Now, I know what you’re thinking: “library databases” and “cool” in the same sentence just doesn’t sound right. But hear me out: a database is just a collection of information. Spotify, Wikipedia, and IMDB are all kinds of databases. And while those are great if you want to listen to music, research famous ghosts, or figure out who was in that cartoon you barely remember watching when you were five, the databases we have here at the Harris County Public Library can help you do a whole lot more. It can be a lot to take in, so I am here to tell you about 3 cool things you can do with library databases that you might not be familiar with.
1. Fix your car
No, HCPL’s databases won’t fix your car for you, but they can help you figure out how to fix it yourself. We have two automotive repair databases: Small Engine Repair Reference Center and Chilton Library, which is a digital version of the Chilton car repair manuals that you might have encountered in the past. Chilton Library even lets you sort by the year, make, and model of your car to find the exact repair information you’re looking for. I don’t need to tell you that we do a lot of driving here in Harris County and it takes a real toll on our vehicles. So whether you’re a tried and true gearhead or you’re new to the world of DIY car maintenance, both of these databases can be a great place to start.
2. Do genealogy research
Genealogy and local history research are hugely popular, but it can be a tough hobby to get into if you’ve never done it before. HCPL has you covered here, too. Whether you’re interested in researching Texas history, viewing archival materials, or learning about your family’s past, we have a number of databases to get you started. One of the most exciting is Ancestry, which you can access for free if you visit a library location and access it on one of our computers. That combined with Family Search, Heritage Quest, and our other resources makes HCPL your ideal place to start your genealogy journey.
3. Learn a language
There are few skills that are more widely sought-after right now than being able to speak multiple languages, and most of us have probably tried to learn another language at some point or another. Rather than spending money on a passive-aggressive app that you boot up once every six months to try to learn Japanese, check out Transparent Language instead! It’s free with your library card and has a huge variety of languages that you can learn, including Spanish, French, and Chinese, as well as languages that can be more difficult to find resources for, like Croatian and Urdu. Plus, if you or someone you know are looking to learn English, Transparent Language still has you covered, as does LearningExpress Library!
Our databases can be a great resource, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so I encourage you to look around our database directory on your own. You never know what you’ll find!
This blog was written by Elizabeth B. and first appeared in June 2021.