Skip to Main Content

Orientation: Database vs. Internet


What is a Library Database?


  • Library databases contain information from published works.
    • Examples: Magazine and newspaper articles,encyclopedias and other reference books.
  • Library databases are searchable.
    • By Keywords, Subject, Author, Magazine Title, Date, etc.
  • Library databases provide citation information..
    • Author, if available
    • Title of Article
    • Publication (Title of Magazine, Newspaper, or Reference Book)
    • Publisher
    • Date of Publication
  • Library databases often contain full-text articles.
    • You can print or email an entire article.
  • There are different kinds of library databases
    • For specific topics. Examples: LitFinder, ABC CLIO 
    • For general topics Examples: ProQuest, World Book Online

Information provided by Hennepin County Library

Database vs. Internet

Library databases
Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field. Websites may be written 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 often don't 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 student's research needs.
Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication. Websites may not indicate when a page is updated.

From Hennepin County Library

When do I????

Use the Library's Article Databases when you:

  • Need to find scholarly journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper
        articles and information not indexed or available on the web.
  • Want to save time on your research. A database provides provides one-stop
        access to credible information specific to your topic, instead of searching
        through thousands of web pages.
  • Are looking for biographical information
  • Are looking for statistical information
  • Are looking for encyclopedic overviews of topics


Use a the Internet when you:

  • Want to visit a specific website
  • Want to access digital collections
  • Want to access government information
  • Want to access commercial sites
  • Want to see advertisements
  • Want instant access to today's news
  • Want to find information on organizations, groups, personal web pages
        related to a topic.