Starting this November and continuing during the next few months the rollout of over 500 new public access computers with the latest Windows 10 software will be installed in some libraries to replace the current equipment, whilst the remainder will have their software upgraded.
Most libraries will get new computers. The most recently reopened libraries already have modern computers but will have their software upgraded. This will happen at Lytham, Cleveleys, Chatburn, Pike Hill, St. Anne’s and Bamber Bridge libraries.
Minimal disruption is expected as the work is planned to take place when libraries are closed as far as possible.
Public Wi-Fi and broadband speed will also be improved, to cope with increasing levels of use.
New flatbed scanners will also be fitted to improve printing capability. Members of the public will be able to use a range of low-cost network printers at all libraries as well as enabling them to use their own devices to print using public Wi-Fi.
Library staff and Digital Champion volunteers will be on hand to help people to use the new software.
Libraries will continue to offer weekly sessions supporting people to learn digital skills.
The improved software will also benefit activities including pop-up 3D printing workshops and maker sessions with robotics, coding and electronics.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “This is a really exciting time for our libraries. It is vital they adapt to meet the demands and needs of how people want to use them.
“An increasing number of customers are using library computers or bringing their own devices and using our libraries as a work space. Our computers are used about 45,000 times every month so we need to make sure that the computer equipment is up-to-date with fast internet connectivity and good Wi-Fi availability.
“The county council’s library network enables everyone to have free access to a computer and the internet – something that is essential in the modern age. When the new computers and printers are installed, we hope that even more people will visit and use our much valued libraries.
“Libraries are so much more than somewhere to go to borrow a book.”
Pauline Dawber, a customer at Leyland Library, said: “I had never used a computer, and didn’t know how to, when a friend suggested that I go to my local library to learn.
“I initially joined the basic digital course and quickly learned how to use the keyboard, how to search for jobs, how to keep safe online and to use email.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning in such a friendly environment. I’ve not had to learn something that was so daunting to me alone and have felt really supported to learn.
“It’s fantastic that I’m now able to email my family who live overseas, and I’m also using the internet to try to find my sister.
“This just wasn’t possible for me to do before I learned how to use the internet.”
Anyone who lives in the UK can join a Lancashire library, either online or by visiting in person. Membership is free and there are no age restrictions.
• For more information, go to www.lancashire.gov.uk/libraries | Alternatively call 0300 123 6703.