Online databases

The term “online databases” refers to a collection of collections of resources, many of which have distinct finding tools and features.  Try to think of them as search apps so students connect the resources more readily with their function.  They can be used for leisure (there’s an arts and crafts online database), reference (there’s tons of straight factual information), and research (there’s lots of critical analyses and in-depth information).  Which database you use will depend on your subject, your topic, the ability of the end user, and the features that you require.

You will likely have to explain to your users why databases are more efficient than Google!  Some librarians suggest using Google to garner some search terms before using a search app.  When you do, you can point out how many hits Google pulls up, some of which are irrelevant, some of which are erroneous, and some of which are flat out phony hits designed to get you to an advertisement.  Search apps, on the other hand, are curated.  That means the database publisher is making sure that the resources are relevant and from a reputable source.  And there are no annoying pop-ups!

The search apps are paid for from three different entities.  INSPIRE databases are paid for by the State Library and are available statewide.  Marion County Internet Library (MCIL) databases are paid for by a grant from the Library Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation and are available county-wide.  Another 21 databases are paid for by IndyPL and are available only to people who are in a branch library or who have a library card which allows them to access the databases from anywhere.

IndyPL has an eResources Librarian who reviews all of our online databases to make sure we are selecting the best resources for all our patrons and being good stewards of the funds used to purchase them. 

To get to the online databases, you can bookmark or create a shortcut from the Library’s Research page on the website. 

There are several different publishers of the online databases.  Usually, publishers will have the same “look” for the databases they publish.  Users can now search all but five of all of these databases at once.  As of this writing, 546,877,470 full text articles were available for FREE.  Look for features such as the ability to save to your Google Drive, create a permanent link to the article, translate it into a different language, have it read out loud to you, or build a citation in your style of choice.

The best way to get to know the databases is use them.  Make sure that your teachers know about them.  Before they decide to use them in a class, they need to check that the information they want students to find is available in the online database.  They are not all-inclusive.