COMPUTERS in the town’s libraries are set to be replaced in a major overhaul of the IT systems aimed at increasing the number of users.

As well as replacing the computers, WiFi is set to be installed in five of the community libraries as well as upgrading many of the self-service machines.

The programme will cost just under £200,000 to implement and is scheduled to be completed in the coming months. It will be funded by a mixture of developer cash, money from the council’s IT budget and some will be borrowed.

Many of the computers operate on Windows XP, which will be unsupported from March, so the 180 public computers will be replaced by 150, recognising that many people have their own devices. WiFi will be put in at North Swindon, Highworth, West Swindon, Moredon and Stratton.

The news has been welcomed by users who say they hope it will encourage people of all generations to visit the libraries.

Shirley Burnham, of the Save Old Town Library Group, said: “This seems good news. Anything which brings more people into the libraries is a positive thing.”

The Cabinet member for libraries Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan) said: “Books remain a big part of libraries but a modern service has so much more.

“I have seen people in libraries doing homework, filling out job applications and soon they will be able to claim benefits using the IT system.

“We always need to improve what is on offer and the cabinet is proposing to invest £200,000 in the service. We are talking about this happening in months so hopefully everything should be in place by the end of March or April.

“Many library users bring their own computers, tablets or Kindles and like to use them in the library. Putting in wi-fi will make this easier.”

The move has been welcomed by the Labour party who believe the addition of wi-fi will allow the library to compete with other establishments.

Coun Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington and Western) said: “This good news and something we have been saying is needed for some time.

“The wi-fi will be a great draw for people who may now choose to go to the libraries, instead of places like Costa or Starbucks which offer it for free.

“What I do think though is that it should be in all libraries. I would love to see it in Even Library where it is not scheduled to go.”