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What are databases?: Home

What is a Database

What is a library database?

  • Library databases contain information from published works.
    • Examples: Magazine and newspaper articles, encyclopedias and other reference books.
  • Library databases are searchable.
    • By Keywords, Subject, Author, Magazine Title, Date, etc.
  • Library databases provide citation information.
    • Author, if available
    • Title of Article
    • Publication (Title of Magazine, Newspaper, or Reference Book)
    • Publisher
    • Date of Publication
  • Library databases often contain full-text articles.
    • You can print or email an entire article.
  • There are different kinds of library databases
    • For specific topics. Examples: Biography Resource Center , Business Source Complete, Consumer Health Complete
    • Multidisciplinary databases Examples: Academic Search Complete, Opposing Viewpoints, Gal Virtual Reference
  • Library databases are paid for by taxpayer dollars.

How is a library database different from a website?

Library Database Websites
Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field. Web sites can be written by anyone regardless of expertise.
Library databases contain published works where facts are checked. Web site content is not necessarily checked by an expert.
Library databases are easy to cite in a bibliography and may create the citation for you. Web sites often don’t provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.
Library databases can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects. Web sites often aren’t organized to support student research needs.
Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication. Web sites may not indicate when a page is updated.

Questions to ask about ANY Information

  • Currency: How recent is the information, and when was it last updated?
  • Organization: Is it easy to find the information you need?
  • Accuracy: How reliable is the information, and are the facts accurate?
  • Bibliography: How easy is the work to cite in a bibliography? Does it give you the author, title, publisher, and date?
  • Unfamiliar Topics: How useful is it when you don’t know where to start?
  • Languages: How easily can the work provide languages other than English?

Any source, whether a library database or website, can have good information. It is necessary to think critically about all information that you read or view.