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Public access internet guidance

Our library service provides free public access to the internet in 39 libraries across County Durham, ensuring it fulfils its role as being a source of information and helping with lifelong learning for all.

Your guide to using the internet in libraries

Who may use it?

Access to the internet on public access computers is free to everyone. Users must agree to the conditions of use at the start of each session. Anyone wishing to use the computers must first register as a library member and must always produce their library ticket to be allowed access to the computers.

There are no age restrictions on users, but it is recommended that parents/carers accompany young children. Parents/carers of children, not the library or staff, are responsible for their children's use of the internet through the library connection.

Whenever you finish your internet session please 'exit' from the internet browser. While the machine is booked in your name you are responsible for any searches made or sites accessed.

You should be aware that all searches and sites accessed are logged and can be traced to individual machines and specific times if necessary. Where there is evidence of extreme misuse, the police authorities may be informed.

You must not download any software that permits the viewing of live television broadcasts, regardless of the country of origin. You must also not view live television broadcast, regardless of the country of origin.

How much does it cost?

Access is free at present, but this is reviewed annually. Printing will be charged at the standard rate. Users may bring in their own floppy disks/CD ROMs/USB drives.

How do I book a session?

Use of the computer is via a booking system and sessions may be booked up to two weeks in advance. On-the-spot bookings will be permitted if a machine is free.

You may book a session either by phone, or in person at your local library, or if you are a registered member of the library, you can book via our Library Online system.

A session is half an hour and a maximum of two consecutive sessions may be booked. The number of access sessions available per day, per user, may be established by the library staff; such limitations will be dependent on demand in order to provide access for the majority of users.

If you are late for your booked session your computer will remain available for 10 minutes. After that the session may be offered to another person.

Access is on a self-help basis; however, basic support may be given by staff. Information related to accessing the internet will be provided at all service points. Please inform the library staff if you encounter any problems.

Copying and copyright

Materials obtained or copied may be subject to copyright laws, which govern the making of reproductions of copyrighted works. A work protected by copyright may not be copied without permission. You should therefore ensure that you have the necessary permission before copying material. You may copy information into the Microsoft Office packages but you are advised to further copy any information you have obtained to another medium. The machines are all connected to a managed system which deletes any unauthorised files at the end of the day.

Use of software/hardware

Free email accounts can be obtained from service providers such as Yahoo or Hotmail, for example.

At least one computer in each library is adapted to assist people with disabilities. Each library has a big key keyboard and a trackerball available for public use. One computer in each library has Supernova, Cicero Text Reader and Widget's Writing with Symbols software installed.

You are not allowed to alter or delete software on the computers. If you are found to be causing wilful damage to the hardware or software, you will be refused access to the library facilities. Other than USB drives (memory sticks) and personal headsets, you are not allowed to connect any other piece of hardware to our machines or network.

If you feel there is a problem with some of the cables, please inform a member of staff. If there is a free power socket available, owners may connect their own portable equipment to it, with the permission of the staff, however, owners must cease to use portable equipment if requested to do so by the staff.

Library equipment must not be unplugged at any time.

Durham County Council cannot accept any liability for loss of, or damage to, any hardware, software or data.

Please note, the internet is not a secure medium. You are strongly advised not to input credit card or personal details. If you use the computers to order goods and services, you do so at your own risk. Durham County Council can bear no responsibility for loss of personal data or information while using the public access computer or internet access point.

Unsuitable material

The internet is an unregulated medium and, although measures are taken, Durham County Council cannot accept responsibility for the type of material encountered.

Parents/carers of children, not the library or staff, are responsible for their children's use of the internet, through the library connection. Parents should be especially aware of the dangers of chatrooms. 

Live television broadcasts are regarded as unsuitable material on Durham County Council's public access PCs. Potentially contentious material, for example, pornography, racist, violence, terrorist, etc. is filtered and access is monitored. Should you accidentally find such material, please inform the staff. Should you be found using the public access computer to access, download or print any material, which is deemed unsuitable, it will result in you being refused access to library facilities.

Please note the following bye-laws apply to the use of public access PCs:

a) Library bye-law 22

"No person shall intentionally use a computer upon the library premises (whether or not the computer is library property), to access, view or download any material or image of a pornographic nature that would be likely to cause offence to the general public."

b) Library bye-law 24

"A library officer may exclude any person who contravenes any of the foregoing bye-laws from any or all libraries within the area of and maintained by the library authority under the act."

Unsociable behaviour

  • Users and non-users will respect the privacy of others, and will refrain from attempting to view or read material being used by others.
  • Library staff are authorised to limit, at their own discretion, the number of people gathered around any one terminal.
  • Bullying or any other form of interference in another's use of a terminal will not be tolerated.
  • Users must end their session and leave the terminal when asked to do so by authorised library staff.
  • Users should not disturb others. If sound files are accessed, or the site generates sound then users should bring their own headphones or borrow a set from the library desk.