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How to Do Library Research

Isn't Everything on the Internet?

Nope. It's important to check for sources in subscription databases and catalogs, too.

Isn't the Web the biggest and best database?

The Web isn't actually a database because it isn't really organized or consistent.

So, then, what is a database?

A database is a collection of logically related records that can be read by a computer. Computerized address books and online library catalogs are examples of commonly used databases.

Why do I need databases if everything I need can be found on the Web?

There is a tremendous amount of information that is NOT available on the web. Even if information is delivered via the Web, it may not be free. This is what is known as the "invisible" or "deep" web. 

Not even through Google?

Google only indexes a small portion of the Internet. The library has access to subscription databases that can give you much more -- and better-- information!

Graphic showing the Google can search 20% of visible web, but the rest is behind paywalls or other barriers

Better? Is what I find in a database more reliable than what is found on the Web?

Generally, yes. Information in a database has at least been selected by editors. For periodical databases, the articles were printed first in a magazine, journal, or newspaper that had editors. Many databases add value to the content by organizing it and by adding subjects.

In contrast, anyone can put up anything on the Web. Some of it is edited, selected, and monitored, but much of it is not. And the formats can vary widely so it is sometimes hard to know exactly what it is you have found. 

Are there other databases that I can access elsewhere?

Besides the ones we feature on our webpage, CCAD subscribes to many others. You can find them here: Electronic Resources by A-Z & Subject. You can also search LibGuides by subject here: 

The Columbus Metropolitan Library also has resources you might find useful, especially business databases. You'll need a CML library card to access them from home.

Lastly, please keep in mind that not everything is available online. Books are still important sources for your research needs.

Adapted from

Which Sources to Use?