Former editor of Wired and all around Web cool guy Kevin Kelly has a great write up promoting the use of libraries' remote access databases. He's selected them as a cool tool.
This vast store of knowledge is found on the Invisible Web -- that part of the WWW that hides behind passwords and subscription fees, and is beyond the grasp of Google (although Google Scholar is working on this). This part of the web holds the databases that professionals and librarians pay to search...
There are several ways to get to this stuff as an individual. 1) You can call a public librarian to do the occasional search. 2) You can purchase a subscription to a database vendor for personal access, or 3) You can use a digital library card for web access from your home via your local library system. For most of us, #3 is the way to go.
Here's the full post, titled "Digital Library Cards"