Databases – They Are More Than You Think

The New Jersey State Library (NJSL) recently announced the addition of the HeritageQuest genealogy database to the list of resources offered to New Jersey residents through their JerseyClicks website and your local libraries.  This got me to thinking about how the word databases can sometimes conjure up thoughts of boring hours spent combing through journal articles and government documents in a last minute effort to finish a school report.  What the word may not relay to the typical library user is a portal to a world of verified, reliable information that can be used in everyday life – from researching childhood illnesses to fixing that annoying noise your car makes.  Yet today’s databases do just that, go beyond the usual research topics.  Between the NJSL and MCLS, we provide our patrons with databases that can help you land a new job, brush up on you language skills before a vacation, find the next best book to read, or even learn some basic life skills.

Let’s take a look at some of the more unique databases we offer at MCLS (some through NJSL).  Also make sure to take a look at our database page to find our full list of databases that cover business, academic journals, and newspapers.

Genealogy databases – as noted above, we now have access to HeritageQuest, which can be accessed either in the library or at home with your library card.  This database is a subset of government and census records from the U.S. and Canada from the larger collection in the Ancestry database.  It is a good resource to get started on a family history search.  For more detailed searches, we also offer Ancestry in our libraries.

Language databases – Rosetta Stone.  For free!  The NJSL provided database includes full courses in 30 different languages.  If you want something a little more basic for travel or to refresh your skills, we also offer Pronunciator and Mango Languages to get you started on the basics.  All three databases also include ESL sections.

Health – we have subscriptions to a variety of health resources.  Health Source (Consumer) includes thousands of magazines and government publications for the patient.  The Health Reference Center arranges information by gender, age, disease, or topic (exercise, nutrition, etc.) and includes tools, tips, and articles.  FolioMed can be access in the library to research doctors and facilities in the Northeast.

Career, citizenship, homework help, test prep, and life skills – Learning Express Library was started as a test prep site and still has a great collection of practice test for the SAT as well as GED, graduate school, specialized, tech, and career licensing tests.  But the database also includes a set of learning centers that cover everything from elementary school homework help to how to get a Green Card.  The school center has skills tutorials for K-12, while the College Students and Adult Skills Centers cover grammar, writing, reading, and math improvement modules and more.  The Computer Skills Center features video courses on Windows and Microsoft Office, plus basic courses in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as well as internet basics like navigating social media.  For homework help, also take a look at Middle Search Plus, World Almanac for Kids, World Geography and Culture, and the Explora databases for K-12.

History databases – while these are more oriented toward students, they are presented in a manner in which the curious can just do some light reading to brush up on or learn about a topic.  We offer themed databases on African-American history, women’s history, and Native American history.
Science – the Science Reference Center features peer-reviewed and popular periodical and journal titles in the sciences.  Science Online has topical centers that feature science fair experiments, videos, graphics, photographs, and articles about topics and people in the science world – a great place to turn to learn about current topics and trends or find out more about a subject, whether you are a kid or an adult.  Green File has articles on the environment and climate, including tips on living a more Earth-friendly life.

There’s even more – the Small Business Resource Center can get you started on running your own business; ALLDATA auto repair is available at our Lawrence Branch and can be used to access repair guides for virtually any car ever made; ABC Mouse can be used in our libraries for early education games; Morningstar provides investment research; NoveList Plus (and K-8 Plus) let you explore books in a whole new way with read-alike suggestions and best of lists.

En Espanol – In addition to the language databases, Spanish speakers can access resources in Spanish in Learning Express Library, Salud en Espanol - the Health Source (Consumer) database in Spanish, and Referencia Latina - featuring topical centers with articles on entertainment, sports, finance, news, health, immigration, work, and culture.
- Laura N., IT Department