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Choosing and Using Databases

How to successfully choose and use library databases.

Introduction to Library Databases

LVC Library subscribes to over a hundred and fifty online databases.  This guide will help you:

  • Choose the right database(s)

Know what features to look for when selecting a database.

  • Select useful search words

Learn how to identify search terms that will pull up what you need.

  • Use common advanced search techniques

Although many databases look different at first, most have similar features. Understanding how to use them will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your research.

  • Know what to do when you have too many or too few results.

  • Actually get the full-text of the articles you discover.

What Is a Database?

In Library terminology, a "database" is an online source of organized 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.  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 available at LVC.
  • 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."

  • Citation Indexes track who cited specific articles and books.  Google Scholar shines at this.  Type in the title of one of your "good" articles.  If Google Scholar finds it, you'll see a link to that article appear.  Below that link, click on the CITED BY link.  This'll take you to all the articles within Google Scholar that have cited yours....in the future, after it has been published.

 

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.
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 journal available.

On & Off-Campus Access

You can always access LVC's databases from on-campus. 


Off-campus, however, you'll need to login and you must access LVC's databases from the library's homepage.  After you select a database, a login page will appear. 

  • Use the left login box.
  • Choose LVC from the pull-down. 
  • Login with your LVC username (do not include the @lvc.edu piece) and your LVC password.