Tutorial and FAQs
Learn more about the NCJRS Virtual Library, how to search the collection, access resources, and more below.
Established in 1972, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is an Office of Justice Programs (OJP) resource offering support and information to further justice-related research, policy, and program development.
The NCJRS Virtual Library hosts a collection of over 235,000 information resources on criminal justice subjects, including corrections, courts, drugs, law enforcement, juvenile justice, victims of crime, and related topics. The Virtual Library provides access to all known OJP works and sponsored research, as well as to thousands of government products, research reports, journal articles, and published and unpublished literature produced through 2014.
Through its collection of over 235,000 information resources on criminal justice subjects, the NCJRS Virtual Library provides access to all known OJP works and sponsored research, as well as to thousands of government products, research reports, journal articles, and published and unpublished literature produced through 2014.
The collection has been developed to meet the needs of professionals, researchers, policymakers, and technical and legal experts in the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and drug/substance abuse fields. Focused subject areas of the collection include corrections, courts, crime prevention, criminology, drugs, juveniles, law enforcement, statistics, technology, and victims of crime.
The NCJRS Virtual Library’s New Additions service allows users to view the most recent resources added to the collection. Resources housed in the collection include all known OJP works and sponsored research, as well as thousands of Federal, State, and local government products; research reports; journal articles; and published and unpublished literature on a wide range of criminal and juvenile justice topics produced through 2014.
The NCJRS Virtual Library’s primary focus is on the collection of information resources produced, funded, and/or sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The NCJRS Virtual Library can only consider items for inclusion in the collection if you or your organization produce resources on behalf of OJP or create resources that are sponsored or funded by OJP.
Follow the instruction below to submit resources to the NCJRS Virtual Library. Before submitting a resource to the NCJRS Virtual Library search the collection to ensure that it has not already been acquired.
- Hardcopy resources may be sent to:
OJP Response Center and Library Services
ATTN: NCJRS Virtual Library
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
- Electronic versions of documents can be submitted via email to the NCJRS Virtual Library. In the correspondence indicate if you grant permission to post the resource online. All electronic formats are accepted and will be converted to PDF if permission to post is granted.
- Web-Based document URLs can be submitted via email to the NCJRS Virtual Library.
- Document collection donations are accepted. Please contact the NCJRS Virtual Library via emailto arrange this transaction.
- Collection suggestions are welcome and may be submitted via email. All suggested resources will be evaluated against collection development criteria. Include the full citation and/or document URL in the message.
Search operations are limited to exact match term or phrase searching. Search returns will include collection records that have only an exact match of the entered search term or phrase. Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and command characters (quotation marks, proximity operators, etc.) are not currently supported by the NCJRS Virtual Library search interface.
To conduct a search of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection visit the search page. Once on the search page…
- Expand the Search Filters accordion.
- Select your desired filters or leave the default settings. You may filter by…
- Full Text Availability – You may select ANY, YES (full text available only), or NO (hardcopy available only).
- OJP Program Office – Denotes a specific OJP Program Office authored or sponsored the resource.
- Enter a term or phrase in any of the presented search criteria fields. Search criteria fields include…
- General – A composite search across various catalog fields.
- Title – A search strictly looking at a resource title.
- Journal – A search restricted to resources from a specific Journal Title.
- NCJ Number – NCJ Number is the NCJRS Virtual Library unique catalog identifier. A search using the NCJ Number will only return a single catalog record.
- Author – A search restricted to resources from a specific Author.
- Published After and Published Before – Setting these “date published” parameters (mm/yyyy) will limit the search to resources published during the expressed date range.
- Select how you would prefer the results set to be presented.
- You may Sort by…
- Date Published [default]
- Date Added to the collection
- Title (alphabetically)
- NCJ Number (numerically)
- You may also select how you would like the results Ordered…
- Descending (highest to lowest) [default]
- Ascending (lowest to highest)
- You may Sort by…
- Click on the blue "Submit all selections" button.
