FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

These are answers to both our most frequently asked questions and miscellaneous unusual/difficult questions we receive at the Reference Desk. This FAQ will be updated periodically, so please check back for new additions.

Please note that some reference sources mentioned in this FAQ may not be available at every branch. Please check the OPAC or call the branches to determine availability.

How can I find out if your library owns a particular item?
How can I get an item if it is currently checked out?
How can I get an item if your library does not own it?
I need an item ASAP. If you do not own it, where can I go?
Which magazines does your library carry?
How can I find periodical articles on a particular subject?
Do you carry Federal Government Documents?
How can I find an address/phone number for a business or individual?
How can I research a company?
Where can I find Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures?
Can your library give me city directory information over the phone?
I need an obituary from a particular date. Can your library get it for me?
Do you have computers or typewriters for public use?
Can I use your online catalog from my home computer?

Q: How can I find out if your library owns a particular item?

A: Check the Online Public Access Catalog for Petersburg Public Library System holdings. The OPAC will indicate if we own an item, which branch has it, and whether or not it is presently available for borrowing.

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Q: How can I get an item if it is currently checked out?

A: As long as the item is not a current bestseller, new video, or reference material, you can request that it be held for you by placing a hold. We will contact you when the item is returned and then hold it for one week at the Petersburg Library branch of your choice.

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Q: How can I get an item if your library does not own it?

A: You can request that we search for the item at other libraries around the state (and even around the country) by placing an Inter-Library Loan Request. If we find the item, we will have it sent to the Petersburg Library branch of your choice where you can check it out using your Petersburg Public Library card. Availability of some items will depend on the item and the lending policies of participating libraries. Inter-Library Loan service is also available at most other area libraries.

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Q: I need an item ASAP. If you do not own it, where can I go?

A: Your best choice is probably to go to a larger library. The largest public library in the Richmond/Petersburg metropolitan area is the Richmond Public Library. You may also try local colleges such as Virginia State University or Richard Bland College. Each library has its own policies regarding borrowing privileges so be sure to contact them to determine your eligibility.

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Q: Which magazines does your library carry?

A: Magazine subscriptions vary from branch to branch. The Central Library has the largest magazine collection and does not circulate the most current issues. The Rodof Sholom & A.P. Hill branches carry fewer titles.  Check the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) for the titles we carry.

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Q: How can I find periodical articles on a particular subject?

A: Try the online databases.

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Q: Do you carry Federal Government Documents?

A: No. You may want to try the Virginia State University Library.

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Q: How can I find an address/phone number for a business or individual?

A: If you come in to the library, we have several sources for both businesses and individuals:

  • Virginia telephone directories in hardcopy
  • Various business directories

The Internet offers many good sites for this information as well. Check our Links for Adults page for some recommended search engines.

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Q: How can I research a company?

A: Depending on the depth of information you need, there are several sources available at the Central Library as well as a few Internet sites you can use. Some sources just list addresses and telephone numbers, others provide varying depths of information.
Another source for business information is periodical/magazine articles found in the online databases. This is a good alternative for private companies who will not appear in stock reports and other public company sources. The companies, however, would probably need to be fairly large or newsworthy to appear in a periodical article.
Some of these items are also available at other PPLS branches. Check the OPAC for availability.
For publicly-owned companies (those that issue stock):

NYNEX Big Yellow Pages (Internet)

For privately-owned companies

  • Standard and Poor’s Corporate Directory

AnyWho Toll Free Internet Directory (Internet)

Other sources on the Internet

Internet Search Tools (search for a company by name on the Internet)

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Q: Where can I find Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures?

A: The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers World Wide Web access to CPI figures going back to 1913 on the Consumer Price Index page of their Most Requested Series service.

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Q: Can your library give me city directory information over the phone?

A: Yes–but only for the Petersburg vicinity and for a specific name, address or telephone number. We do not give “near-bys. You may also want to take a look at WhoWhere?, an Internet site which offers a Reverse Phone Number Search for the U.S.

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Q: I need an obituary from a particular date. Can your library get it for me?

A: Yes. If you want us to mail it to you, please mail a written request to the Central Library indicating the person’s name and date of death (if known), and include a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you indicate a date of death, we can check the Petersburg Progress-Index.. If you do not have a date of death, we can only check the Progress-Index up to within a few days of the present.

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Q: Do you have computers or typewriters for public use?

A: We do not have typewriters for public use but we do have computers that are equipped with word processing software.

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Q: Can I use your online catalog from my home computer?

A: Yes. You can access the Online Public Access Catalog from home.

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If you have any questions not covered in this list please contact Webmaster at (804) 733-2387 or e-mail at webmaster@ppls.org.