Getting started

Tablet or laptop?

There are many different kinds of equipment which you can use to access the internet:

  • Desktop computers need to stay put in the same place as they are too large to move around easily.  These are good if you intend to use the computer mostly at home.
  • Laptops offer a lot of flexibility, as they are portable and can be taken outside your home and used in different places.  They can be larger and heavier than tablets though. Laptops work in the same way as a desktop PC, and they have a built in keyboard. 
  • Tablet computers, such as an iPad, have large touch screens and can be used intuitively – no keyboard is required, though you can add a keyboard if you like. Just swipe your hand across the screen, or touch it to select your choices. Adjust text size and volume according to your needs. They are light and small enough to fit in your bag.
  • Smart phones can do everything a standard mobile phone does but they are designed to use the internet and a range of other things. Smart phones tend to be much larger than other kinds of mobile phones and have a touch screen like a tablet.

Where to buy a computer or tablet

You can find most of these items in computer and electrical stores, large supermarkets or department stores. You can also buy smart phones and tablets from most mobile phone providers. There is also a wide range of devices available to buy online.

Connecting to the internet

You can either get the internet installed at home (broadband) or if you decide to get a tablet or smart phone you might be able to access the internet wherever you are – this is called 3G or 4G or mobile internet.

Free filtered Wi-Fi is available in all Richmond upon Thames libraries. Just ask for the password when next you visit a library.

How do I install the internet at home?  

The most popular way of installing the internet at home is have your landline converted to broadband so that it can carry telephone calls and internet data at the same time. If you don’t have a landline or if you want to be able to use the internet when you’re out and about, you might prefer mobile internet from a mobile network provider. However, the connection can be slower and more expensive than broadband through a landline. There are lots of things to consider, such as:

  • Choosing the right service provider for you – this could be the company who already provides your landline telephone or TV
  • Choosing a broadband package  - there will be differences in the speed of the internet for example
  • What is involved in installing a wireless router in your home and what support will the service provider give.

Where to use the internet if you don’t have a computer at home? 

If you don’t own a computer or tablet or don’t have an internet connection at home, you’ll still be able to use the internet. There is a range of places in the borough where you can use the internet for free, including:

People's Network computers and Wi-Fi

We have more than 150 computers available for public use in all Richmond Borough libraries. Free filtered Wi-Fi is also available in all of our libraries. Just ask for the password when next you visit a library. Computer sessions can be booked in advance online or by telephoning your local library.


Civic Centre Atrium

There are three computers available Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm and 9am to 5pm on Fridays. These computers only allow you to access the Councils website.

Richmond Council Civic Centre
Address: Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8891 1411

Castelnau Community Centre

Computers are available Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Castlenau Community Centre
Address: 7 Stillingfleet Road, Barnes, SW13 9AQ
Phone: 020 8741 0909

Useful contacts:

Age UK Richmond Community Services
Phone: 020 8744 1965

Information and Reference Library
Address: Old Town Hall, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond Upon Thames TW9 1TP
Phone: 020 8734 3308

GoLocal for Sheen, Mortlake, Barnes, Twickenham or Whitton
Phone: 020 8973 1877

Community Partnership for Richmond, Kew, Ham, Petersham,Teddington or The Hamptons
Phone: 020 8831 6464