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Introduction to Library Research

Databases

What is a Library Database?

A library database is an electronic collection of information, organized to allow users to get that information by searching in various ways.

Examples of Database information

  • Articles from magazines, newspapers, peer-reviewed journals and more.  More unusual information such as medical images, audio recitation of a poem, radio interview transcripts, and instruction video can be found in databases as well.

  • General reference information such as that found in an encyclopedia.  Both very broad topic information is available as well as very specific.

  • Books.  Online versions, eBooks, are the same as print versions with some enhancements at times, such as an online glossary.  

Why not just use Google?

What’s the difference?

  • Information in a database has been tagged with all sorts of data, allowing you to search much more effectively and efficiently.  You can search by author, title, keyword, topic, publication date, type of source (magazine, newspaper, etc.) and more.

  • Database information has been evaluated in some way, ranging from a very rigorous peer-review publishing process to an editor of a popular magazine making a decision to publish an article. 

  • Databases are purchased, and most of the information is not available for free on the internet. The databases are continually updated as new information is produced.

  • Citation information.  Databases include the information you need to properly cite your sources and create your bibliography.  Information you retrieve using Google may or may not have this information.

My professor says I can’t use the Internet.  Can I still use these databases?

Yes!  The internet is only the delivery system for the databases.  The information in the databases is not found on the free web.