Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Library Catalogue   

How can I stop getting warning notices when I log in to My Library Card? 

If you're using Internet Explorer and get a message starting "A script accessing some software...", follow these steps:

  • choose "Tools"
  • then "Internet Options"
  • click on the "Security" tab
  • choose "Internet", then "Custom Level"
  • change the setting for "Script activex controls marked safe for scripting" to ENABLE
  • click YES to save settings
  • restart Internet Explorer for changes to take effect

If you're using Internet Explorer and get a message starting "Security Information:  This page contains...", follow these steps:

  • choose "Tools"
  • then "Internet Options"
  • click on the "Security" tab
  • choose "Internet", then "Custom Level"
  • change the setting for "Display Mixed Content" to ENABLE
  • click YES to save settings
  • restart Internet Explorer for changes to take effect

How do I log in to your system to renew books and place holds?

  • From any page on our web site, click on "LIBRARY CARD" on the top right of the screen, and enter your library card number (under the lines on the front of your starts with 29341)
  • if this is your first time logging in, enter your PHONE NUMBER (with the area code and dashes...for example: 807-123-4567), or your birth date
  • you will then be prompted to “Please enter a new PIN“
  • type in something that is easy for you to remember (at least four characters long, can be letters and numbers)
  • the next time you log in, you will need to use your PIN, not your phone number

I forgot my PIN -- help!

  • don't panic, click the "Forgot your PIN" on the Library Card log in screen, fill in the information asked for, and if you have an email address in your patron record you'll receive an email right away with instructions for how to change your PIN
  • if you don't have an email address and forget your PIN we can go into your record and delete it for you, then you can log in again using your phone number or birth date, and then set a new PIN;
    your PIN shows up in your record in an encrypted format, so staff cannot simply tell you what it is, but they are able to delete it and that allows you to set a new PIN

I have some books on hold, and I'm worried they will come in when I'm on vacation.

  •  don't worry...simply call any Community Hub and ask to be moved down the hold list

Can I save a list of books and movies that I want to put on hold in the future?

  • yes! 
  • when you find something you would like to save, use the "put in book cart" button
  • when you're done, view your book cart
  • you can then save to a disc, email yourself the list, or create and name a list to save in your "My Library Card" account
  • then, you can use that list for future reference

If you have any further questions which have not been answered here, please don't hesitate to contact the Library by email to or use this form.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you now have IPads at each library (children's department)?
For many years, the children's areas at each Community Hub have included two to four PCs loaded with educational CD-ROM activities and games exclusively for children's use. In 2018, we decided it was past time to replace the outdated CD-ROM technology with new tablets featuring a variety of educational and recreational apps. The former computers in the children's area and the new iPads are part of the Library's commitment to digital literacy - a type of literacy that plays an increasingly large role in student educational experiences. Schools are often using tablets and touch-screen technology in classrooms starting at an early age, and most kids will be familiar with the basics. By making iPads available at the Library, we are encouraging the development of digital literacy skills and offering access to kids who may not have it at home. This gap in technological access is called the digital divide, and our computers and printing stations meet the same need for older children and adults. 

While we focus on alphanumeric literacy in most of our children's programs, we are also committed to promoting and facilitating opportunities for development of other kinds of literacy and STEM skills. Examples can be seen on our website and include our new Google CS First Club for tweens and teens, which teaches computer science and programming languages, and Northern Nature Trading, our ongoing "nature swap shop" run in partnership with Science North. The one-on-one computer tech help appointments offered by our staff are another example.     

Can I return my books to any Library?

Yes!  Books, magazines, movies and music you borrow from the Library may be returned at any Community Hub.  

What is PC Booking and how does it work?

PC Booking is an automated system that enables you to reserve a library computer from the Library's Web site or at any Community Hub.  All one hour Internet PCs are booked using this new system. 

What is a virtual library?

The term virtual distinguishes something that is merely conceptual from something that has physical reality.  So, a virtual library is a library which has no physical existence, being constructed solely in electronic form or on paper.

How old does my child have to be to get a Library card?

You can decide when it is the right time to get a card for your child. There is no Library age limit. Parents will need to sign the registration form for children.

How can I search for NEW items the library has acquired?

Check out the “Featured Lists“, from the first page of the library catalogue.  These lists are updated weekly.

Why are some DVDs so difficult to remove from the case?

DVDs come in a variety of cases.  You have to read the instructions on the inside of each case.  Most have a push button in the middle.  When you push the button, the DVD pops out.  Others have a lift slot on the side that guides you to pull up on the side of the DVD and lift it out.

