Portsmouth City Council libraries provide free access to an extensive range of information sources, both printed and online. Trained, knowledgeable staff will help answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

You can use reference materials free of charge in the library, but there are charges for photocopying or downloading from an online database.

Follow the link for reference information for businesses.

For more information, email reference.library@portsmouthcc.gov.uk, phone 023 9268 8044.

Portsmouth City Council Library Service is now signed up to the Access To Research scheme.

Access to Research is a new pilot scheme to give free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research in public libraries across the UK. Subjects include art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences.

All content provided is digital and can only be accessed using computers in public libraries. For more information about this exciting resource, including terms of use, and to search for documents by subjects and keywords, visit the Access To Research scheme site.

The central library holds a UK set of:

You may also find these online directories useful:

All libraries hold information about your local area, such as:

  • doctors, dentists and other healthcare establishments
  • schools and childcare facilities
  • clubs, societies and leisure activities.

You can find this information in leaflets, books, directories or online. Please ask staff to help if you cannot find what you are looking for.

Here are some useful community information websites:

  • Charity commission - information about every registered charity in England and Wales
  • Carechoice - details of all residential care homes in Hampshire with current vacancies and contact details
  • Gov.uk - government information and online services for the public all in one place.

A variety of maps, timetables and guidebooks can help you plan your journey:

  • Maps including: atlases for roads, streets and the world, maps for UK town & cities and overseas. Ordnance Survey maps are available for reference and to borrow
  • Public transport timetables for buses, coaches, ferries, and trains for UK, Europe and abroad UK Town information, guidebooks and brochures
  • Specific guidebooks to hotels, campsites, travelling with children, good beer guides, pet friendly.
  • Visit Britain helps you plan a holiday in the UK, find hotels and accommodation in Britain, investigate UK travel options, and gives attractions or events information.

Libraries can help you find information on a wide range of education including evening or part-time courses. All libraries hold local school, college and university brochures and contacts.

Central library has an education reference section consisting of:

Other opportunities to learn:

If you are looking for work or thinking about a career change, all libraries have books on careers, job applications and qualifications. You can also read The Portsmouth News in any city library, which includes a local jobs supplement on Thursdays & Saturdays.  

  • Staff can help you with basic IT skills including completing online job applications, finding work online, and setting up email accounts in North End Library every Tuesday (1.30pm to 4.30pm). For further information, please phone 023 9268 8049.
  • Every Tuesday, 9am-5pm The National Careers Service visits to offer free careers advice, and help and advice in designing a CV. For more information or to book an appointment, phone 0800 1954 700.

Follow the links for more careers advice:

  • National Careers Service - provides free careers advice, such as updating your skills, going back to work after a break and changing career direction. Young people aged 13-19 can get specialist career advice
  • Disability Rights UK - a national independent charity promoting opportunities for disabled people in learning and entry to employment. 

Central library has a large collection of reports and papers issued by government, including:

  • Public and General Acts (Statutes) complete from 1801
  • Regulations (Statutory Instruments) from 1901
  • Hansard (both Commons from 1878 and Lords from 1974)

Legislation gives you access to UK public general acts, local acts and command papers.

Parliament has information on the House of Commons, the House of Lords and national parliamentary services, including access to Hansard transcripts and texts of bills

British History Online contains some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust.

All library branches have a selection of books for reference and loan available on a wide range of legal topics, including local legal advice contact details. You can access online legal information leaflets on a range of topics.

In addition, Portsmouth central library holds a law information collection including bound volumes of statutes, law reports and statutory instruments.

Ask central library staff if you're interested in the online law database, WESTLAW, covering UK legislation (from 1267) and case law (a collection of titles dating from 1865), law journal archives, analytical comment and EU treaties, legislation and cases.

Portsmouth central library holds some historical statistics, and national censuses from 1961 to 1991 are available to view. The County Reports for Hampshire from 1971 to 1991 and the full censuses for Portsmouth from 1841 to 1901 are kept in the local history section at Central Library. For more information, phone the local history centre on 023 9268 8046.

For more statistical information, follow these links:

Library staff will be happy to help you find the information you need.

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