Database FAQs

Q: What is a database?
A: A Research Database is an online tool for searching magazines, academic journals, or reference books. A database may include information about how to fix your car, provide practice for standardized tests like the GED, or give you access to a library of legal forms. Although they are often accessed over the Internet, databases are not websites -- libraries and other institutions pay to provide them to their patrons. This means that you usually can use the information you find in our databases for your school papers.

Q: What are databases for? What's in a database?
A: Most databases are used to search for articles from periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers). Some index the contents of books and encyclopedias (like World Almanacs or Literature Resource Center). Some have special functions (i.e. Chilton Library, which provides car maintenance and repair information, or Learning Express Library, which lets users take practice exams).

Q: How do I access a Westland database outside the library?
A: All databases that are available from outside the library are followed by a link with an image of a house. After you click that link you will be prompted to type in your Westland library card number, which will lead you to the database you selected. All patrons with a valid Westland library card should be able to access the databases with home access links when they're outside the library. You will also have to use the house link when accessing databases using the Wi-Fi inside the library.

Q: How do I know which database to use?
A: You can read the short content descriptions that accompany the database links on our databases by subject page, or ask a librarian to suggest the best database for your particular search.

Q: What is full-text?
A: Full-text articles provide, word for word, what you’ll find in a print copy of a magazine, newspaper, or reference book. In many cases full-text articles will also contain images and charts and may even be available as PDF (Adobe Acrobat Reader) copies of the original print source.

Q: What is a citation?
A: A citation provides information about an article, book, or other item -- title, author, publication date, etc. -- but does not present the item itself. A citation gives the essential information about an item that allows anyone to locate a copy of that item.

Q: What is an abstract?
A: An abstract is a condensed version of a longer piece of writing that highlights the writing's major points.

Q: Why isn't everything in full-text?
A: Older articles are less likely to be available in full-text -- digitization often proves prohibitively expensive for publishers and database companies. Questions of copyright and licensing may also prevent full-text availability.

If you have any questions about our Research Databases, please don't hesitate to ask our Reference Librarians, at the Reference Desk or on the phone (734-326-6123).

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