From A to Z: Library cards give you access to more than just books and a building

Published on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 by Debby Farmer, Blaine Library manager

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It’s popular knowledge that with a library card you can check out books. What’s news to many is that same card can help you repair your car, create a resume, learn a foreign language or master a popular computer software program. There are a myriad of ways your library card can be used – you just have to know how.

A gold mine of resources is available for the do-it-yourselfer, job seeker or student of any age. After one quick stop at the library to obtain a card, one never need step into the actual library building again! With a Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) account and an internet connection, access to more than 30 online database subscriptions is available.

Do it yourself

Through the WCLS website, follow the link to the Chilton Library, where home mechanics can find access to photographs, diagnostics and step-by-step repair procedures, maintenance schedules, wiring diagrams, recalls and technical service bulletins for automobiles and light trucks – some dating back to 1940. 

Or take a look at the Small Engine Repair Reference Center, which provides similar information for motorcycles, tractors, outdoor power equipment, all-terrain vehicles, snow machines/mobiles, personal watercraft, generators, marine and boat motors.

Get a job

The Job and Career Accelerator connects employment seekers with 5 million listings of jobs and internships and 1,000 detailed occupational profiles. In addition, it helps provide assistance in creating professional resumes and cover letters, as well as offering proven tips to employ during that important job interview. The Learning Express database lends complementary support with instantly scored licensing, certification and aptitude practice tests, online career preparation and vital information for occupations varying from cosmetology to law enforcement and culinary arts to real estate.

Unlock other languages, learn software programs

Want to learn Icelandic or Punjabi? Two online language-learning programs offer lessons in more than 30 languages.  How about speaking to your computer? Learning Express offers tutorials in Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop, Microsoft Excel and Word, plus many other programs.

Trace your past

Genealogists appreciate HeritageQuest Online, a collection of local histories, primary source materials, and genealogical and local history serials. Included are the 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1870, 1910, 1920 and 1930 (partial) federal census records. The popular genealogy program is also available with a visit to the Lynden Public Library.

Improve your grades

Attention students! HelpNow! by Brainfuse offers live homework help from 1 to 10 p.m., seven days a week for grades 1-12. Subjects are Washington state curriculum-aligned and include English, math, science, social studies, Spanish and more. Need to do a country or state report? Check out CultureGrams. How about that major paper on a selected poet? Biography in Context provides comprehensive information from reference books, magazines, newspapers, journals and websites –with source citations!

Are there children in your life who are learning to read? Introduce them to TumbleBooks, an online collection of animated, talking picture books. Book-based puzzles and games provide additional engaging and educational entertainment.

Expand your literary horizons

Speaking of reading, do you need to find a new good book or favorite author? Novelist will offer you read-alike suggestions for all ages. Series lists, award winners and book discussion guides provide additional material, making this database a valuable resource for any reader.

Need to locate a magazine or newspaper article? With Proquest, search for full-text articles from thousands of magazines, newspapers, scholarly and trade journals covering the arts, business, education, health, literature, politics and general interest subjects. Shopping for a new car or refrigerator? Consumer Reports Online is there to help you, and without the subscription fee. On a more local note, obtain seamless access to the Bellingham Herald digital archives from 1999 to present. 

Are those easy-to-purchase eBooks starting to be a detriment to your monthly budget? Your library card gives you more than 10,000 titles from which to choose. No time for books? Zinio will allow you to download more than 100 popular magazines, from American Artist to Yoga Journal.

Every one of the above resources is available to access remotely with your library card. There are still, however, many reasons to visit the actual library building. 

Yes, you will still encounter books! Tens of thousands of popular and esoteric choices await the browsing reader. 

Audiophile? You’re covered.

Audiobooks may be a better fit for some lifestyles, and more than 20,000 of those options are available. Listen to some tunes by your favorite artist, with 18,500 CDs in a variety of styles, like rock, jazz, classical, country and many more. 

Need a flick for date night?

The DVD collection is sure to have something for even the discriminating viewer – more than 22,000 titles in all the different category favorites, including action/adventure, drama, family, foreign language, horror, musicals, mysteries, documentaries, science fiction and popular television shows.

Get social

With a stop at the library, you may also encounter your friends and neighbors. 

The library is no longer an uninviting repository of books, but rather a vibrant community center, with story times, English classes, computer tutoring, chess clubs, reading groups and much more. 

The resources are endless

Because the Blaine Library is a branch of the Whatcom County Library System it is able to offer a vast number of resources to its community. 

Access the library catalog from home through the WCLS website, use the easy search tool and place requests on the items of interest. You can designate a pick-up location from any of the branches or bookmobile stops, including Birch Bay. 

Can’t find what you’re looking for in the catalog? Go “Beyond the Catalog,” and find what you want in Amazon or WorldCat, which is the interlibrary loan system that connects you to 2 billion items from the collections and services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.

The Friends of the Library maintain an ongoing used book sale, with most items priced under a dollar. Seven public internet stations with printing availability, a photocopier and 24/7 Wi-Fi access are other popular resources that can be found at the library.

What will a library card do for you? Stop by the library and get yours today!

For more information, visit or take a trip to the library to talk with a librarian.