What is a library database?

  • Library databases contain information from published works.
    • Examples: Magazine and newspaper articles,encyclopedias and other reference books.
  • Library databases are searchable.
    • By Keywords, Subject, Author, Magazine Title, Date, etc.
  • Library databases provide citation information.
    • Author, if available
    • Title of Article
    • Publication (Title of Magazine, Newspaper, or Reference Book)
    • Publisher
    • Date of Publication
  • Library databases often contain full-text articles.
    • You can print or email an entire article.
  • There are different kinds of library databases
    • For specific topics. Examples: Biography Resource Center , New Book of Popular Science
    • For general topics Examples: ProQuest, World Book Online
  • Library databases are paid for by taxpayer dollars.


How is a library database different from a website?

Library databases Web sites
Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field. Web sites can be written by anyone regardless of expertise.
Library databases contain published works where facts are checked. Web site content is not necessarily checked by an expert.
Library databases are easy to cite in a bibliography and may create the citation for you. Web sites often don’t provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.
Library databases can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects. Web sites often aren’t organized to support student research needs.
Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication. Web sites may not indicate when a page is updated.


Questions to ask about ANY information:

  • Currency: How recent is the information, and when was it last updated?
  • Organization: Is it easy to find the information you need?
  • Accuracy: How reliable is the information, and are the facts accurate?
  • Bibliography: How easy is the work to cite in a bibliography? Does it give you the author, title, publisher, and date?
  • Unfamiliar Topics: How useful is it when you don’t know where to start?
  • Languages: How easily can the work provide languages other than English?

Any source, whether a library database or website, can have good information. It is necessary to think critically about all information that you read or view.


How to access Library databases?

  • You can find databases from our main homepage ( by clicking on "Find Answers" and then Databases, or "Subject Guides" for a subject approach to your research.
  • The databases are available free in all branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (except where noted). Most databases can be viewed from your home, school, or any computer which has internet access. It is still free!
  • To logon to a database outside the library click on the database title and, when prompted, enter your library card number (this is located under the bar code on the back of your library card). Click the ‘Login’ button to be forwarded to your selected database.
  • Need more help? Your local Enoch Pratt Free Library is ready to help you with your research needs. You can "Ask a Librarian" in person, on the phone, online, or by email. For more information on how to contact a librarian go to and select "Contact us". For more help in using our databases remotely please use our Common Problems Accessing Databases from a Home Computer tip sheet.

This page courtesy of Hennepin County Library.