Initial search returns are sorted by Date Published in descending order (newest to oldest). However, you can modify this prior to your search (reference “Search the Collection”).
Additionally, you may edit an executed search by opening the “Use Search Filters” accordion presented above the search results listing. The criteria entered for your initial search will be presented in the accordion and you may modify your search criteria and execute a new search.
While searching the NCJRS Virtual Library collection you will encounter links to online materials. Be mindful of copyright restrictions with any reuse or repurposing – even online accessible information is covered by U.S. copyright restrictions.
The NCJRS Virtual Library does not hold the copyright for any of the materials housed in the collection. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by Fair Use as defined in U.S. copyright law requires permission of the copyright owners. It is the responsibility of the user to examine the copyright and licensing restrictions of linked pages and to secure all necessary permission if further use of these materials is desired.
Note that online Federal government information accessed through the collection is in the public domain. This information may be freely distributed and copied; however, in any subsequent use the authoring agency should be cited and given appropriate acknowledgement. Materials authored or published by other, non-government organizations may be protected by U.S. and foreign copyright laws. These links are provided for the convenience of Internet access.
More detailed information pertaining to copyright restrictions of resources accessed through NCJRS Virtual Library services is provided in the Document Delivery and Interlibrary Loan sections below.
Many resources — and most resources published by OJP Program Offices since 1995 — are available in online, full-text format. Links to these online resources are included in the NCJRS Virtual Library catalog records and appear in the search result entries. Note that, in addition to full-text document links, links to publisher web sites or other relevant resources may also be provided.
Black-and-white PDFs of select NCJRS Virtual Library materials are available for a fee. Due to copyright restrictions, only one PDF of a document can be provided per request. PDFs of copyright-protected materials are not normally available from the NCJRS Virtual Library. However, special exceptions are made for requests that comply with Fair Use criteria (17 USC 107). See below for information on Standard and Fair Use requests, as well as costs, payment, delivery, and copyright restrictions.
Standard Requests – An "Order Photocopy" link will appear on a catalog record page for documents that can be ordered online through the NCJRS Virtual Library standard service. Simply click on the “Order Photocopy” link and follow the prompts to submit and pay for your request.
Fair Use Requests – The Fair Use clause (17 USC 107) allows for reproduction of particular works for purposes including criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Four factors are considered when determining whether a particular request complies with the Fair Use clause:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether it is commercial in nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
- The nature of the copyrighted work.
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.
Fair Use requests received by the NCJRS Virtual Library are evaluated against these four factors and either approved or rejected. To place a Fair Use request simply email your request to the NCJRS Virtual Library clearly citing the document and stating the purpose of the request (i.e. research, scholarship, teaching, etc.). NCJRS Virtual Library staff will respond to your request promptly and advise you on how to proceed.
Costs and Payment– For both Standard and Fair Use requests payment via credit card (Visa or MasterCard) is required before the request can be processed. All payments are submitted in the NCJRS Shopping Cart. Fees are calculated based on the number of pages appearing in the original document (page count) and your location (domestic or outside the U.S.). Page counts may include blank pages as they appear in the original document. The chart below details PDF service fees.
Note that customers will not be billed until the availability of the requested document is confirmed.
Document Delivery Services Fees
Delivery – In most cases the NCJRS Virtual Library will deliver a scanned, black-and-white PDF of the requested document via the email address provided at the time of ordering. Black-and-white printouts or photocopies of the requested materials can be sent if requested. Contact the NCJRS Virtual Library at [email protected] after placing the order in the NCJRS Shopping Cart if a printout or photocopy is needed in place of the PDF and cite the provided Order Number.
Copyright Notice – Under no circumstances does receiving a photocopy or PDF from the NCJRS Virtual Library waive copyright.
Most resources in the NCJRS Virtual Library collection are available through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to patrons in the United States and Canada. ILLs within the United States cost $15.00 per item. Loans to Canada cost $16.50 (USD) per item. Payment via credit card (Visa or MasterCard) is required before the ILL can be processed. Loans to most personnel from U.S. Federal, State, and local government agencies — including law enforcement and corrections personnel — are free of charge.
