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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 7
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A database is an organized collection of information, usually pertaining to a particular subject, which offers online search features so users can retrieve information about specific items. In many ways, databases are like well-organized filing cabinets, which can be electronically searched.

Commercial publishers (also called vendors) create and sell database subscriptions. They also choose each database's software, contents (subjects and periodicals to include), and search features. Tarleton libraries purchase subscriptions to databases based on campus curriculum, patrons' needs, and collection policies.

Subscription databases offer content that has undergone more screening for quality than much of the information that is freely available on the Internet. Also, subscription databases offer a wide array of scholarly journals; therefore, information in these databases is usually credible and written by authors with expertise in their fields. In addition, searches in subscription databases often yield more relevant results than can be obtained by searching the Internet.

The components of this unit discuss and illustrate the following aspects of using Tarleton libraries' subscription databases:

•  understanding how databases work,
•  accessing databases,
•  choosing appropriate databases,
•  locating search assistance,
•  searching databases,
•  developing database search strategies, and
•  understanding search results lists and item records.
The last parts of this unit offer activities related to Unit 7 topics and a review.

After completing this unit, you should be able to
•  choose databases based on specific information needs,
•  execute effective searches in databases,
•  understand elements of search results lists and item records,
•  use item records to determine an item's potential value for specific research needs, and
•  obtain assistance when needed.

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