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Communication: Selecting Databases

Finding & Selecting Library Databases

Picking a database to search in is like picking which streaming service you are going to use to find a movie to watch. Are you going to look in Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime?

Your information need will help you with making decisions about where to look for information. You may have to try a variety of databases to find what you need. A good rule of thumb is to try 2-3 databases.

Netflix logoHulu logoLogo for Prime Video

To find all of the library's databases:

  • Log into the Portal.
  • Click the "Library" tab at the top.
  • Click on the "Find Databases" link located in the middle of the page, which will take you to the library's Databases A-Z list. You can search for a specific database by name or use the filters to limit the databases by subject area.

To select an appropriate database from the A-Z list using the All Subjects filter: 

Image of database subjects1. Think about your topic.

2. Which of the subjects represented in the Subjects drop-down list does your topic most closely fall under? Health? History? Science? There may be more than one relevant category, and that's okay. Just start with one subject area.

3. After you select a subject area, you will find a list of databases that are good for topics related to the selected subject. But each is different. Read the database descriptions to determine which database contains the kind of information you are interested in.


Let's say you are researching about food deserts.

There may be many different subjects that cover this topic. From Databases A-Z list, which subject areas seem the most relevant?

Agriculture & Plant Science may be a good starting place. 

List of database subjects in which Agriculture & Plant Science is selected

After selecting Agriculture & Plant Science from the drop-down list, we find 15 databases that may be potentially useful for topics related to these areas.

After reading through the database descriptions, you might start your research in GreenFILE, which is focused on issues related to environmental issues, which includes food supply topics. but if you don't find much, you can always search another recommended database.

Description of the GreenFILE database

You may also need to try databases from other potentially relevant subject areas, such as those from Psychology, Political & Social Sciences.