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Library-FAQs: Home

Library FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions


Where is the Library located? How can I visit?

The NOAA Central Library is located at the NOAA Silver Spring Metro Center campus in Silver Spring, MD. We are open to NOAA employees, contractors, and affiliates, Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (Federal holidays excluded). Visiting scholars, researchers, and members of the general public may also schedule an appointment by contacting our library reference staff.

Please see our Visiting the Library section for more information about arranging a visit.

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Who does the NOAA Central Library serve?

The NOAA Central Library serves all NOAA employees and affiliates located in the Silver Spring Metro Campus and in the Suitland Federal Center, as well as those located in the Hoover Building in downtown Washington, DC. We also serve patrons who work across the country that are not served by another NOAA library. 

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How can I become a library patron?

NOAA employees, contractors, and affiliates are automatically registered as library patrons. Whenever possible, we try to provide access to our collection to scholars and researchers who are not officially affiliated with NOAA. If you are not a NOAA employee or contractor, and would like to visit us, please contact the reference/information desk via e-mail ( to arrange a visit.

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What type of materials does the Library hold?

The NOAA Central Library collects materials in a wide variety of formats on a large number of subjects related to NOAA research, including environmental science, ecology, fisheries, geosciences, marine and freshwater biology, meteorological and atmospheric sciences, oceanography and limnology, and more. Listed below are some of the types of materials available through the library:

  • Journals: We currently subscribe to over 4,000 peer-reviewed journals in both electronic and print formats. For a list of our electronic journals, please visit our catalog. You can also find both print and electronic journals through the library catalog.
  • Electronic Databases: We provide access to a number of databases that index journals in a wide range of subject areas. To see which databases we have, and to access them directly from your desktop, you can view our alphabetical list.
  • NOAA Resources: The NOAA Central Library is the official repository of all NOAA publications and is the best place to find materials about NOAA history, videos documenting NOAA research expeditions, and more. All of these materials are findable through the library catalog
  • Print materials: We have a wide variety of print materials, including historical maps of the ocean floor, modern and historical books on climate, and more. All of these materials are findable through the library catalog.
  • Images: We also maintain an online Photo Library of over 80,000 images taken by NOAA staff. The majority of these images are in the public domain, so feel free to use them in your publications, websites, or personal projects.

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How do I check out materials?

You may check out certain items from the library if you are a NOAA employee, contractor, or affiliate working in the Silver Spring, MD area. To check out an item, you can either request item pickup online via our catalog or simply bring it to the reference desk and ask to check it out.

The standard borrowing period for items is one month. To request an extension to this period, or to renew an item, contact the reference desk.  Journals may be checked out for one day or overnight.  Rare books, reference materials, and other special items may not be checked out, but are available for use in the library.

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Can I access the Library's electronic materials from my desk?

We have five types of electronic materials available: databases, digital collections, electronic journals, ebooks, and PDF files of NOAA publications. Because we provide access to most of our electronic materials through IP authentication, you do not need to use a password to access most of these resources from your NOAA computer. If you are a NOAA employee, contractor, or affiliate, and cannot connect to an e-journal or database from your NOAA computer, please fill out the library's Report an Access Issue Google Form and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

If you have any other questions about using any of these resources, please contact us.

  • Databases: All of the databases provided by the library are accessible from the Databases and Article Searching page. You can also see these databases arranged by subject. Click on any of the database titles in these lists to access them directly. Access to some of these databases may be restricted, so please see the individual database descriptions for availability. In some cases, accessing these databases from non-NOAA computers may be possible.
  • Digital Collections: The library is in the process of digitizing portions of its historical collections in order to make them more easily accessible to our patrons and to the general public. All of the materials that have been digitized and made available can be accessed through our Collections page. These materials are freely available to everyone.
  • Electronic Journals: The library provides access to our electronic journals through our catalog
  • NOAA Publications: All of the NOAA publications included in the library’s collection are findable through the NOAA Institutional Repository and library catalog.

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You don't seem to have a book that I need. How can I request materials?

If the library does not have the resource or publication you need, you can request that we get it for you.

If you only need a particular item for a certain amount of time, you can request that we borrow the item from another library. For more information about the interlibrary loan (ILL) service at the NOAA Central Library and to place a request, please see our Interlibrary Loan section.

If we are not able to locate an item through ILL, or you would like the library to consider adding an item or journal subscription to our permanent collection, you may email your request to In your email, please include as much information about the item as possible to assist us in locating and evaluating it for our collection.

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How do I submit a new NOAA publication to the library? Why should I submit my publication?

Under NOAA Administrative Order NAO 205-17A: Information Access & Dissemination, the NOAA Central Library is the official repository for all NOAA publications. The library collects all technical reports, technical memos, promotional materials, videos, and other documents that have been generated by NOAA staff and makes them available to all of NOAA and the general public through the the library catalog.

To submit your publication to the library, please do one of the following depending on whether your publication is in electronic or print format:

  • Electronic: For publications in electronic formats (.pdf, .doc, etc), please email the URL of the publication, or if the publication is not posted online send the file as an attachment, to the Institutional Repository
  • Print: For publications that only exist in print, please bring two copies of the publication to the library for either inclusion in the physical collection or add to our digitization queue. 

If you have any questions about submitting your publications, please contact us.

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Can I access Library resources from a non-NOAA computer?

Your ability to access the library’s electronic collections from a non-NOAA computer depends both on the type of resource needed and on the vendor that provides that resource.

  • NOAA Publications: The library’s electronic collections of NOAA publications and videos are freely accessible to anyone. You can access them from anywhere via the NOAA Institutional Repository and library catalog.
  • Databases: Field access to online databases depends on the database vendor.
    • Databases that are available to anyone, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals and the National Academies press, can be accessed from anywhere.
    • For legal databases such as Lexis+ and Westlaw that require a user ID and password to access, you may use your user ID and password to access the database from anywhere. Contact the Department of Commerce Research Library to obtain a user ID and password to these databases.
    • Other databases, such as Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts and Meteorological and Geophysical Abstracts, require IP authentication to access, so you cannot use them from the field. However, we can email articles to you from the reference desk, so if you need articles in the field, please contact us and we will email you the articles you need.
  • Electronic Journals: Because our current journal subscriptions require us to authenticate users by their IP addresses, we cannot offer access to them to you unless you are on a NOAA campus or lab or on a NOAA VPN. However, we can email articles to you while you are in the field, so please contact us and we will email you the materials you need.

If you cannot access our electronic collections from your NOAA office computer, please fill out the library's Report an Access Issue Google Form and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

If you have any other questions about accessing electronic collections from the field, please contact us.

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I need to find a resource / do a literature search / find a data set / cite a document.

We at the library are here to provide you research services. We encourage you to ask us any questions you may have about the library, using library resources, literature searching, finding data sets, citation analysis, and more.

If you would rather talk to a librarian, we encourage you to schedule a time to talk by emailing or visiting our virtual NOAA IR, Publishing, ORCID, & Section 508 "Office Hours" every Tuesday from 2-3:30 PM ET: 

Google Meet joining info
Video call link:
Or dial: ‪(US) +1 646-883-9716‬ PIN: ‪832 333 185‬#
More phone numbers:

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