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Databases : What Is a Database

DATABASES BASICS

What is a library database?

  • A library database is an electronic (online) catalog,  index, and/or full-text of the published items
  • Library databases are searchable
  • The library subscribes to many databases so the Cal State LA community has access to these resources.  When you're searching a database, you are not searching "the web".

What types of items are covered by library databases?

  • Articles in Journals/Magazines/Newspapers
  • Reference Information (i.e. entries from Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, etc.)
  • eBooks
  • Documents including primary sources
  • Media including streaming videos, streaming music, images, and art works
  • Data, data sets, and statistics 
  • Open Access journals, magazine, and ebooks that you can access without login  

What types of information do library databases provide?

  • Databases provide citation information about the items they index. A citation typically consists of:
    • Author's name
    • Title of Article
    • Source (i.e. Title of the Journal/Magazine/Newspaper)
    • Publisher
    • Date of Publication
  • Some library databases also provide abstracts of the items they index.  An abstract is a brief summary of the article.
  • And some library databases provide the full text (the entire article) for items they index.

How do library databases differ in what they cover?
Some library databases index items from many subject areas. If you're not sure which database to choose, the Academic Search Complete database is a good place to start.  Most library databases index items from a specific subject (i.e. academic discipline). To locate a database by subject, go to the Database page, select databases by subject. 

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300
323-343-3988