NC Cardinal FAQ

We know our patrons have a lot of questions regarding the upcoming transition to NC Cardinal. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

If you have a concern that is not addressed please do not hesitate to contact your local library branch or send us an email.


What is NC Cardinal? 

NC Cardinal is a growing consortium of public libraries in 51 North Carolina counties dedicated to sharing resources and expanding opportunities through the use of a single online catalog. It is a program of the State Library of North Carolina, supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Federal Library Services and Technology Act. 

NC Cardinal expands items available to you from about 130,000 items in Onslow County Libraries to over 7.2 million statewide! 

Why is OCPL switching to NC Cardinal? 

Currently, OCPL offers 130,000 items in its collection. NC Cardinal has 7.2 million items. We want to continue to empower our patrons, and expanding access to a state-wide consortium is a big step towards just that! 

  • Discover materials not owned locally. 
  • Borrow materials from any NC Cardinal Library using your local library card. 
  • Return borrowed materials at any NC Cardinal Library. 
  • Place holds online for items from any NC Cardinal library, and materials will be sent to YOUR pickup library of choice at no additional cost. 

Where is the new catalog located? 

The NC Cardinal catalog is located here.

Will the library be closed for the switch? 

All branches will have delayed openings on October 21 and 22 for staff training, and may also have a delayed opening on November 12 for the go-live. 

The online catalog will be offline from November 7 to November 12 as staff prepares data for migration. Patrons will be unable to check their accounts during this time but can contact library staff through phone, email, or in-person with any questions about their account. 

Will my library card, holds, and checkouts be affected by the switch? 

All your information will transfer to NC Cardinal. You do not need to do anything to use the new system except ensuring you get a new library card number so you are not affected by the change.

 If your cards look like one of these you are all set. If they do not, please be sure to update your card as soon as possible. 

After the migration is completed, your account PIN will change to the last four digits of the primary phone number listed on your account (you can then change it). If you need to verify or update the phone number in our records, let us know. New Library Card Designs, (puppy, turtle, and Onslow County map)

Will my reading history or account wish lists transfer to NC Cardinal? 

Unfortunately, neither of these lists will transfer over to NC Cardinal. Prior to November 12, please ensure your reading history is saved to an alternate location. Library staff are able to help print your reading history or save your reading history to a PDF. 

Once we transition to NC Cardinal, you can turn on your reading history on your online account. 

If I see a book in another NC Cardinal library that I want to borrow, how do I place a request for that item? 

Beginning 2021, you can request that the book be sent to any OCPL branch for pickup. Just click on the Place Hold button beside that item. The system will ask for your library card number and password/PIN. 

Items coming from outside OCPL system will take a little longer to arrive based on the item's availability and shipping. 

How do holds from libraries outside of OCPL work? 

Holds are not filled specifically on a first come, first serve basis. Instead, the system uses estimated shipping times and an item's current location to maximize its ability to fill holds fairly.  

If I visit another NC Cardinal library, can I check out books using my OCPL card? 

Yes. You can use your OCPL card at any NC Cardinal library. You can also return any books from any NC Cardinal library to any other NC Cardinal library. 

What does it cost me to get a book from another NC Cardinal Library? 

It's free! There is no cost associated with requesting items from participating NC Cardinal libraries. 

Will every library in the state consortium have access to my information? 

Yes. However, protecting user privacy and confidentiality is one of the core values of librarianship.  North Carolina State law requires that we treat materials you check out and information you access as confidential information, and we are committed to protecting your privacy. The confidentiality of library records is a core part of library ethics and the NC Cardinal consortium follows the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association and NC General Statutes. 

How does NC Cardinal Use the Information collected?  

NC Cardinal use personal information and residency verification to issue library cards. If a user chooses to provide an email address, NC Cardinal may use it to send account alerts and other communications. They use library records to assist in maintaining our collections and to verify records of users’ paid and unpaid fines.  

  • They may use login credentials and library records to deliver enhanced or personalized services.  
  • They use personal information, login credentials, and residency verification to provide access to e-books through mobile applications.  
  • They use personal information when collecting or processing payments and fines.  
  • They use cookies to collect information about your activity, browser, and device in order to provide you library services.  
  • They use user statistical categories to filter data within our reporting modules.