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Duluth Public Library
520 W. Superior St.
Duluth, MN 55802
218-730-4200

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Databases v. Websites - What's the Difference?

Databases:

  • contain information that has been published in other forms, such as magazine and newspaper articles,encyclopedias and other reference materials.
  • can be searched by Author, Title of Magazine/Newspaper, Subject, Date, Keyword, etc.
  • often contain full-text articles (the complete version of the published article). You can often print or email an entire article.
  • can be on specific subjects (for example: Chilton auto repair, Biography in Context, Consumer Health Complete) or for general topics (examples are Britannica Online, World Almanac, ProQuest Newstand).
  • are usually subscriptions the library pays for. The subscriptions may be paid by tax dollars or by special gift funds. Some of our databases are developed and maintained by Duluth Public Library staff (Obituary Index, Duluth Newspaper Index, How Do I Contact, Biography File Index, Regional Magazine Index, War Casualties and P.O.W.s)

How is a library database different from a website?

Databases
Websites
Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field. Websites may be published by anyone, regardless of expertise
Library databases contain published works where facts are checked. Website content is not necessarily checked by an expert.
Library databases are easy to cite in a bibliography and may create the citation for you. Websites may not provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.
Library databases can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects. Websites often aren't organized to support a user's research needs.
Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication. Websites may not indicate when a page is updated.

Any source, whether a library database or website, can have good information. It is necessary to think critically of all information that you read or view.

How to think critically about information:

Currency: How recent is the information, and when was it last updated?
Organization: Is it easy to locate the information you need?
Accuracy: How reliable is the information, and are the facts accurate?
Bibliography: How easy is the source to cite in a bibliography? Does it give you the author, title, publisher, and date?
Unfamiliar Topics: How useful is it when you don't know where to start?
Languages: How easily can the source provide languages other than English?

Page Last Modified: 1/6/2014
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