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InfoSkills for Theology

InfoSkills @ TiU

Library databases

What is a library database?

You'll see the word 'database' a lot when working through the InfoSkills tutorial, so let's be sure you know what a database is.

A database is a collection of information, specially organized for rapid search and retrieval by a computer. You already use a database when you search for songs in Spotify, for friends on Facebook, or for books in 

A library database includes information about credible documents such as articles from scholarly journals, professional journals, newspapers, or magazines. Some library databases also include information about (e-)books or informally published sources such as working papers and reports.

The full text of publications may or may not be included in a database.

Records & fields

  • Databases are comprised of records representing individual items, for example scholarly articles.

  • Within each record are fields which describe the item. Each field represents a single bit of information about the item, such as the year of publication. 

    Field names may vary, but in library databases the following fields are common:

    • all fields
    • full text
    • title
    • author
    • source (e.g. journal title)
    • publication year
    • publisher
    • abstract
    • keywords (these are often provided by authors)
    • subjects/descriptors (these are database-specific; each database creates a standardized list of words that are used to tag similar documents.  
    • publication type (e.g. journal article)


Here's an example of a record from the database PsycINFO: