Skip to Main ContentCaldwell University Jennings Library Banner

EN 111: College Writing

Introduction to Library Databases

What is a database?

A database stores information according to some system of organization.

What's an example of a database?

Your phone's contacts are a database. The contacts system stores phone numbers, names, etc., and you can find them by searching.

What does a library database store?

A library database stores information about resources—books, journals, videos—and often also stores the resources themselves. You can find resources about your topic by searching. 

How do I use a library database for an assignment?

Search for a term or terms—you might need to do several searches!—related to your topic. You will find news articles, academic journal articles, videos, and more about that topic. Once you have search results, you will have to decide which ones you will read or watch. Then, you will decide which sources contribute to your paper. The strategies on the Assessing Sources page can help you decide which sources to use for your paper and how to use them.

Library Search Tools

Library Search

Find Reference Sources

Find Quantitative Data

Find News & Popular Sources

Find Scholarly Sources

Library databases have a variety of advanced search functions. One function is Boolean operators, like AND and OR.

  • AND allows you to combine topics: a search for "this" and "that" returns documents that have both "this" and "that" in them, like the middle of a Venn diagram for "this" and "that".
  • OR allows you to search for multiple similar terms at once. In the example below, "women's empowerment", "women's rights", and "gender equity" are not exactly the same thing, but they are related concepts. Connecting these similar terms with OR searches for any one of these terms.

two search boxes connected with and; the first search box reads women's empowerment OR women's rights OR gender equity; the second search box reads economic development OR economic growth

Start your search in one of these databases: