Reference Services

Reference service is the main responsibility of the Information Services Department. We maintain a wide variety of reference material on a range of subjects covering the entire spectrum of knowledge. Material from the reference collection does not circulate and is thus available for use in the library whenever needed. In addition to the print collection, we provide access to numerous electronic resources. These resources are listed below and are also available from the library’s home page at These resources can be accessed from any computer, inside or outside the library, with a valid Luzerne County System Card. We provide individual as well as group training in using these resources. Trained librarians are available to answer your questions in person, by telephone or by e-mail. For after-hour service you can always try Ask Here Pa, a 24/7 reference service. You may contact us using one of the following:

Direct Reference: 570-821-1959

For after-hour questions you can send an email or leave a phone message with your question and contact information and you will receive a response on the next business day.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan is one of the many services that the Osterhout Free Library offers for free to our patrons. If you are interested in borrowing an item that the Luzerne County Library System does not own, you can use Interlibrary Loan to borrow an item from outside of our system- from within the continental 48 states.

Who is eligible?

This service is available to all patrons who have current, unexpired, library cards with up to date contact information, who are not on a suspension or ban from Interlibrary Loan services, and who do not have fines exceeding $5.00.

How to request an Interlibrary Loan item:

  • To request an Interlibrary Loan item, you must either call the Osterhout Free Library, or come in to our Information Services Desk. 
  • You must know exactly what item(s) you would like. We do not accept requests for general topics (ex. “I would like books on antique cars.”).
  • Be sure to check the Luzerne County Library System’s catalog before asking to Interlibrary Loan an item

Interlibrary Loan Processing

When a patron requests an item for Interlibrary Loan, the staff will process the request and search for the item. Patrons are allowed to request more than one item- but there is a maximum of 5 requests in the system per patron. 

Interlibrary Loan requests can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to come in. We cannot give patrons the status of their request.

Patrons will be contacted when the item comes in via phone asking them to pick it up. If the item is not able to be obtained, patrons will be notified via mail.

As the Osterhout Free Library is borrowing an item from another library for you, any Interlibrary Loan items you request from us can only be picked up and returned to the Osterhout Free Library. If you wish to renew your Interlibrary Loan item, you must call the Information Services Desk (570-821-1959) at least one week before the due date. Requests for renewal placed within a week of the due date will not be accepted. Renewals are up to the lending library, and are not guaranteed. We do not renew DVDs or music CDs. We also will not request the same item for a patron more than three times.

When the item comes in, it is to be picked up by the date given over the phone. If it is not picked up by this date, it will be sent back to the lending library. Please bring your library card to pick the item up. Interlibrary Loan items must be signed for upon pickup. If you are not able to pick up your own item, you must notify the library that you are giving permission for someone else to pick the item up for you. Interlibrary Loan items must be returned by the due date on the band that is around the book.

Interlibrary Loan Penalties

  • Interlibrary Loan overdue fees are $0.50/day 
  • The following actions will result in a $3.00 per item fine:
    • Returning an Interlibrary Loan item in the book drop.
    • Returning an Interlibrary Loan item to any library other than the Osterhout.
    • Returning an Interlibrary Loan item without the paperwork, including the Interlibrary Loan band with the due date on it. 
  • Failure to return an item will result in suspension of Interlibrary Loan borrowing privileges until the item is paid for or returned. 
  • Repeated failure (3 times) to pick up Interlibrary Loan items within 12 months will result in a three month suspension from Interlibrary Loan services. 
  • If a patron repeatedly (3 times) returns items two or more weeks late within 12 months, Interlibrary Loan privileges will be suspended for three months.
  • Repeated (3 times) loss or damaging of items within 12 months will result in Interlibrary Loan privileges being suspended for 1 year.
  • Should privileges be suspended for any reason, patrons will be notified via letter mailed to the address on file.  While Interlibrary Loan privileges may be suspended, patrons are still welcome to borrow and request items owned by other member libraries in the Luzerne County System. 

Lost/Damaged Interlibrary Loan Items

If you lose or damage an Interlibrary Loan item, you will be billed when we receive the invoice from the lending library. You will be billed for the full cost of the item, as well as any processing fees received from the owning library. As with the county-wide policy, these fines will be added on to your account, and will affect your ability to borrow items within our system. Repeated loss or damage of Interlibrary Loan items can result in temporary or permanent suspension of Interlibrary Loan privileges.


The Osterhout Free Library Does Not Borrow…

  • Textbooks
  • Reference Materials (Magazines, Microfilm, Encyclopedias, etc.)
  • Video Games
  • Computer Software
  • Pornographic Material
  • TV Series/Seasons
  • Language Learning Software (ex. Rosetta Stone)

Holds may be placed on material currently checked out or on order. The only requirement is that the person making the request must have a valid library card with current address and telephone number. Once the items become available, the patron will be notified, usually by phone. The items may be picked up at the Library’s circulation desk within 3 days.

In order to process your request you must have a valid Luzerne County Library System Card with current address and a phone number. To place a hold on the item, please call 821-1959 with the title, author, type of item (book, DVD, large-print book, etc.).

Database Training

The Information Services Department provides individual as well as group training on the use of our electronic resources. To schedule an appointment, please call 821-1959 or send an e-mail to:

Click here to read our Digital Resource Guide.



