Reference, Adult Services, and Computer Training Center

The Reference & Adult Services Department provides a diverse set of resources and services:

  • "Got a Question? Ask Us!" in person, by telephone, email, live chat
  • Research Guides on a wide range of topics
  • non-fiction, biography and reference books, databases, magazines and newspapers
  • Interlibrary Loan of books, audiobooks, articles, and microfilm
  • free meeting rooms for individuals and groups
  • customized Research Skills training
  • Library Tours
  • Exam Proctoring
  • Reader’s Advisory for adult non-fiction and biography
  • free computer and Internet access
  • free classes for Basic PC, Internet, and Microsoft Office 2010 skills

Reference Services

Do you need an answer to an important question, a telephone number or address, or homework assistance? Need to know which databases on the Alabama Virtual Library can supply you with the information you need? The Reference Department has a knowledgeable and courteous staff trained to find answers to difficult questions and help you use the Library's collection more effectively.

Public Access Computers

The Reference and Adult Services Department has forty-eight free public access computers for use during library hours. All you need is a Library or Computer Use card to have access to the Internet or a variety of Microsoft Products including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and many other useful applications. Effective, June 1, 2011, you may use our public access computers for up to 120 minutes (2 hours) a day. We also provide Express Computers for fifteen minute usage. Time spent on Express Computers counts toward the daily two hour allotment.

Computer Classes

The Computer Training Center provides classes on Microsoft Office programs as well as instruction on developing Internet, keyboarding, genealogical, and job searching skills. See our list of all classes offered by the Training Center staff and a schedule of the classes currently being offered.

Meeting Rooms

The Reference Department has rooms available for use by the public at no charge. (Is my group eligible to use a meeting room?) Meeting rooms are available for groups as large as 10 to 12 and smaller rooms can be reserved for 1 to 3 people. All rooms may be reserved up to one month in advance. Visit for more info about these meeting rooms:

For more information, or to make a reservation, please contact the Reference Desk at (256) 532-5975, by emailing askus [at] hmcpl [dot] org, or by using our contact form.

Rooms are available:

  • Mondays:  9am – 9pm
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays:  3pm – 9pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays : 9am – 5pm
  • Sundays : 1pm – 5pm

Chat with a librarian!



In addition to in person, phone, and e-mail reference services, the department also answers Reference questions via live online chat. The service is now available the same hours as the Main Library's hours of operation:

  • Monday - Thursday: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1-5 p.m.

Interlibrary Loan

If you are unable to find a book, microfilm, or magazine in our collection, try our Interlibrary Loan service. We provide an efficient Interlibrary Loan service that locates materials from all over the country. Materials are loaned for 2-4 weeks and loan requests can be made in person, by telephone or by email. In order to place an Interlibrary Loan you will need to have a current and valid Library card.

Assistive Technologies

In all public computing locations at the Main Library, assistive technology programs are available for free use. Called "My Study Bar," the software available includes aids for planning, writing, reading, vision, and text reading. Check out a thumb drive with pre-loaded software at the Reference Desk. Thumb drives and software is made available through T.A.S.C.: Technology Assistance for Special Consumers.

Exam Proctoring

The Reference Department offers proctoring of print and online exams. (See our proctoring policy and application form.)

Of interest to non-profits

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library is a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center. The Reference Department provides free access to Foundation Directory Online Professional and other Foundation Center print and online resources. Reference Librarians are available to help patrons use these resources. The Reference Department also sponsors monthly webinars on topics of interest to non-profits. These classes are free and open to the public.

Research Guides

Everyone has research needs. Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, parent, or consumer, everyone experiences a need for reliable, accurate, timely and/or unbiased information at some point in their lives. Often a simple web search just isn’t enough. Librarians are here to help!

Reference & Adult Services Department librarians provide guides to research on specific topics through the “Research Guides” page at Launched in January, 2012, the guides available range from Business Startup Resources to the Art of Tattooing. These guides provide links to library resources, Alabama Virtual Library databases, local resources, and free online sites. Resources are cherry-picked to provide the researcher with the most useful links, books, articles, and databases.

The guides are free and open to everyone, but some resources profiled are only available to HMCPL cardholders or Alabama residents. The guides can be accessed 24/7, and users can e-mail questions to the Reference staff. If you would like to suggest a topic for a guide, please contact askus [at] hmcpl [dot] org.