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Using a Computer in Idea Stores


We're returning to normal service, however, to protect our staff and visitors we encourage face coverings to be worn when entering and moving around our buildings, and in lifts. 

All Idea Stores and Libraries in Tower Hamlets have public computers that you can use for free to surf the net, create documents and access your email. Computers can be booked in advance with a choice of computer terminals and locations. Computer booking is open to members only, using their own Idea Store/library borrower card.

PC Usage

Idea Stores offer free PC usage and access to the Internet, however customers are asked to note the following: 
• If listening to audio files customers are required to use headphones
• Do not view anything likely to cause offence or embarrassment, specifically you are forbidden to view pornography 
• Do not use the Internet to act illegally
• Our Pcs do not have CD or DVD drives

Please note that the use of these PCs is monitored in order to ensure these conditions of use are observed and followed.

Please be aware the computers are automatically turned off 15 minutes before closing time.

You can book:

a session for up to 60 minutes 
a maximum of three sessions in one day 
a maximum of five sessions up to seven days in advance 
Each booking is held for ten minutes after the start time. If you do not log-in within that time, your booking for that session will be cancelled.

There are two ways in which you can book a computer:

  • ask a member of staff in the store or library
  • self-bookings via Net Loan at your local Idea Store or library

If you are booking a computer via Net Loan, you will need to enter your membership number for example D000999999 and your PIN number.
Direct Booking and Advance Booking

To access an Idea Stores public access PC you need to do one of the following: 

• If a PC is free (available) then you may go up to the PC and use Direct Booking, enter your card number and PIN, once you do that it will log you on and you can use the PC for up to one hour.  Direct Booking is only available to the over 16s.

• If you wish to continue to use the same PC for more than one hour the system will log you off, however you can continue to use the PC provided no one else has pre-booked the machine. You will need to enter your card number and PIN again.

• If you wish to make an Advance Booking you can do that by using the library catalogue PC (select the option to book a PC), you will require your card and PIN number.

PC time allowance

*Idea Stores customers are allowed up to 120 minutes of PC access per day. 
The time can only be spread over two sessions. If you do not use your 120 minutes within those 2 sessions then they will be lost.

The PC booking system has been configured in such a way that any unused time will carry forward for the remainder of that day. The personal allowance of 120 minutes is reset at the start of each day.

It is understood that there may be a few exceptional occasions when a customer would like to use a public access PC for more than 120 minutes in one day.  As a public service, we endeavour to allow as many customers as possible to use in store PCs.

During busy periods, typically between 4pm and 7pm, staff will rigidly enforce the maximum usage limit of 120 minutes per day. Outside of busy times, if a customer has used all of their allocated time for the day but a PC is available and has not been pre-booked, then the customer may approach a member of staff requesting additional time.  Please do not ask for additional time when it is clear that the PC service is being fully used.

Saving Work

The public access PCs within Idea Stores will allow you to save your work on the Z-drive, but please note all saved work will be lost once the customers PC session has ended.

If you plan to use back-to-back PC sessions, saved work will be lost once the first session ends.  Indeed if your PC session ends unexpectedly (power cut, system reboot, etc) work saved on the Z-drive will also be lost.  Idea Stores staff are powerless to retrieve lost files.

Idea Stores public access PCs do not contain floppy disk drives hence it is not possible to save work onto a floppy disk.  It is advisable to save work at regular intervals on a removable device such as a USB pen drive.

Using USB Memory Sticks

A change in the use of USB sticks by children under 16:

We have computers in all children’s libraries so that children can develop their ICT skills and use the internet to explore useful websites. We particularly promote the use of ICT where it supports reading and learning and encourage the use of relevant resources, such as Junior Britannica, the BBC and The Reading Agency websites, during regular computer club sessions after school.

In Idea Store we have a responsibility to ensure that the infrastructure and technology provide a safe and secure environment for children and young people. The use of technology poses potential dangers to young people:

• There is general risk to children and young people who can be at high risk of addiction to violent games and pornography;
• There is general risk to children and young people with the proliferation of websites aimed at them that promote anorexia, related eating disorders and ‘starving for perfection’;
• There is general risk to children and young people who can be at high risk of exposure to extremist and hate messages.

