From The Beacon: 'Subscription database': Not boring

'Subscription database" has to be one of the least appealing expressions in the English language. Not only is the sound of it ugly, but so is the mental image of a dreary computer program overstuffed with facts, figures and spinoffs of both. To make matters worse, this is a subscription database -- one more thing to have to pay for.

So it probably wouldn't thrill you to learn that the Beaufort County Library System has a wide selection of subscription databases for our customers to use to their hearts' content. Would it pique your interest to learn that our library cardholders can access these products from their home and office computers, absolutely free of charge?

Not yet? Well, I can hardly blame you. But I'll try a little harder.

Imagine yourself at home, relaxing with your favorite TV show or enjoying a ball game from your favorite recliner; it fades to black and then one of those eye-catching commercials pops on and now you're yearning to learn another language. You think to yourself that maybe you need to brush up on Spanish for work or catch up on your nearly forgotten French for a vacation. Now here's the good part: You don't have to buy anything! With your library card and access to one of our databases, you can have a free personal account to the BYKI ("Before You Know It") Online Learning Program that teaches you how to speak, write, read and listen to more than 70 languages, at your own pace.

Looking for something especially practical? Perhaps you've had the family car owner's manual go missing from the glove compartment or maybe you'd like to save money by doing your own auto repairs sometimes. Too bad that you're probably doing without the Automobile Repair Reference Center on your laptop, with information about repair procedure, service bulletins, recalls, wiring diagrams, specifications and maintenance intervals for vehicles from 1945 to 2009. Again, you should try one of our library databases. You can access this product, like all the others I'm mentioning, at no cost to you.

There might be no further excuses for neglecting the "honey-do list" once you've connected to the EBSCOHost Home Repair Center. Pamphlets, articles and even step-by-step videos about home decorating and remodeling; general maintenance; electrical and outdoor jobs; plumbing; and woodworking. And when all the jobs are finished, EBSCOHost's Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center provides the same kind of resources for arts and crafts; collecting; electronics and games; home leisure; model building; needlecrafts and textiles; scrapbooking and paper crafts; summer and seasonal handicrafts; and, especially appropriate for the Lowcountry, outdoors and nature. You might be looking to do a new project, make a special gift for someone or even find great things for the kids to do on a rainy day; you'll find it all there.

No matter what age you are, there's always opportunity to develop one's potential. Anyone looking for a step up in school or at work will profit from the practice tests on Learning Express. Along with GED, SAT and event tutorials for vocational tests like the Postal Exam, there are subject-area lessons to improve grades from elementary school through college and help with business skills. Compare that with some of the courses with fees that you may have considered for yourself or your kids. You'll even find online courses for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

As for the other subscription databases (and I hope the expression is less off-putting at this point), the topics are as varied as the age groups they serve -- homework; business; health; recreational reading; newspapers; general interest and careers; and helpful guidance for children, teens and adults.

Learn how to access these many valuable resources on your next visit to a Beaufort County Library System location. Find your local library branch at www.beaufortcoun tylibrary.org. And why not pick up some books, videos and books on CD while you're at it? We're your library system, and we're here for you.