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Integrating Intersectionality into Library Instruction & Programming: Option B: Selecting Databases

Presented at Library Instruction West 2018, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado

For LIW 2018 Attendees

This is the option I prefer. I realize that there is a time and place for directories, but since this is first-year writing, I'd like for them to discover that there are more databases beyond Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar, and Melvyl, our local catalog.

Like in Option A, I start by asking if anyone knows where they would go to find all of the library databases on the homepage of the library website (we currently have a tabbed search box at the top-right of every library webpage), and I then I demonstrate how to find all of the library databases. I show them the A-Z list, and how they can select certain subject areas, such as sociology. When students select a subject, the results will typically provide 2-3 "best bets" at the top of the results list. In this case, one of the recommendations is Sociological Abstracts.

Next, I then have students list two databases, beyond Sociological Abstracts, that seem helpful into a Google Sheet. I ask them to think about their topic and run subject searches using the database A-Z list to find two recommended databases beyond those listed in sociology. They also have to tell me why they seem helpful. After class, I go back in and provide some more suggestions if needed.

Databases to Get Started

How do I find databases?

Learn how to find databases and how to narrow down by database subject area, full-text availability, etc. (1:14)

How do I choose a database?

It can be overwhelming to choose a database to search, but using the subject filter and database type filter to find databases related to your topic and the type of information that you need will help. Reading through the database descriptions is key.

Intersectionality is Interdisciplinary

Many of the topics you are interested in don't fit into neat discipline categories. Because different databases subscribe to different content, you will want to search in a few to get the most out of your search for information.

For my sample topic about black women and the black power movement, I should also search in history and political science databases to see what else I might find.


Please fill out your assigned row on the Google Sheet.

  • Think of a few subject areas (disciplines, majors, etc.) in addition to sociology that potentially relate to your topic/question.
  • Using the databases A-Z list, run a subject search to see which databases are suggested for those subject areas.
  • In Column F, list the names of two databases that could be helpful to search in.
  • In Column G, briefly explain why these seem helpful to search in.