Prince William Public Libraries’ Digital Library features nearly 100 different databases, digital platforms and streaming services, offering a wide range of products and services for an equally wide range of interests.
Car enthusiasts and automotive mechanics alike have relied on their local public library to provide reference works on repairing and maintenance of cars, trucks and motorcycles. In the past, the shelves of reference sections bulged with diagram-and-logistics crammed manuals. For modern library users needing to change a set of spark plugs or something more challenging, your library has a couple of online resources to meet your needs.
For decades, Chilton guides were a staple for car enthusiasts and mechanics, and libraries often carried them.
Chilton no longer publishes those guides, but for years they have provided the information in their “ChiltonLibrary” subscription database, available on our Digital Library.
ChiltonLibrary provides repair, maintenance and diagnostic information on hundreds of vehicles by make, model, year, engine size and other variables. For each vehicle, the database provides tables for maintenance schedules, as well as specifications for parts. The manuals are searchable, and diagrams can be printed.
The database also includes a video library with quick tutorials on important auto maintenance tasks, a VIN decoder to check numbers and a library of test prep quizzes for aspiring mechanics for the ASE Technicians Test.
Finally, an “Ask an Expert” feature allows patrons to submit questions to on-call staff technicians, either through email submission or a phone call.
The library also offers the “ProDemand” from Mitchell 1, another longtime auto manual publisher. ProDemand is geared toward auto shops and professionals, which means that the information is more detailed, and there are more charts and diagrams for many makes and models.
The database was also designed for single use by a shop, so, unfortunately, the subscriptions are not accessible online, only onsite at any of our 12 branches.
You can access the database at any public access computer, called PACs, in the library. Click “Log In” to get instant access; no username or password is needed.
While ChiltonLibrary is in some ways more user-friendly and has extra features for serious car people doing serious work, ProDemand is worth the extra trouble.
If you’re an experienced “gearhead” tackling a major repair or simply a driver who would like to save a few dollars and have a little more control over keeping your car on the road, your local library has the digital support you need. Get started at pwcva.gov/digitallibrary.
Kirk Johnson is a manager in the Prince William Public Libraries’ material services division.