The Information Services Department provides individual as well as group training on the use of our electronic resources. To schedule an appointment, please call 821-1959 or send an e-mail to:


The Osterhout Free Library is committed to its mission of assuring public access to information and supporting lifelong learning for its users. Providing access to the Internet allows the library to greatly expand its role as information provider. However, before using the Internet at the Osterhout Free Library, you should be aware that:

Not all sources on the Internet provide information that is accurate, complete, current, legal or philosophically acceptable to all citizens. Internet users must evaluate the validity and/or appropriateness of information.

The Osterhout Free Library is unable to control or monitor the content of Internet sites, which change frequently and unpredictably.

Parents and guardians are the best and final judges of what is appropriate for their children and are responsible for their children’s Internet use. Parents are advised to supervise their children’s Internet sessions.

The Osterhout Free Library network and computers does not support certain file types available on the Internet, such as sound or moving images, IRC, instant messaging or chat rooms.

The Library expressly prohibits any use of library computers for illegal activities, or to access material that contains or makes reference to explicit sexual material as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. 5903, is obscene, contains child pornography, or is harmful to minors.

Altering Osterhout Free Library computer settings, removing privacy screens and other activities, which disrupt the library or its network, are prohibited.

Users must have a valid Luzerne County Library System library card and must have their card on their person to use a computer. Your card is required for login to the computer. Staff will not look up and give out patron card numbers.

Patrons who do not reside in Luzerne County are eligible for one guest pass, one time. Patrons MUST present valid photo identification prior to receiving a guest pass.

There is a limit of one session per day of up to 60 minutes duration per cardholder.

Users must type their Luzerne County Library System Library Card barcode number and last name at the “Reservation Station” computer.  Users will be assigned a computer and starting time by the “Reservation Station” computer.  Reservations are made on a first come basis.  At the end of a 60 minute session, user is automatically logged off.

Since our space is limited and increased noise from group conversation is disruptive to others, only two users may gather at a workstation.

Staff assistance is limited.  Staff can show a user where to type in an address (URL) and direct user where to initiate a search.

The Library does not provide email accounts and cannot assist with setting up an email account.

Users may not use their own software.  Flash drives, writable CD’s and floppy discs must be scanned for computer virus at the Information Services desk before using.  This will help prevent computer viruses, which are common on public computers.

The cost of printouts is 20 cents per page.

Failure to use the Internet computer appropriately and responsibly may result in revocation of Internet Use Privileges, Library Privileges and/or Criminal Prosecution.











As required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (“CIPA”), in order to remain eligible for certain federal funding, the Library has implemented software filtering on all of its Internet-accessible computer terminals. The software installed on Internet-accessible computers at the library protects against access to visual depictions of obscenity, child pornography, and, in the case of persons under the age of 17 years, material that are “harmful to minors.” Users should be aware, however, that all currently available filtering software results in a degree of both “under blocking” (i.e., permitting access to certain material that falls within the foregoing categories) and “over blocking” (i.e., denying access to certain constitutionally protected material that does not fall within the foregoing categories). The Library has attempted to select filtering software that best complies with CIPA while providing Library users with the broadest possible access to constitutionally protected speech and information. The Library cannot and does not guarantee that the filtering software will block all obscenity, child pornography, or material that are harmful to minors. Nor can the Library guarantee that the filtering software will not restrict access to sites that may have legitimate research or other value.

Any adult (17 years of older, as defined by CIPA) may request that the filter or technology protection measure be disabled by an authorized Osterhout Free Library staff member without significant delay for the purpose of unfiltered Internet access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.

An authorized Osterhout Free Library staff member may override the filter for a minor (age 16 years or younger, as defined by CIPA) in the event the filter wrongly blocks or filters Internet access to a site with legitimate information value.

The Osterhout Free Library cannot be responsible for any patron’s unauthorized use of a computer with a disabled filter.

The Osterhout Free Library reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

Approved by the Board of Directors June 20, 1997

Revised by the Board of Directors May 21, 1999; October 15, 1999; June 22, 2001; March 22, 2005; November 2007.

  • The Osterhout Free Library Internet Acceptable Use Statement applies to all wireless connections provided by the Library.
  • You must provide your own laptop computer, smart phone or other device with a compatible network card and your own browser software. The Osterhout Free Library provides no guarantee that your equipment will be compatible or that you will be able to make a wireless connection.
  • Username and passwords are provided at the Information Services Desk.
  • Library staff is not able to provide technical assistance for any equipment or connection to the system.
  • The Osterhout Free Library is not responsible for damage to your computer or computer files due to your use of the wireless network.
  • All Internet use through the Library wireless network will be filtered using the same criteria as the filters on the Library’s computers.
  • The Osterhout Free Library’s wireless network is not secure and you must provide your own virus protection. Information sent from your laptop can be captured by anyone with a wireless device and appropriate software.
  • Printing is not available through the Osterhout Free Library network for wireless users.
  • The Library is not responsible for stolen equipment. Please do not leave your device(s) unattended at the Library.
  • The Osterhout Free Library Board of Directors reserves the right to alter this policy without prior notice.
Readers' Advisory

Collection of eBooks and audiobooks
Multiple reviews and an excerpt of carefully selected current books
Book reviews, book awards, poetry, literary criticism, authors and more…

Fiction books reference

New York Times Best Seller List
A compilation of the best seller books by the New York Times

Suggestions for book discussion groups

Romance books reference

Stop, You’re Killing Me!
Title lists of your favorite mystery authors and series characters

Book lists & info from the Young Adult Library Services Association

Websites By Subject

Websites by Subject 

DISCLAIMER: The Osterhout Free Library is not responsible for the content of these websites. They are provided for informational purposes only.