To initiate an ILL request loan, contact a librarian at your local library for assistance. ILL requests can be submitted to the NCJRS Virtual Library by email at [email protected]
Many of the publications housed in the NCJRS Virtual Library collection are available at local libraries and the NCJRS Virtual Library provides a function for you to search these collections through the "Find in a Library" feature. At times, it might be faster, cheaper, and/or more convenient to access the documents you find in the NCJRS Virtual Library collection at a library in your area.
When presented on a catalog record page click the "Find in a Library" link to discover if a particular NCJRS Virtual Library resource is available at your local library. By clicking on the "Find in a Library" link from a catalog record you will access OCLC WorldCat® a global consortium of over 10,000 libraries, and be able to check if the document you are interested in is available at your local library. After connecting with WorldCat® you can filter the results by your City and State, or ZIP code, and see libraries local to you that may have the desired resource in their collections.
In addition to being available online, original copies of many recent document releases published by OJP Program Offices can be ordered. An "Order" link will be presented in the NCJRS Virtual Library catalog record for items that are available for online ordering through the NCJRS Shopping Cart. An "Order Photocopy" link appears for resources that are not available in inventory, but that can be ordered through the NCJRS Virtual Library’s Document Delivery service (see above for details about this service). Clicking either link will add the item to your NCJRS Shopping Cart.
NCJRS Virtual Library Frequently Asked Questions
The NCJRS Virtual Library/Abstracts Database is not compatible with the program EndNote.
Many of the publications from NCJRS sponsor agencies and those housed in the NCJRS Virtual Library Abstracts Database collection are available at local libraries. NCJRS provides the "Find in a Library" service for you to search these collections. At times, it may be faster, cheaper, and/or more convenient to access documents found within the NCJRS Virtual Library at a local library.
From an abstract detail page, when you click on the Find in a Library link, NCJRS will send a formatted search to WorldCat, a consortium of over 10,000 libraries worldwide. On the WorldCat site, you can discover if the document you are interested in is available in a local library.
To learn more, view the Obtain Materials section of the Virtual Library Tutorial.
Yes, there are fees for interlibrary loans (ILL). ILLs within the United States have a fee of $15.00 per item while loans to Canada have a fee of $16.50 (USD) per item loaned. ILLs are only available to patrons in the United States and Canada. See the Interlibrary Loan section of our site for additional information about this service and how to request an ILL.
Resources may be borrowed from the NCJRS Library via interlibrary loan for a period of 6 weeks. An additional 6-week extension is available by request. See the Interlibrary Loan section of our site for additional information about this service.
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Virtual Library Abstracts Database houses materials and resources produced and/or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Prior to October 2014, the Library collected resources from a wide variety of sources (i.e., research organizations, journal publishers, etc.). These materials remain available through the NCJRS collection.
The collection covers the broad subject areas of criminal and juvenile justice, as well as related fields of study. Topics including corrections, law enforcement, drugs and crime, juvenile justice, and crime victims are comprehensively covered. Similarly, more focused subjects within these broad topics are also covered, such as technology in law enforcement, domestic violence, drug policy, and youth violence.
You can receive weekly notifications of NCJRS Virtual Library additions by subscribing to the NCJRS New Additions list.
Items may be ordered via Interlibrary Loan (ILL) through your local or University library using the standard American Library Association ILL form. Please work with your local librarian to complete the form and submit the request. The completed form, along with pre-payment, should be submitted to NCJRS by mail or email:
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Payment ($15 per item in the U.S.; $16.50 per item for loans to Canada) is accepted by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover or U.S./Canadian government purchase order. Note that all purchase order invoices must be paid by a credit card.
Additionally, many publications in the Virtual Library are available at local libraries. Use the "Find in a Library" service to search these collections and discover if the document you are interested in is available at a local library. To learn more about this, visit the Virtual Library Services page.