The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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Frequently Asked Reference Questions (FAQs)

I lost my Social Security card. How do I replace it?

Instructions for requesting a replacement Social Security card are given at the SSA website, along with answers to other frequently asked questions. Many services are provided through local SSA offices.

Where can I find a copy of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

This act, along with ADA guidelines and regulations, can be found at the ADA Home Page. Print copies of this and many other laws and regulations are available in the Public Documents Department.

Where can I obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses?

The federal documents collection does not include personal records. For information on where to obtain these records, visit the Vital Records website or contact the History and Genealogy Department for locations of area records offices.

I’m researching my family tree. Can I use the Public Documents collection to find information?

For the most part, no. Personal name census information is available for 1790–1930 in the History and Genealogy Department. The Public Documents & Patents Department does house some documents with military rosters, pension rolls, and private letter rulings; consult our publication, Genealogy in Public Documents, for a complete description.

I need help in finding a patent for an invention created by my father more than 30 years ago. I don’t know the exact date of the patent or what the invention was called.

Finding older patents is tricky, but the department has many indexes and databases to help in the search. The best way to research this question is to visit the department and our staff will assist you.

How can I find out if my idea for an invention will sell? I don’t see anything like it on the shelves at Wal-Mart and my friends think it’s a real moneymaker.

The first step in marketing an invention is to determine that it is not already patented by someone else, even if it was never on the market. Visit the department or attend a Power of Patents program for information on how to do a patent search. To talk to other inventors about their patenting and marketing experiences, you may want to attend a meeting of the Cincinnati Inventors’ Council, which meets each month at the Main Library. Contact the department by email or at 513/369-6971, or the Council at 513/831-0664 for more information.

I want to apply for a patent. Do you have the forms? Can I apply online?

There is no form for applying for patents. Instead, the Patent and Trademark Office issues guidelines and regulations for writing a patent application, much like writing a will. The department has these materials and offers a regular program, The Power of Patents, for new inventors who are unfamiliar with the patent process. Online applications are possible, but require a software download and special security encryption, as explained at the PTO’s Electronic Business Center.

I just wrote the great American novel, which I’m making into a movie with my own music for a soundtrack. How do I get copyright protection for my work?

The Public Documents Department has copyright application forms for all types of created works: sound recordings, visual arts, non-dramatic literary works, and the performing arts, as well as general informational bulletins. Copyright is registered with the Library of Congress, which also posts these publications and forms online.

I’m starting a record company and have a great name for it that I don’t want anyone else to use. Should I patent it?

What you want is a trademark, not a patent. The department offers access to databases for searching registered trademarks to see if anyone is already using your business name or logo. Names may registered nationally with the Patent and Trademark Office or state by state. Contact the department for more information and assistance with your search. Materials are also available that explain how to register a mark with the PTO.

How do I get a government grant to start my business?

By and large, there are very few grants for small businesses. However, there are many loan programs. A good place to start is at the Small Business Administration for information and strategies. At the Main Library books on small business start-up are in the collection of the Government and Business Department, including Matthew Lesko’s Government Giveaways for Entrepreneurs (658.15224 qG721).

What forms do I need to start my business?

Most businesses are legally registered at the state level. In Ohio, visit the 1st Stop Business Connection or call 1-800-248-4040 for all the forms you need to start your business. For information on forming a corporation, visit the website of the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. The Public Documents & Patents Department also has a limited selection of business income tax forms.

I need a nautical chart for the coast of North Carolina. Do you have one?

The department has nautical maps for the coastlines, rivers, and other major bodies of water in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. Please inquire at the service desk for specific maps.

Where can I find the most recent Senate Hearing concerning women’s rights and health in Afghanistan?

A subject search at the Thomas government website gives a list of resolutions, bills and hearings on this and other legislative topics. The department also has excellent print resources for tracking legislative histories and other law-related documents.

I’m planning a wedding for the third Saturday in October. What has the weather been like on that day for the past 3 years?

The collection includes local weather data that goes back into the 19th century. (For the requested dates, the data shows temperatures in the 70s and no rain for the last three years.) For recent years, weather data is also available online at the National Weather Service Forecast.

Where can I get a W-5 and a 1040 tax form?

The department has a complete collection of the most frequently used tax forms and publications. These forms may also be obtained through the IRS website.

Where can I find the unemployment rate for Cincinnati for the month of June 2002?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment and other workforce data for large cities, including Cincinnati. This site also offers information on the consumer price index, wages earnings, inflation and consumer spending.

What is the crime rate for major crimes for the three largest cities in Ohio?

Crime in the United States (J. 1.14/: 72000), published by the Department of Justice and available at the Public Documents & Patents service desk, provides this information plus other crime statistics throughout the U.S. Standard reports and customized tables of crime data can be found online at the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Does the Public Documents & Patents Department have any information on the Clean Water Act?

Yes, the department has the text of the act itself plus a number of EPA publications and reports containing additional information on its implementation. Another source of information is the EPA website.

How many people 85 years and older live in Hamilton County, and are any of them Asian?

Data from Census 2000 is available from the U.S. Census Bureau website, where customized reports can be generated. Local census data is also maintained and analyzed by the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, which creates reports and maps specifically for our area.

Can you provide demographic data to show how Over-the-Rhine has changed over the years?

The department has a deep collection of census statistics from 1790 to the present. The U.S. Census Bureau offers tables and search options for retrieving current census information, but older statistics are found primarily in the department’s rich collection of print census reports. Some historical data is also available online at the Historical Census Data Browser.

I would like to open a music store in Cincinnati and need to find a neighborhood where there might be a good market. Can you show me a map of local music stores?

The Library offers a free Geographic Information System (GIS) that may be able to create the map you need. Contact the department at 513/369-6971 or by email for more information.

Where can I find government information on the Internet?

The U.S. government has been at the forefront of putting its information online. Begin at the Government Resources section of our website, which has a comprehensive set of links organized by subject. If you need help, contact the department at 513/369-6971 or by email.

Does your department have anything fun to look at?

Yes! The government publishes much more than statistical charts and legal codes. There are travel guides, topographical maps, drawings of old inventions, art books, magazines, educational kits and a bunch of other unexpected things. Please come by or contact the department if you’d like to explore what we can offer.