Research databases are electronic resources that contain an organized body of related information from a wide range of well-known, authoritative sources. Although they are distributed via the Web, traditional search engines such as Google or Yahoo cannot easily retrieve the content (magazine and newspaper articles, reference books, television and radio broadcast transcripts, maps, photographs, pamphlets, etc.) in these resources. The scope of coverage varies—some databases such as ProQuest are very broad, others such as the History Resource Center or MEDLINE are more specialized. The intended audience can vary as well. Some databases are designed to serve the research needs of a broad range of users; others (Opposing Viewpoints or Kids InfoBits) are designed expressly for students.
What is the difference between using a database and doing a search on Google?
The information in databases has been reviewed and edited and comes from reliable, authoritative sources. Google returns results from public websites. Although there is an enormous volume of information on the Web, no oversight exists to guarantee the information retrieved is accurate, objective, and current.
How do I know which one to use?
If you are looking for material on a particular topic (for example, a biography of Ben Franklin, a book review, or a newspaper article about mad cow disease), start with the appropriate subject category on the main page. Each database is accompanied by a brief description of its contents. If you aren’t sure where to look first, start with a general, all-purpose resource such as EBSCOhost or General Reference Center Gold. If you are conducting scholarly, in-depth research, FirstSearch is a useful starting point. Once you become familiar with our collection of resources, you can go directly to them by using the “A to Z” button.
Is there any charge for using them?
No. The Library has purchased subscriptions to these databases, so they can be provided free of charge to our customers. Library cardholders can also access the majority of the databases from home. There is a 15-cent per page fee for printing in the Library.
How do I access them from home?
You must have your Library card number and PIN to access these resources from your home, office, or school. Each database has different requirements, so instructions may vary. Your Library card number is the eight-digit number below the barcode on the back of your red Library card. Unless you have changed it, your PIN is the last four digits of the phone number that you gave us when you applied for your card.
Which browser and settings do I need to access the databases?
How do I print articles?
Although you can use the print button on your browser, most of the databases have a print function on their interface that reformats the text of the article to reduce the number of printed pages. This saves time and, if you are using the databases in the Library, money.
Can I email articles or citations to myself?
Yes, the majority of the databases give you the option of emailing the article to yourself or saving it to disk.
Why can’t I use some of the databases from home?
The licensing restrictions of some vendors prevent us from offering our customers “remote access” to the resource. In isolated situations, the costs associated with remote access are prohibitive.
I followed all of the instructions on the screen and still can’t connect. What’s the problem?
If the error message is about your Library card number or PIN, call the Circulation Services Department at 513-369-6913. If your card number and PIN are accepted, but the database asks you for another username and password, see the note above about Internet privacy software. Still having trouble? Call (513-369-4599) or email the Computer Services Help Desk. They will be happy to assist you.
I searched for information in all the logical places and I still can’t find what I’m looking for. What now?
Call your local library and a reference librarian will be happy to assist you!