FREE access to both computers and the internet at libraries is being introduced by Cumbria County Council.

The local authority has introduced free Wi-Fi across the library network and visitors can now use computers without payment for up to two hours each day and library staff will also help people brush up their IT skills.

Public computers in libraries can be used for a variety of purposes, from searching for jobs, online banking and tracing family trees, to developing IT skills such as word processing, creating spreadsheets, presentations and database applications.

A number of county council services can also be accessed online, including applying for a school place, reporting a highway fault, booking an appointment with a registrar and applying for a blue badge.

Cllr Ian Stewart, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member responsible for Community Services, said: “Libraries in Cumbria are not just about books, they are community hubs offering all sorts of services and activities. I’m delighted our libraries are now providing free access to computers and the internet, which will especially help people who don’t have a laptop or PC at home.

“So much is done online in this digital age, whether it’s searching and applying for jobs, research for school homework or just keeping in touch with family and friends through social media. This valuable free service in our libraries will give more people in Cumbria the opportunity to make the most of the internet."

Free access to PCs and the internet is already benefiting library users across the county. Staff at Kendal deliver about 100 computer sessions every month and are aimed at people who have no previous experience in using digital technology.

And the roll out of the two hours free PC usage pilot in Eden has been a huge success. Compared to the same three month period last year 68 more people have used the PCs and the hours they have been in use has increased by 1,135.