A database is simply an organized, searchable collection of information. The U.S. Census online is an example of a database that is available on the Web for anyone to use free of charge, but there are many databases whose creators charge for access. BPL subscribes to dozens of these for your use, just as we purchase books and other materials for you to borrow at no cost.
These subscription databases contain articles, images, music files, skillbuilding exercises, and other data and tools. Sources range from encyclopedias to newspapers to magazines and scholarly journals to business directories. If you have an active Brooklyn Public Library card and an internet connection, you can access them from the Articles & Databases section of our website.
Why use a library database? There's a lot of useful information out there that's not freely available. A practice SAT test or GED exam, a Consumer Reports article, a company profile, a career assessment - these are all examples of things that might not be on the open Web but are accessible through BPL's website. If you search in Google Scholar and find an article that you'd like to read but is not available freely through the publisher's website, look up the journal title in the BPL catalog or ask a librarian whether you might have free access through one of the library's subscription databases.
At the Library
Look for a database class at a BPL location near you.
The Instructional Videos section of BPL's YouTube channel includes demonstrations of how to use selected subscription databases.
Handouts and Guides
BPL's Articles & Databases section includes a guide to the "what" and "why" of databases versus Web search engines.
Recommended Online Resources
What's a Library Database? (RMIT University)
Keyword Searching in Library Databases (University of Missouri-St. Louis)
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