Barrie Public Library - Enriching our Community

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Using Online Databases

Using Online Databases

Through our Online Databases, we provide access to electronic databases that include the full text of scholarly journals, magazines, major newspapers, encyclopedias and reference books. These are different than doing Internet searches (see how) because of the type of information and sources they provide. 

The library purchases database subscriptions so that you can have access to them free of charge. You can use them in the library and most can be used from home (or any computer with Internet access) with your library card.

Library databases are searchable and provide several search options. You can apply limits and narrow your search to obtain the best results. Generally, the results you get are very relevant. When you are searching the databases, improving your search strategy will help you find high quality information more quickly. Here are a few tips that will help make your search for information in databases more effective:

  • Define your search terms - Start with a basic keyword search. Think of key words and phrases that describe or identify your subject. These terms will be the key words that you want to use in your search. The database will search for all occurrences of the word(s) you enter.
  • Boolean Operators: AND; OR and NOT - Use Boolean operators between terms in your search to narrow or expand your results.
    • AND (i.e. - poverty AND crime) - The AND operator narrows your search and is used to search two or more unrelated concepts. If your search statement is poverty AND crime, you will find articles that contain both of these terms. Using AND will link together the different concepts.
    • OR (i.e. - college OR university) - Using OR will combine your search terms so that the search results contains at least one of the terms. For example, if you search college OR university, the results will contain either college or university. In database searching, OR increases your results and is often used to combine synonyms or like concepts. Enclose OR search statements in parentheses when you are combining Boolean operators. For example, if you search: scholarships AND (college OR university) .
    • NOT (i.e. - high school NOT elementary) - In database searching, NOT is used to exclude a word or words from your results. If you were interested in studying high school students but not elementary students, you could search high school NOT elementary.
  • Truncation (i.e. - child*) - You can expand or control searches using truncation. If you truncate search terms you will retrieve articles containing all the variants of the search term. Use truncation to help you expand your search results. The most common symbol used for truncation is an asterisk (*). For example, child* will search for child, child’s, childhood, children, etc.
  • Using Quotation Marks (i.e. - "violence in sports") - If you enclose a phrase in double quotation marks (“ “), the exact phrase is searched. This is another way to narrow your search results.
  • Limit your results - You can use database limiting features to retrieve fewer and more relevant search results. For example, you can limit your results to include full-text articles only.
  • Review Your Search Strategy - Try different keywords, or repeat your search in a different database. Adapting your search strategy will also improve your results. There will never be just one perfect search for your topic.

If you have any questions or need help searching the databases, please contact us