How Do I...?
Reserve a Computer
Read the Guidelines for Computer and Internet Use.
Public Access Computers
All Chicago Public Library locations offer computers with free Internet access and LibreOffice software. LibreOffice is an open-source office suite compatible with Microsoft Office. The following LibreOffice components are available:
- Writer: A word processor similar to Microsoft Word or WordPerfect.
- Calc: A spreadsheet program similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3.
- Impress: A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.
Find LibreOffice tutorials on the Computers and the Internet Popular Topics page.
All CPL locations have one-hour computers and express computers, which may be used for 15 minutes. A valid Chicago Public Library card is required to use the computers. If you live in Chicago and do not have a valid library card, apply at the Circulation Desk. Proper identification is required.
If you live in a library district with a reciprocal borrowing agreement with the Chicago Public Library and you are in good standing with your home library district, you are eligible for a reciprocal Chicago Public Library card, which you will need in order to reserve a computer. The Reciprocal Borrowing Policy has a list of reciprocal libraries.
Visitors to Chicago may obtain a temporary guest pass for the day by presenting proper photo identification verifying residence outside of a reciprocal library district. Residents of communities with a reciprocal borrowing agreement with CPL are not eligible for a guest pass.
Library card rights and responsibilities are not transferable. Unauthorized use of another person’s library card number without that person’s permission is expressly forbidden and will be subject to prosecution.
Make a Reservation
To reserve a one-hour computer session, sign up online or visit any Chicago Public Library location and use the PC Reservation Station. Reservations may be made for the same day and/or in advance for the following two days. Please note the start time and computer number of your reservation.
You are allowed a maximum of two sessions per day, which includes sessions on one-hour computers and express computers. All sessions time out automatically. This ensures access to as many users as possible.
Be on Time
If you are more than 10 minutes late, or do not show up, your reservation will be canceled and you will forfeit that reservation. If you are unable to keep your reservation, cancel it online or contact the library location so you don’t lose one of your two sessions for the day.
Using the PC Reservation Station
- Press any key on the keyboard.
- Select “Next Available PC” or “Future Reservation.”
- Enter your library card number (located below the barcode on your library card).
- Select an Adult Computer (14 and older) or a Juvenile Computer (under 14) and desired start time.
- You will receive a confirmation and a unique PIN. Click “Accept” or “Cancel.”
- Please note the start time and computer number for your reservation.
- When it’s time for your reserved session, log in to your assigned computer using your library card number (see item #3).
You will be charged 15 cents per page. Alternatives to printing include saving information to a flash drive or emailing it to yourself.
- Select “Print Preview” from the file menu. Use this option to determine which pages you want to print.
- Select “Print” from the file menu. The print information window will appear, allowing you to choose the pages you would like to print.
- Select the pages you would like to print and click “OK.”
- A small window will appear with the number of pages being sent to the Print Release Station and the associated cost. If you do not want to incur the cost, click “Cancel.” You can send as many documents as you like to the Print Release Station. You will not be charged until you release a document to the printer at the station. All documents sent to the Print Release Station will remain there for two hours or until printed.
- At the end of your computer session, log off and go to the Print Release Station. Enter your library card number on the screen marked “LPT:One.” A list of the items you sent to print will appear.
- Once you have determined how many pages you will be printing, go to the circulation desk to pay for your prints. Refunds cannot be given for unwanted or blank pages.
- Return to the Print Release Station to select those items you wish to print and click “Print.” If you decide against printing an item, click “Delete” to remove it from the screen.
- After you have selected all the documents you would like to print, click “Done.” Proceed to the nearby printer to pick up your documents.
Search the Library’s online catalog and research resources. Every CPL location has Find It! dedicated computers set aside for searching the online catalog and research resources. No reservations are needed.
The Library also provides free access to a variety of online research resources in English and Spanish, including encyclopedias, magazine and newspaper articles, health information, business resources, photographs, and reference information on science, literature, math, the arts and education for a variety of age levels.
These databases contain information not available through search engines like Google or Yahoo. The information in the online research resources is written and reviewed by professionals, editors and fact checkers. Most online research resources are also available from home, office or school with a valid Chicago Public Library card (in good standing).
All CPL locations have laptops for in-house use by patrons 14 and older. Laptops offer Internet access and LibreOffice software. Printing is available.
Visit the circulation desk to check out a laptop. Please present your library card as well as a current valid government-issued ID or current student ID.
All Chicago Public Library locations offer free wireless access. All you need is a wireless-enabled device. The Library’s network is open to all visitors and offered without filters. No special encryption settings, usernames or passwords are required. The SSID is CPLWIFI.
Connect to the WiFi has setup and troubleshooting information.
A Message from CPL
The Chicago Public Library is not responsible for personal equipment plugged into electrical outlets at CPL locations.
Only computer equipment and software owned and previously installed by the Chicago Public Library may be used on Chicago Public Library computers, with the exception of patron-owned flash drives, which may be used on all public access computers. Adding, deleting or modifying the installed software or hardware is not permitted. No personal files will be saved on the hard drive.