Lesson 3, Part 1: Databases

Objective: Learn about SAPL Databases 

Have you ever helped a customer and found the last book on a subject is checked out? Are you helping a student who needs a lot of articles but your branch is closing soon? Databases provide a wealth of research tools that customers can access from home (with a library card).

What is a database?

Library databases provide access to resources across a wide variety of topics and subject areas. Such as: the arts, genealogy, academic research, home improvement, auto repair, business and much more.

Library databases provide access to published & high quality resources. For example: magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, journals and other resources. Library databases may provide access to full-text articles and/or brief abstracts.

Where do I find the databases?  http://guides.mysapl.org/databases

where do i find databases

How do I talk to customers about databases?

I usually show customers how to sort the database page by category to target the type of research they are doing (legal, medical, student resources, etc). Sorting by a category allows you to present options for research, like medical databases, and also talk about the strengths of each database (for example, medical articles for consumers vs. those for nurses and doctors).

Base your conversation on patron’s interest and depth of research. For example, a student new to research papers may appreciate the simple structure of Opposing Viewpoints in Context, where the researcher may want a more complex and academic database like Academic Search Complete.

Your customer may ask for a “peer reviewed” or “primary resource.” Some databases, like Academic Search Complete, offer these options in the Advanced Search page.

asc with arrow

A peer reviewed resource is a process by which a scholarly work (like a research paper) is checked by a group of experts in the field before it is published.

A primary resource (or original source) is a document, recording, or other source that was created at the time. For example, a letter from a WWII soldier to his family would be considered to be a primary resource from WWII.

Top Databases to try:

Go to each database for a few minutes and explore. Reflect on customers that you helped find books in these topics – would the databases have made a difference in their knowledge or appreciation of a subject?

For Education/Testing:  Learning Express

For Academic Reports: Academic Search Complete

For Legal Forms: Legal Forms

For New & Returning Students: Opposing Viewpoints

For Business Directory lookup: Reference USA

For Reader’s Advisory and Reading for Fun: Novelist


 Now that you’ve practiced the databases, let’s have fun!

Go to three of the databases you explored and research a topic of interest to you. Write a “short story” or poem in your blog (a paragraph or two) that involves elements from all three databases. If you prefer, you can write about a real experience helping a customer in one of our databases.

For example:

Opposing Viewpoints + Reference USA +Learning Express

A lady became concerned about genetic testing at her college, and she wanted to know what her options were.  After reading many Opposing Viewpoints articles, she decided to be a whistle blower and contact her college president (through Reference USA) about her medical ethics concerns, and finished out her college semester by testing out of exams after practicing them on Learning Express.  And she lived happily ever after.

Please name this blog entry: Lesson 3 Part 1 Challenge


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Posted in Lesson 3
2 comments on “Lesson 3, Part 1: Databases
  1. markina17 says:

    This one was fun because we get an opportunity to teach this to our patrons.

  2. maria3satx says:

    Reblogged this on Earth, I am and commented:
    One of the best things about databases is that everything is at your fingertips. An example of this is when I helped someone search for print material on adolescence and the library had limited materials on the shelf but searching through Academic Search Complete, there was a slew of information on the topic along with credits for citation purposes.

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