Business research. Databases like Morningstar, ValueLine, and NetAdvantage can arm investors with data on companies and markets needed to get ahead with stocks and bonds. Others like ReferenceUSA and the Million Dollar Directory compile data on millions of large and small companies, including private firms that don't publish the information themselves. They offer a treasure-trove for job seekers and salespersons. Some of the more expensive data services may be available only at the library itself, but many libraries make them accessible across the Web.
Education and job prep. Web-based Coin3 Career Library offers career planning information and describes what's required to climb into 2,500 different occupations and what might be expected in salaries. Users can dive into assessment quizzes to get automated guidance for careers that might be a good fit, and they can also find tips on building résumés for specific fields. Learning Express Library has online courses for beefing up pre- and post-college math and reading skills, as well as prep courses for college admission tests such as the ACT and SAT. The service also offers courses and practice exams for citizenship tests and for GED tests that can earn the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Kids. Young students can get study help across the Web, and harried parents can entertain them with picture books read aloud to them. Many libraries offer educational games that can boost math and reading skills. And services like TumbleBooks will read from hundreds of well-known picture books, such as No, David and How I Became a Pirate by David Shannon. Narrators read them aloud as words on the page are highlighted. Characters in the illustrations move, but not so much as to distract from the written word. It doesn't top snuggling up with the kids to read them a book, but it's better than plopping them in front of a TV.