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Internet and Computer Access

Reserve a Computer

To reserve a computer, please call our Library Telephone Service, 608-266-6300 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, 12pm-5pm on Saturday. Library staff will then schedule a reservation for you. Social distancing guidelines may affect availability.

Reservations - limited to one hour, 3 appointments per week - can be made for Monday - Friday, 10am-5:30pm at all locations (except for Monroe Street Library) and Saturday, 12-4:30pm (at Goodman South, Hawthorne, Meadowridge, and Central libraries only).

All participating libraries have one computer that is available for walk-up access, an appointment is not needed, and cannot be reserved in advance. First come, first served. Patrons may alert staff at the front entrance to inquire about availability.

Participating library locations have a room or area that is equipped with a computer that can only be reserved for patrons with young children. Please call our Library Telephone Service, 608-266-6300 for availability.

See below for guidelines related to Library Computers & COVID-19 Safety.

Public Internet Stations FAQ

How many computers do you have available for the public to use?

Due to COVID-19, current availability is limited in order to maintain social distancing. We normally offer over 100 computers for internet access throughout all our libraries, but the number varies at each library.. 

Do you have time limits for computer use?

Yes. Time limits are 1 hour (60 minutes) per person per day at all Madison Public Library locations offering computer access. Some locations may offer time-limit extensions, based on the number of computers available at the moment. You may only use your own card to log in. Inquire with staff if you need access and do not have a library card.

May I reserve a specific computer?

You may reserve a computer by calling our Library Telephone Service, 608-315-5151. You may choose a specific computer, or the first available computer. Social distancing guidelines may affect availability of specific computers.

What if I'm late for my reservation?

Your reservation will be held for fifteen minutes. If you do not log in to your computer within fifteen minutes of your reservation time, you may lose your reservation and those fifteen minutes could be deducted from your total allotted computer time for the day.

May I print from the computers?

Yes. All libraries offer access to a black-and-white laser printer. Printed pages are $.10 per page, even if you bring your own paper.

*UPDATE* During this phase of reopening, you can print up to 25 black-and-white pages for free!

Do you have color printing?

You can print in color at all Madison Public Library locations. There is a $.50 per page charge, even if you bring your own paper.

*UPDATE* During this phase of reopening, you can print up to 10 color pages for free!

How do I save my work?

You may save to or print from a USB flash drive on all public Internet computers. You can also save to an online cloud storage platform such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, Apple's iCloud, and many others. Please note that nothing gets saved permanently to the computer as it erases all documents each time it restarts.

May I check my email?

Yes, as long as you have a web-based email account. The most common free providers are Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail.

Do you offer help or training with specific software?

Our librarians can often provide brief assistance with common programs or basic Internet functions. Some libraries offer one-on-one instruction tailored to your needs. However, during this phase of reopening, tech assistance or training is limited to what staff can provide from social distancing guidelines of 6 feet away.

What are my rights as computer user?

You have the right to unmonitored use, providing you comply with the library's Guidelines for Use of Computers and Computer Networks Policy and Behavior Policy. For more information about customer privacy, see our information sheet on the USA Patriot Act and Madison Public Library Records.

Wireless Access

We are only offering appointments for patrons to use Library computers at this time. Library buildings are not currently open for patrons to bring in and use their own devices on the wireless network. We are working out the logistics of how to offer this service safely.

Library Computers & COVID-19 Safety

Cleaning and Public Health

All staff working library computers receive training and the personal protective equipment necessary to keep themselves, other staff, and the public safe. All employees wear face coverings and practice social distancing according to City of Madison policy and Dane County Public Health Guidelines.

Guidelines for Safe Computer Use

  • All of the building doors remain locked. Staff will admit patrons with computer appointments for their appointed time slot.
  • Patrons are required to wear appropriate face coverings at all times. A face mask will be available for those who need one upon entering. [See Madison and Dane County Public Health requirements on Masks/ Face Coverings]
  • Hand sanitizer is available.
  • Patrons are only allowed in the computer area, restrooms, and the stanchioned/taped walkways leading between these areas.
  • Food is not allowed. Bubblers/drinking fountains are not operational. Bottled water may be available by request.
  • Computers do not come with headphones. Patrons are welcome to bring their own. Staff may be able to provide earbuds.