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Bibliographic Databases

Learning Objectives
• Define identify, and provide examples of databases.
• Define bibliographic database and identify the parts of a bibliographic record.
• Define and identify types of databases including full-text database, periodical index, abstracting service, image database, and archival database.
• Define restricted-access database and provide examples of subscription electronic database services and specific database examples.
• Identify and locate professional journals for librarians.
• Discuss criteria for matching databases in information needs.
• Define the open Web. Provide examples of open Web databases.
• Distinguish among an OPAC, a restricted-access database, and the open Web.

Information professionals create and maintain specialized databases to facilitate useful and efficient research in sources beyond the library catalog.

A database, sometimes called an electronic database, is a file of digitized information related to a particular subject. It consists of records with a consistent format organized for information retrieval. Librarians often purchase subscriptions to databases.

Databases have come a long way in recent years from text-only articles to items containing images, audio, and video, along with a wide range of tools including options to print, download, translate, and cite items.

Databases have their own search engines that are used to locate information.

Bibliographic Database

databaseA bibliographic database is a file of uniform records. Each record includes a citation for specific document or bibliographic item such as a journal article.

Information is usually retrieved by author, title, subject heading, or keyword(s).

A bibliographic database is a stand-alone, discrete entity.

Many of these databases are subscription-based services and provide full-text of the sources indexed.

Databases are available on a wide range of topics.

Bibliographic Entry

A bibliographic record is an entry in a bibliographic database or a library catalog. It provides a uniform description of a specific item necessary for identification and retrieval.


Bibliographic Database Options

An increasing number of databases are including advanced features such as audio options, bookmark, download, share, citation tools, email, print, dictionary, and other options.


Database Options

Bibliographic databases allow online access to sources such as scholarly journal articles, newspaper stories, conference proceedings, and images.

Because information professionals understand how bibliographic databases are constructed, they also know how to build effective strategies to search them.

When evaluating databases, consider the skills and needs of library users. Seek out user-friendly interfaces that provide high quality information, as well as useful features such as options for printing, downloading, and citing works.
Notice the features in the example below from CQ Researcher.


Full-Text Database

A full-text database provides access to an entire work such as an encyclopedia or the articles in one or more publications.

Libraries provide access to free as well as subscription-based services to a wide range of different databases.

SIRS Issues from ProQuest (see example below) is popular with K-12 researchers exploring social and cultural issues.


Periodical Index

A periodical index is a database of article citations accessed by author and subject. In some cases, the index links to full-text articles.

These indexes are normally devoted to a particular academic discipline or type of publication.

ProQuest Criminal Justice is a periodical index containing research on crime, its causes and impacts, legal and social implications, as well as litigation and crime trends.

ProQuest Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals contains a listing of journal articles on architecture since 1934.

Abstracting Service

An abstracting service is a commercial (normally subscription-based) indexing service that provides a citation and summary or the content of each item.

They are normally associated with particular academic disciplines.

EMBASE (see example below) is a peer-reviewed literature database containing more than 25 million records from over 7600 journals. It contains citations and abstracts related to the life sciences.


Image Database

An image database is a searchable collection of photographs, illustrations, and/or other types of graphic representations in a digital format.

AP Images (see example below) contains thousands of images from the well-respected news organization.


Archival Database

An archival database is a digital collection of information stored for future reference.

LISTSERV e-mail distribution list contents are often archive. For instance, many of the ALA divisions archive their postings.

JSTOR is an example of an archival journal database.


Restricted Access Database

Many restricted access databases provide access to periodicals. These are often subscription-based services.

Periodicals are also known as serials are publications issued at regular internals such as newspapers, magazines, and journals.

The advantage of periodicals over books for research is that they are published frequently, often contain timely information, and focus on particular areas of interest.

Types of Journals

Periodicals are divided into three types: scholarly, popular, and trade.

Scholarly journals are aimed at scholarly researchers and are written by experts in their field. They are often peer-reviewed and usually contain bibliographies.

Popular magazines are aimed at a broad audience, are not peer reviewed, and may contain cited works, but not bibliographies.

Trade journals provide practical information for professionals in a particular industry. They are not peer-reviewed and may contain cited works, but not bibliographies.


Popular Subscription Databases

Many popular subscription databases are provided to libraries free through the state. Each state has their own system. For instance, in Utah it’s called Pioneer and in Georgia it’s called GALILEO. Go to Other States for a list.

Indiana’s system is called INSPIRE. This service of the Indiana State Library is available to Indiana residents. When you’re using the IUPUI library, some of the databases are actually sponsored by INSPIRE.

Try It!
Go through the process of creating an account.
Go to INSPIRE information for a list of their databases.
Spend some time exploring INSPIRE.

Database Services

databasesThere are an endless array of databases available for library users. Librarians need to know what’s available to make effective recommendations.

Explore some of the more popular subscription services. You should know the “big names” in database services.

You can access these services using IUPUI’s A to Z database list.

Try It!
Explore IUPUI’s A to Z database list. Pick out a few databases of interest to explore.

Database Services and Libraries

In addition to helping others, librarians also use databases themselves. For instance, book information and review databases are popular.


Many professional journals provide professional reviews and up-to-date professional information. Most are available through ProQuest, Gale, and EBSCO. An easy way to access them is through Citation Linker. Just enter the title of the journal. Explore the following popular journals in the area of information and library science.

Try It!
Go to Citation Linker. Look up a specific article from a journal. Search for an author in a particular journal.

Professional Journals

Graduate students are often asked to locate, use and cite professional articles related to the area of library and information science. You must become familiar with well-respected journals to be success in the graduate program.

Some journals are available free online and others can be accessed through databases. Use Citation Linker to quickly locate journals and articles. Create a list, then explore a few that you think might be useful in your area of interest.

Open Web Databases

Many databases are available on the Web for free. While some of these free sources of information are sponsored by educational and nonprofit organizations, others are government supported.

Wikipedia may be the most used database. This collaboratively constructed online encyclopedia is available in many languages. Participants may use the resources or log-in to add pages and edit existing resources. Strict guidelines ensure consistency and a review process ensures accuracy.

Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is an example of a reference database that focuses on careers.

Data.Gov is a website from the United States government providing access to thousands of data sets containing government data and information.

OPAC vs Restricted Access Databases

woman computerAn OPAC is a catalog of the materials available in a specific physical and/or virtual library. The public catalog can usually be freely searched online, however circulation of items in the catalog is limited to qualified library users such as those with a library card or students at a university.

A restricted-access database is only available to those with a library card number or a password. In some cases, the database license requires that users access the database from the physical library. These types of restrictions are common in medical, legal, and corporate library settings.

Many databases are available on the open Web. These databases can be searched by anyone with an Internet connection. No physical or virtual connection to the library is necessary.

Try It!
Select a topic and compare your findings using all three types of databases. How do they compare?

Matching Needs with Databases

Librarians must be able to match specific databases with particular information needs. While some databases are more useful for scholarly activities, others are intended for other purposes such as those geared for children or the general public.

ArtStor is an outstanding database for those interested in art.




A database is a file of digitized information related to a particular subject. It consists of records with a consistent format organized for information retrieval.

Commonly used databases in libraries including the OPAC, restricted access databases, and open web databases.

Many scholarly, popular, and trade journals are available through database services.

Librarians need to be aware of popular journals in the library profession.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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