What is a library database?
A library database is an online resource that the library (typically) pays for so you can use articles and information from print and digital resources like periodicals such as magazines, newspapers, and journals. More recently databases have been adding multimedia to these resources like audio and video files.
What do they let you do?
In general, all databases let you search through thousands (sometimes millions) of different magazines, journals and newspapers to find articles on a particular topic. Many of the articles you will find are Full Text, which means you can read (or print out) the entire article right there online. Other times the database will only provide you with an abstract, or summary of the article.
More recently, databases have added features that let you organize and share the information in them to help support your research. Some of these new features include the ability to create RSS feeds and alerts that send you a message when new items arrive in the database on a particular topic, some databases like Academic Search Premier have the ability to create folders for you to save your articles and searches, and share them with others, such as people you may be working with on a group projects.
If they are online, are they web sites?
Most things in the databases cannot be usually found be by a regular Google or Yahoo search. Just like the books on our shelves, the library pays to use these resources. You may find a reference to some of these things and unless you want to buy your own subscription, you must go through the library's web site to access them.
There are some exceptions, some databases like GPO Access are free online databases sponsored by the government, the library provides access to them through our web site because they are a valuable resource in addition to our subscription databases. Also, even though most things in databases are not web sites, you can search our databases from the open web.
The library uses the SFX tool that connects our databases together using this button:
This lets you look through all our databases at once.
This button also connects to Google Scholar, so if you search Google Scholar on campus it will tell you what is in our library databases.
A good way to tell which databases are not web sites is by accessing them off campus. Because these most of the databases are subscription services paid for by the library you have to logon using your ecom or university ID.