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Choosing and Using Library Databases

This guide was modified from a UCLA guide published under Creative Commons.

Introduction to Library Databases

A-Z Database ListThe Ferris Library (FLITE) subscribes to over 100 online databases! This guide is designed to help you...

So What Is a Database?

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In Library terminology, a "database" is pretty much any online source of information which has a search engine. Some common types include:

  • Library Catalogs index all of the books and journals owned or subscribed to by a particular institution. (Union catalogs combine the holdings of multiple institutions.) Catalogs typically only describe full books and journals, not individual chapters or articles. Because of this limitation, we also subscribe to...
  • Article Indexes index individual articles within specific academic fields. The journals and books indexed by these databases may or may not be online or even available at UCLA.
  • Online Collections of e-journals and/or e-books, either grouped by the publisher or collected and re-sold in subject-themed packages by "content aggregators."
  • Any of the above may also include or be focused entirely on...
    • specialized content types like reference sources, primary sources, newspapers, dissertations, government documents, technical reports, or standards.
    • non-text materials like statistical data, maps, images, music, or videos.
  • Citation Indexes track who cited specific articles and books.
  • Electronic Discovery Systems attempt (with varying success) to combine multiple databases into a single search engine.

It's also important to note that many of our database licenses are selective: we often subscribe to only a portion of the content available on a given site. Just as we don't purchase copies of every book and journal in print, we don't subscribe to every e-book or online jourrnal available!

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Access to Online Resources

FLITE's online subscription resources can always be accessed from computers and wireless networks on campus. However, off-campus access is restricted to current Ferris students, faculty, and staff. 

Why Isn't There One Search Box for Everything?

For the same reason you can't play football, basketball, and baseball with the same ball.

For a non-metaphorical answer, see this guide from UCLA: Google is a Football.