Find answers to common questions right here, or Ask a Librarian!  For information about account privileges, responsibilities, and limits, please visit the Library Cards page.

+ About searching

From the home page

How do I find a resource that might help me?
Click "Website" and type a topic, resource name, etc. into the search box to see resources described by that word or phrase. This is very helpful if you know the name of the resource you want. Note: This will not search the catalog for items you may borrow. Nor will it find actual articles from within the resources we collect.
How do I find an event?
If you know of a program, but can't remember the details, click "Events" and type the name of a program, or location.
How do I search for a particular type of material to borrow, eg. books, audiobooks, or DVDs?
If you know you only want to look at DVDs, audiobooks, or print books, leave the search box blank and click "Search" so you can see additional categories inside the catalog.  There, you can change the "Everything" drop-down to your preferred format and repeat the search for more focussed results.

From the catalog

How can I find particular material types, not available from the home page?
Choose one of the following options from the drop-down that defaults to "Everything" before typing in your search terms:
  • Everything is the default, and will provide results in all formats, from print book to DVD, and eBook to audiobook.
  • eBooks & eAudio searches will exclude all materials but those available from OverDrive, Axis360, or OneClickDigital.
  • Print & Physical Material is the choice to make if you don't want to see any eBooks or eAudio titles mixed in with your search results.
  • Physical Items can be searched by choosing the material label that matches your needs: books, audiobooks, large print materials, graphic novels, book discussion kits, magazines, or DVDs.
How can I search only a particular field, for example author or ISBN?
Choose on of the following options from the drop-down that defaults to "All Fields" before typing in your search terms:
  • All Fields is a good place to start with an author & title search. For example, if you want only the Star Trek books by a certain author, type star trek byrne. Also, use as a last resort when subject searches haven't paid off.
  • Title is used when you know all or most of the title. Note: one-word-titles with subtitles can be tricky to find if you don't know the subtitle.
  • Author is used to find titles by a specific author. Type in the name, no need to use last name first.
  • Keyword in author headings can be a useful search when you know part of the author's name. Instead of showing you a list of books, it shows a list of authors with similar spellings. This is also helpful if you wish to do some up-front term exclusion. (See below.)
  • Subject is useful when you are confident that you know the exact word or phrase for the subject you're seeking. Keep in mind that this is a "controlled vocabulary" so the term in your head might not match the one used in the catalog.
  • Keyword in subject headings is used to see subject headings with similar spellings to the one you might have chosen, especially if you wish to exclude them in your search. For example: A search for bees shows a list of subjects that includes: beds, beef, and beer. This is helpful if you wish to exclude some terms. (See below.)
  • ISBN is great for when you find a book in a store or article, where the ISBN is listed. It's a quick and exact way to look for a title.
  • Series is a good choice if you're looking for books in a series. Keep in mind that not all records have information in the series field, so results may be spotty.
How can I find more books like the ones I already enjoy or need?
You can look up a book you've enjoyed before and either click on a subject link from within the record, or look at the Read-alikes section toward the bottom of the display. See these instructions (pdf).
What if I want to broaden my search to variations of a root word?
You can try just typing in the root of a set of words to see results for the different options.  If you're not sure whether you want to find mystery, mysteries, or something mysterious, just type myster to allow the catalog to show all the variations. Note: this works best with subject searches.
Why can't I find the book I want by author? I'm copying it directly from the book cover!
The author field is a controlled vocabulary, which means a deciding body has chosen a set name format for a given author, which may not be what he prints on his book covers each time. Try extending the given name to see if it makes a difference, ie. instead of Ben, look for Benjamin.
My book title includes a common phrase. How can I stop getting loads of extra results to my searches when I type the phrase I want?
Place the phrase you want to find inside quotation marks. For example, a title search for The Help returns 494 results, vs. "The Help" returns only 20.
How can I get the catalog to stop showing me items that are one or two letters off from what I'm seeking? I want what I type!
To exclude a word from your search, place a - (hyphen) in front of it with no space. Because the catalog uses fuzzy logic, it will find beds, beef, and beer when you search for bees. Clean up your search by typing: bees -beds -beef -beer. You may also tidy up your search by enclosing your search term in quotation marks.
What are some shortcuts I can take when searching?
Use limiters right in the search box (with hyphen or quotes if appropriate) to bypass the need to choose from the drop-downs, e.g. author=rowling, title="Gone with the wind" or -subject=marmots.

Search result lists

How can I see only titles that are currently on the shelf?
Click Only Show Available in the left column. This button limits your search results to only books that have copies available for checkout, or that are currently in transit to a new location. This limit sticks to your next search, so be sure to click Include Unavailable or the orange "home" icon, so your future searches reveal all.
I only care which books are available in my library. How can I see just those?
Once you have a search result list, choose a Library to include from the left column, then click Only Show Available in the upper left. Note: The order in which you do these steps does seem to make a difference.