What are graphic novels?

Graphic novels are book-length comics that have developed into a unique art form. 

Do I need a library card to use the Internet at the Library?

Yes and no.  Patrons of the Thunder Bay Public Library use their library card and PIN to log onto or pre-book a one hour station.  The express 15 minute stations are not bookable but do require the use of a library card and PIN to log on.  Visitors are issued a temporary Internet pass (not a library card) to use the Internet stations.

Can I pre-book an Internet station?

Yes.  This applies to the one hour stations only.

How much time is allowed for each Internet session?

Sessions are a maximum of one hour for the bookable machines.  The express stations are 15 minutes.  You are allowed 1 hour per person per day.  There is no guarantee that you will receive a full 1 hour per day. 

How old does my child have to be before he/she gets a library card?

We place no age restrictions on getting a library card. Parents may decide to get one for their child at any age.  Many parents wait until the child is old enough to write his/her own name. But, as with any contract, all children under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign for them, accepting responsibility on the child's behalf.

How much does it cost for a library card?

Getting a library card is free if you live in the City or pay property taxes in the City of Thunder Bay.  A non-resident fee applies to those who live outside the city (with the exception of students 18 and under who attend elementary or high school in Thunder Bay - these students also receive free library cards. 

I placed a hold on John Grisham's new novel over 3 months ago.  Why does the computer say it is still 'on order'? Are you ever going to get it?

The Library orders titles months before the actual item is released.  Many publishers announce upcoming titles and accept pre-orders to help them determine how many copies to print.  If a title appears to be popular, they will print more copies.  Conversely, sometimes the title is cancelled because of lack of interest. It is not uncommon for us to order a title in March that isn't due to be released until September! 

What is a “hold“?

When you place an item on “hold” at the library, it places your name on a waiting list of those who wish to check out the title.  A hold will also bring a title to your selected Community Hub from another Community Hub of the library.  If you place a hold on an item and the person who currently has it wishes to renew it, they will not be allowed to do so because the hold will prevent the renewal.  You will be called by an automated voice system when your hold is available.  You have 3 days in which to pick up your hold.  You may place a hold at any public service desk, at the library computers, or from home via the library's web site.

Why do you have to have tickets for a show at the library?

Our public spaces and auditoriums have fire code restrictions on the audience size and so we need to keep the number of persons at a show under that number.  We think it's important to promote safety and have a guaranteed seat for a performance than to be turned away because you were at the end of the line on the day of the show. Recognizing both safety and not wanting to limit children's access to available library programming we are exploring creative approaches to the ticketing process which allows for more flexibility in scheduling such as additional standby times to handle any large demand for a performances.  Look forward to these changes in the near future. We believe we should do everything possible to ensure child safety as well as not turning away any child needlessly from a library program.

Why can't I return items to the library through the book drops when the library is open?

At the County Park Community Hub and Mary J.L. Black Community Hub, you may return books to the library using the book drop outside the library on a 24 hour basis.   However, at each of our other Community Hubs, design constraints prevent us from offering this service.  For example at the Waverley and Brodie Libraries, the book and audio visual drops are located near the front doors, and if left in place during the day when the library was open, would obstruct stairwells and create safety and security concerns.

Can children access the Internet stations which are not located in the Children's Department?

All those 15 years of age and younger must have a signed parental permission form on file with the Library in order to use the Internet workstations which are not in the Children's department. The computers located in the Children's Department which allow access to the Internet, only allow children to visit sites that have been pre-selected by staff.  The computers with Internet access located in other areas of the library have access to the entire Internet.  Children 9 years old and under must also be accompanied when using Internet access at all times by an adult or someone who has been designated as being responsible for the child's safety and supervision while in the library.  Our Public Internet Access and Use Policy may be found here.

Can I sign out reference books and magazines?

Yes! Feel free to check with staff if you have any questions. Some reference materials remain accessible only on-site (e.g., local history and genealogy collections or government documents) to ensure that library users always have some resources to use for their research needs.

What if I want a book that isn't in your collection?

If the Library does not have a book or other material that you wish to read or use, you may request that we purchase this material by filling out a purchase suggestion form.  Your suggestion will be reviewed by librarians who select for the specific area of the request.  You may also request that an item be brought in from another library for your use.  This is known as an inter-library loan, and is a service provided by Reference Services.  Upon request, we will borrow books on your behalf from out-of-town libraries.  You then return the books to us and we'll ship them back to their home library.