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Research Guides

WRIT 189: Who Are We Online? The Constructed Self

Bryant and Darling, Spring 2021

Intro to Library Databases

What is a database?

Databases are resources that contain information that is organized to make it easier to search and access.

The most common kind of library databases contain articles from academic journals and other publications, but there are many kinds of databases--databases for images, videos, data, news, and many other kinds of sources!

Why should I use a library database?

  • Databases contain information not available through general internet search engines (such as Google)
    • Many articles that are usually behind paywalls can be accessed through library databases. Wellesley College subscribes to over 300 different databases!
  • Databases are often specialized by subject area (such as history, sociology, art, film/media studies, psychology, etc.)
    • Searching in subject-specific databases means you're more likely to find relevant sources 
    • Subject-specific databases often offer special filters or search features designed to help researchers in that subject find what they need
      • For example, in a history database, you might be able to limit your search results to those covering a particular historical period.

Key Databases

When searching, skimming items you come across in your results can be a key way to evaluate whether they will be a useful source for your writing. See UNC Chapel Hill's guide to skimming for tips.