+ About the library

What does "Lucky Day" mean in the catalog?
Lucky Day books are extra copies of popular titles on which you are not allowed to place a hold, and once borrowed may not be renewed. You won't find available copies listed in the catalog, so you must stop by the library and look on the shelf to see if it is your Lucky Day.
Does the library have quiet rooms or meeting rooms?
Yes. Each library offers a unique library experience to meet the needs of the local community. Most meeting facilities and quiet rooms can be found in our larger libraries. Check the Public Meeting Rooms page for details, or contact the library you’d like to visit and ask them for information on small study rooms.
Can I bring a group to the library for a tour or presentation about services and resources?
Yes! We are happy to work with you to plan a group visit to any of our locations. Please contact the library of your choice or use the Ask a Librarian form to schedule a visit.
I'd like to have a librarian speak to my group. Is that possible?
We're happy to come to you. Please contact your local library or use the Ask a Librarian form to inquire about scheduling a library employee to talk to your group.
Does the library proctor tests?
FVRL offers limited test proctoring services. View our Proctoring Page for details.
What types of office machines does the library have for patrons to use?
Every FVRL library has internet computers, printers, and scanners/copiers. We do not fax. You may need a USB drive to use some features. You will also need a USB drive to save your work on our public computers. Microfilm readers can be found at Goldendale, White Salmon Valley, Stevenson, Vancouver, and Battle Ground. Vancouver and Stevenson also have a typewriter available for use.
Can I print at the library? Is it free?
You may print up to 10 pages in black and white at no cost each day. The library does not have color printers. Additional pages may be printed for $.10 each by adding funds to your library card. This may be done at a kiosk in the library, or via SmartPay online.
Does the library offer wireless access?  What about wireless printing?
Our wireless internet service is free and does not require a special password. Bring your personal laptop, tablet, or eReader to the library and use the internet without a time limit. The library offers wireless printing from Windows or Mac computers. Read the instructions.
What software is available on the public access computers?
Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher, WinWay Resume, and PDF Reader are available on the eResource computers along with the catalog and eResource collection. Those computers do not have a usage time limit. The internet computers have the same programs, plus full internet access. There is a time limit for using the internet computers--usually starting at 1 hour, but time may be extended if many machines remain unused. For the privacy of our computer users, please download internet content or save personal work to a USB drive or other external device.
What type of services do you have for vision or hearing impaired people?
Our main library in downtown Vancouver has a video phone booth. You will need to have an FVRL library card to use this service.  We offer adaptive technology such as screen readers, magnification, adjustable table height, or opaque magnifiers at Cascade Park, Battle Ground, Goldendale, and Vancouver libraries. (Not all technology is available at each of the listed libraries.)
Do you offer computer classes?
Computer classes and personalized individual instruction are available at the main Vancouver location and select libraries throughout the district. There is no cost to attend, and a schedule can be found in the Events Calendar. Self-paced online tutorials are available any time on the eResources computers at your local library or with your library card number on any internet-enabled computer. Please call or visit your local library for more information.
How can I donate books for book sales?
The Friends of the Library groups affiliated with each of FVRL's libraries accept donations of the following items, in good condition: used hardcover books, used paperback books, audiobooks, DVDs, and commercially-recorded VHS tapes. They are unable to accept magazines currently in print, encyclopedias, or damaged books. These gently-used items are sold by Friends groups and the Library Foundation to raise money to support library district services and programs. Donations can be dropped off at any of our libraries. When donating a large number of items (e.g., several boxes), please contact the FVRL Foundation in advance. FVRLF staff may be able to arrange for the donation to be received at the District Headquarters building and to help unload the materials. Donors can typically get a tax receipt form when they drop off a donation.
I've written a book and would like to donate copies to the library's collection.  What do I do?
Please treat it as a book purchase request. You can use the form to suggest that we add your title to the collection. If you wish to donate copies, please read our Guidelines for Authors and Publishers and send us details.
Can I display my art in the library?
Several FVRL locations have gallery space in which they display art from the community. To learn more and apply to exhibit in the library, submit an application. Please see our Public Bulletin Boards or Displays and Exhibits policies for guidance before contacting your library.
May I distribute my organization's flyers at the library?
Some libraries do have space for community fliers and pamphlets. Please see our Public Bulletin Boards or Displays and Exhibits policies for guidance before contacting your library.

+ About holds, My Account, and more

Holds Instructions

My Account Instructions

My Lists Instructions