use Wi-Fi on a personal device.
Sessions will time out after 60 minutes, but you can log in for as many sessions as you like. Our Wi-Fi is available on a self-help basis, so staff won’t be able to assist you with any issues you have with your own device.
Software and data storage
The software applications available on our computers include Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher) and Libre Office (an open source alternative to Microsoft Office).
We also have Supernova Access Suite available on all PCs. This is software that helps users with visual impairments – features include magnification, text reading and the ability to change the colours shown on screen.
We do not provide data storage and all our computers are set to delete any saved desktop files and web history automatically when you log-out to protect your privacy and data security. This means you will need to save your work to your own portable data storage device (a USB stick or CD-ROM) or to your cloud storage area, for example OneDrive or Google docs.
We cannot guarantee that all devices will be compatible with library computers.
Printing and scanning
Printing is available and charged at a standard rate per sheet. Charges are on display in all libraries and are available on our Fees and charges page.
You can print from our public access computers.
Most libraries have a flatbed scanner available.
Who can use our public computer services
Somerset Library members over 15 can use our full range of computer services. Members of the 7 library services in the LibrariesWest partnership can also use the Somerset public access computers.
Visitors to Somerset Libraries can book public access PCs for up to 2 hours each day, subject to availability and opening hours. Temporary visitor accounts are issued by library staff.
Children and young people
Children under 10 years can use public computers to access Microsoft Office applications and a range of selected websites. They must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when using computers in the library.
10 to 15 year olds may use the full internet service if a parent or legal guardian has signed an Internet Consent form in the presence of library staff. Library staff cannot be held responsible for the information that unaccompanied children aged 10 to 15 access using the internet. Please see the Policy section below.
Booking a computer
You can book up to 2 hours computer use through our automated computer booking system up to 7 days in advance. Time can’t be banked and carried over to other days. If there’s availability on the day, session length may be extended at the discretion of library staff. When booking online yourself, sessions lengths are up to 60 minutes. If you need longer you should make a second booking.
- If you are in a library, ask library staff to reserve a session for you
- Phone Libraries Direct to make a reservation
- If you are logged onto a Library computer, use the ‘Book a Computer’ facility to self-book a future session.
The computer will remain booked for up to 10 minutes beyond the session start time. If you haven’t started your session, the booking is automatically cancelled and will be available to other users. If you arrive early for your session you will be able to log on up to 5 minutes before the session is due to start. The new start time will be recognised by the system so that the length of the session remains the same.
You can cancel the booking yourself from any library computer or contact the library so we can free up the machine for other users.
- Find your reserved computer – booking times will be displayed on the login screens.
- Check the Netloan time on screen, which determines when sessions start and finish. This may be different to your watch, phone or the Library clock.
- Log in using your library membership number and PIN.
- Wait while your login and PIN are being checked and the computer prepared for your use. This can take a few minutes and is part of your session time.
- Keep an eye on the countdown clock which will let you know how long you have left.
Walk up use
We advise you to book a computer to make sure it is available when you need it. However, if you are in a library and need to use a computer you may be able to use one immediately. You can log in to a computer through Netloan using your membership number and PIN if no one else has pre-booked that computer.
If available, a computer screen will display the ‘available until…’ message.
You’ll automatically be given a 60-minute session or the length of time until the next booking, whichever is the shorter.
Sending and receiving information via the Internet is not a secure service. You are advised to be cautious of sending personal details such as address, contact telephone number, date of birth, credit card or debit card details by email since these may be intercepted by third parties.
Be cautious of publishing personal information on websites, including chat rooms and social networking sites.
Be aware that someone you meet online may not be who they appear to be.
Be alert to emails which appear to be from a legitimate source, which ask you to supply personal information which you would not expect.
Be cautious when banking or making purchases online. Ensure that the web site you use is secure with a ‘https’ address and the padlock symbol at the top left of the browser screen.
For extra security, close the browser window when you finish a transaction or log out of your email service.
Always log out when you have finished using the computer.
If you need to walk away from your library computer whilst your session is still running, remember to use the ‘lock computer’ facility (shortcut windows key + L), so that no-one else can access the computer you are working on.
Virus checking software runs constantly on library computers and checks files for computer viruses as they are opened. Our virus software is regularly updated.
Many viruses are circulated as email attachments. If you do not know the sender, be cautious of reading the message or opening an attachment, particularly if it is an unfamiliar file type. If in doubt, delete without reading. We cannot accept responsibility for any computer viruses contracted.
If you do see a virus warning message, please contact a member of staff.
Health and safety
Sitting at a computer for long periods can affect your physical health. You are responsible for your own health and safety, and we encourage you to use the following tips to avoid any problems.
- Adjust your chair and computer screen – your forearms should be approximately horizontal and your eyes the same height as the top of the screen.
- Sit upright and close to the workstation.
- Rest your feet on the floor or use the footrest (if available).
Using a keyboard
- Adjust your keyboard.
- A space in front of the keyboard is sometimes helpful for resting the hands and wrists when not keying.
- Try to keep your wrists straight when keying.
- Keep a soft touch on the keys and do not overstretch your fingers.
Using a mouse
- Position the mouse within easy reach.
- Do not work with your mouse arm stretched.
- Support your forearm on the workstation and do not grip the mouse too tightly.
- Rest your fingers lightly on the buttons
Reading the screen
- Please ask the staff to adjust the window blinds (if available) to avoid glare and bright reflections on the screen.
Posture and breaks
- Try not sit in the same position throughout the period of use of a workstation.
- Change your posture as often as practical.
- Take frequent short breaks rather than fewer long ones.
Computer policy and Wi-fi conditions of use
Everyone who uses the computer facilities in libraries is expected to have read the library service computer policy and accepted its terms and conditions before use.
Policy on the use of public computer services in Somerset Libraries
Computers and the internet – Policy on acceptable use for parents and children
- Somerset Libraries cannot guarantee that the Wi-Fi service will be compatible with any equipment or hardware.
- Somerset Libraries cannot guarantee the availability of Wi-Fi services.
- Somerset Libraries cannot guarantee network speeds or internet availability.
- Free public Wi-Fi is a self-help service and library staff cannot provide technical assistance to customers using the wireless network.
- All internet content is passed through a central web filtering system to safeguard against offensive or illegal material being viewed in the library. Log files of browsing activity are retained so that, as providers of an internet service, Somerset Libraries can respond to official requests for information and comply with legislation such as the Data Protection Act and GDPR.
- Somerset Libraries cannot be held responsible for the privacy or security of your activities. It is strongly recommended that you take due care when transmitting confidential information such as credit card details over the Internet. For more information about online security, visit www.getsafeonline.org
- Somerset Libraries cannot be held responsible for any losses resulting from sending confidential information over the internet, nor from the non-availability of web sites for any reason.
- Somerset Libraries assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment or for laptop configurations, security, or data files resulting from connection to the Wi-Fi facility. Use of the Wi-Fi facility is entirely at your own risk, and we will not accept any liability for any loss of any kind that may arise from you using such equipment on the Wi-Fi facility.
- It is your responsibility to provide antivirus protection for your equipment or hardware. Library staff cannot configure your laptop, wireless adapter or mobile device. We cannot accept responsibility for damage incurred to your equipment or hardware through your failure to protect it through appropriate software or by incomplete security settings.