Because of this, all of our computers for children and young people have additional software to filter inappropriate content and minimise the e-safety risk.  We are aware, however, that it is possible for children to by-pass our filtering systems by bringing in USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory sticks and using these to access material, often illegally downloaded, that would otherwise be unavailable. This means that:

• We cannot guarantee that we provide a safe environment for children and young people;
• Idea Store could be legally responsible for enabling access to illegal or copyright protected material.

So, from 22 June 2015 we will no longer allow use of USB sticks by children under 16—this will apply to all areas.  We will also be blocking and restricting any sort of external mass storage drive being connected to USB ports in all Children’s Libraries.

We understand that some children will want to use USB sticks to copy their homework and other legitimate materials and will no longer be able to do so. In these cases we suggest that from now on they should use i-Cloud or similar systems to save their materials (our staff can assist if necessary).  Alternatively, they can email copies to their own email address (we suggest parents are involved in setting up email addresses for their children, if they don’t have one yet— again, staff can assist in this respect if necessary). 

We recognise that this might cause some inconvenience,  but we hope all children and parents will understand that we must all do our best to guarantee the safety of children.  
Thank you for your co-operation.

Accessible Equipment

Each Idea Stores has a selection of hardware items available for use by customers who have particular needs.  Items available for loan include multi coloured keyboards with large keys, gel wrist supports and PC headphones.  Items are loaned for use with Idea Stores public access PCs and must be returned as soon as the customers PC session has ended.  The text magnification software Supernova is also available on selected PCs.

Web filtering

Access to the Internet is filtered using hardware and software tools. 
Restrictions are in place to prevent access to websites that may cause offence.

FREE Wi-Fi Hotspot

All Idea Stores are Wi-Fi hotspots allowing customers’ free Internet access via a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or device.

Connecting to the Storenet IdeaStore Wi-Fi Network

You will need a wireless enabled mobile device that uses WPA encryption. You can connect using any standard Internet Browser; no additional software is required. You are responsible for the configuration; virus protection and use of your own equipment. Internet access is filtered and access to websites that are deemed to be inappropriate is blocked.

For Apple iPad / iPhone devices:

  • Tap on Settings, then tap on Wi-Fi and select IdeaStore from the list.
  • Enter ideastore2486 as the password.

For Android / Google and devices:

  • Tap on Settings, then tap on Wi-Fi and select IdeaStore from the list
  • Enter ideastore2486 as the password.

For Windows 7, 8 & 10 devices:

  • Click the wireless icon on the bottom right hand system tray.
  • Choose IdeaStore from the list.
  • Enter ideastore2486 as the password.

Idea Stores do not loan Laptops or devices, customers are required to provide their own equipment.

Daily time restrictions do not apply when accessing the Internet via Wi-Fi.  To make a Wi-Fi connection you will require the web proxy settings, please ask at the Helpdesk for an instruction sheet on Wi-Fi access.

Idea Stores staff are not permitted to make changes to the settings on laptops or PDAs, guidance can be provided but customers will need to make the changes themselves.  Wi-Fi Internet access is subject to the same web filtering rules as access via the public surf space PCs.

Dedicated study desks with surge protected power sockets are provided within each Idea Stores.  The power sockets within the study desks are solely provided for customers using laptops or PDAs that require external power. All personal devices should be fitted with a British Standards certified plug.  The sockets within the study desks are the only power sockets that are available for customers to use, please do not use any other power sockets located around the store. You can use our power supply to recharge your device, but priority will be given to people actually using a laptop or PDA. Please note that we take no responsibility if your device gets damaged by power supply.


Each Idea Stores public access PC is connected to a printer.  Print services are chargeable, the cost is based on the number of pages printed and whether the mono or colour printer is used. Printouts are held in a queue and only released once the customer has paid the relevant charge. It is not currently possible for customers using the WiFi service to print via the public access printers.
Printouts - A4 B&W 15p per sheet. A4 Colour 35p per sheet

Eating in the Surfing Space

Having taken on board feedback from recent user surveys, we are kindly asking all our users to refrain from eating food while using our Public Internet PCs. This is in the interest of cleanliness and hygiene.