The Copley Library

Online Resources for Middle School Boys

Trustworthy Sites: Databases

What is a library database? A library database is an organized collection of information (such as articles from magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals), which has been checked for accuracy and reliability by publishers and then licensed for distribution in an online/electronic format. Many sources included in the database come from known print sources that publishers sell to the databases. For example, the New York Times is a known newspaper, the articles from which are indexed and included in a full-text online format in various databases. Databases can be found in different formats and can be accessed via the internet using browsers. Because libraries pay to have access to databases, often times passwords are required to be able to access the information contained within them.

What is the main difference between using library databases and search engines? Databases are not the internet. We access databases with internet browsers but we are not searching the internet. The internet is a collection of computer networks, which share different types of information worldwide. The World Wide Web is a very small part of the internet that is made up of sites or documents that allow us to share internet information. We access internet information through URL addresses and/or search engines. When we search the internet for information, we can end up with hundreds of “hits” or pages of information, both good and bad. Since anyone can publish online, there is a large amount of information which is unsafe, unreliable, inaccurate, outdated and biased. Being able to select good quality information takes time and knowledge of how to evaluate information. Library databases, on the other hand, contain edited, published material, often scholarly, and collected for an educational use, and subscribed to by schools because it is judged to be useful to the curriculum. Databases are more credible because publishers have checked the contents for accuracy and reliability, and it is easier and a quicker way to find good, trustworthy information.

As members of the Massachusetts Library System, Eaglebrook School has access to a large number of databases covering a variety of subject areas. For ease of use, library staff have organized the databases according to the subject matter. Some databases cover more than one subject area, so may be listed under more than one subject heading.

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