Reference & Research Help

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How do I find a book?

The online library catalog is available here. If you have a Library card you may use it to renew items, put items on hold, order items not owned by NPL from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan, check fines and the due dates for items you currently have checked out, or update your address. It is not currently possible to pay fines online. If you need assistance with your search, please feel free to call any of our Norfolk Public Library locations.

Can I request a book that's not in your catalog?

If you cannot find a book you need in our online catalog, you may request that a copy be sent from another library system through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Please first confirm that the book is not in our collection. Also, please note that audiovisual material such as DVDs, audiobooks, and books that were published less than 6 months previous to your request are not available for Interlibrary Loan. To request an item from another library:

  1. Click "Not in Catalog?" at the top of the online catalog page.
  2. Click "Interlibrary Loan".
  3. Follow the instructions on the ILL Request page.

Start an Interlibrary Loan search.

ILL items have different loan periods, fines, and renewals. Please read the ILL Policy for more details.

Where can I find information about authors and new books, or read reviews?

For information about authors, new books, reviews, book discussion guides, or to receive monthly updates of new books, visit our Reading Recommendations page. Book reviews are also often available in the catalog record of individual books by viewing the "A Look Inside ..." tab.

Do you have large print books?

Yes. To search for a specific large print book:

  1. In the online catalog, click the “Large Print Book Search” text under the search bars.
  2. On the Large Print search screen, type in the title of the book.
  3. Click the blue search button.

If you would like to see all new Large Print books, click on “New Items at NPL” on the right-hand side of the screen. Then, click on the “Large Print” text in the left-hand column.

Do you offer magazine and newspaper articles online?

Yes, you can find full-text articles from current and archived publications in our online databases, though you must have an NPL card to access most of them.

We also offer online access to the New York Times and our digital magazine service, RBdigital. Once you have created an account using your library card number, you may download unlimited digital copies of popular magazines for free to your computer and mobile devices. RBdigital magazines are always available, never expire and can be stored indefinitely. For instructions and more information visit our eMagazines & Newspapers page.

Do you have downloadable eBooks and/or audiobooks?

Yes. Our eBooks can be searched for in our online catalog, or accessed directly through our multiple providers. Visit our eBooks page for instructions, links, a schedule of eBook classes, and a list of other sources for free downloadable books in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle formats (suitable for iPads, Nooks, Kindle devices as well as other e-readers and smartphones).

Our eAudiobooks can also be searched for in our online catalog, or accessed directly through our eAudiobook providers. Visit the eAudiobooks page for instructions and more checkout information.

How can I get a question answered if I'm not at the library?

For general telephone reference, call the Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch Library Reference staff at 757-441-1750, option 2. We are not currently able to offer general reference via email.

Do you offer reference assistance for genealogy and local history questions?

Yes. Email the Sargeant Memorial Collection staff at

Do you have books in languages other than English?

Yes, we have a small collection of books in Spanish, primarily for children, scattered throughout the branches. We have also  begun collecting new Spanish-language books for adults, primarily at the Mary D. Pretlow Branch. Additionally, in the International Language Collection in Storage we have a small, older collection of books in Spanish, German, French, Italian, with a few in Portuguese, Russian, and a few other languages. Books in Storage may be requested through the online catalog or by contacting any Norfolk Public Library Branch.

Do you have any online historical digital collections?

Yes, we have a growing collection of local history photos and maps in digital format in our Sargeant Memorial Collection.

How do I suggest that the Library purchase an item?

If you'd like to submit a formal request for a title, please fill out a Patron Request Form and drop it off at any Norfolk Public Library branch. When you submit a Patron Request form you may request that we notify you of whether or not we will purchase it, and place a hold on it for you if we do purchase it. For various reasons we are unable to take formal suggestions for purchase via the Internet at this time.


For more information, visit our policy page.  If you have further questions or need assistance, please visit or call one of your local Norfolk Public Library branches. Our librarians are knowledgeable and happy to help.