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Differences between Library Databases
& the Internet Handout
What is the Internet?
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard
Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks
that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of
local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking
technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services,
such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure
to support email. 1
Information on the Internet is not organized into searchable fields. However, there are search engines.
programs that act as indexes for the Internet. Search engines attempt to locate web pages with
desired information by searching for keywords in which a user specifies. The method for finding this
information is usually done by maintaining indices of Web resources that can be queried for the
keywords entered by the user. These lists are either built from specific resource lists or created by
Web programs, with insect names like bots, spiders, crawlers, and worms. More and more search
engines provide search directories. After locating web pages, the web pages are arranged by
subjects. Instead of searching with keywords an Internet user can go to a directory and click on the
subject they want to see.
What is a library database?
Databases are massive collections of data which allow for retrieval of the data. Library databases consist
primarily of indexes, abstracts, and full-text material. They are collections of eBooks and articles from
newspapers, magazines and journals and electronic reference sources. In many cases, the material
provided through these services had previously been available in print form. Vendors provide the
service of collecting the material and developing software that searches and delivers the information to
the subscriber. Databases include searchable key fields, including titles, introductory text, authors, and
subject terms. Access to these materials electronically greatly expands and enhances their usefulness.
There is a subscription fee paid to the vendor to provide their service. As a UACCH student, you have
free access to the databases to which the college subscribes. Databases are selected for the quality and
variety of resources they offer and are accessed using the Internet. Some databases contain the full-text of
articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers as well as books while other databases contain only
citations - or - citations & abstracts. A database can be multidisciplinary (cover a variety of topics) or focus
on a specific subject (e.g., business, health). Library databases can be accessed from off-campus by logging in
with UACCH Library’s login info are available 24/7.
Can’t I get the same articles found in a library database by using Google?
In most cases, no. Most of the information retrieved from the open web by using Internet search
engines, such as Google, is free. Library databases contain copyrighted, licensed, proprietary
information that is not free. UACCH Library pays yearly subscription fees for its databases just like it pays
yearly subscription fees for its print journals, magazines, and newspapers.
I don’t know how to use the library databases. What’s wrong with just Googling it?
There's nothing wrong with using Google or another search engine to find information on the web. Just
keep in mind that most of the information retrieved from the open web hasn't been evaluated. It could
be inaccurate, biased, or it might not be current. Also, the authors of web sites might not have the same
credentials as the authors of articles found in the library databases. You will need to more carefully
evaluate information retrieved on the open web. All of the articles found in the library databases have
already been evaluated for accuracy and credibility by discipline-specific experts and publishers.
How do I access and use the library databases?
The library databases can be accessed from the library’s home page by selecting Databases A to Z or Databases by
Subject under the Databases tab. . If you are accessing the databases from off-campus, you will be prompted to login
with UACCH Library’s username and password.
My instructor told our class we can’t use any (or only a few) Internet sources. Can I still use
the library databases?
Yes. Library databases use the Internet as a delivery system but they are not considered the Internet.
In most cases, your instructor means that they don’t want you using web sites or web pages found on
the open web through Internet search engines such as Google. Most of the published resources found
in the library databases are not available on the open web. Always clarify with your instructors what
they actually mean when the class is told no (or few) Internet sources.
The Internet
The Internet is a worldwide network of computers. The World Wide Web (also called WWW, "the Net" or "the Web") is
an information system that links Internet documents and allows users to navigate through the Web, moving quickly and
seamlessly from one source to another via Web links. Documents available on the Web can include text, sound, video,
and images.
One prevailing misconception is that everything is available on the Internet! As a matter of fact, only a small fraction of
the world of information is available on the Internet. Think of the Web as an iceberg. Anyone can see and access roughly
one-third of the information available on the open Web for free, using popular search engines like Yahoo! or Google.
Wikipedia articles, for example, are open Web resources that are available online to anyone who searches for them. In
the illustration below, the area above the line represents the open Web, where anyone has easy access to free
The other two-thirds of the information available on the Web is hidden from view and is known as the "deep Web."
The deep Web is where information is not free and is not included in popular search engine results. Library databases,
for example, are deep Web subscription resources that are available online, but only to authorized users such as
students enrolled at UACCH. Books, journals, magazines, and other publications that are commercially available are
usually not available for open access on the Internet. Thus, some of the most reliable information in existence must still
be obtained from licensed library databases or traditional print sources. In the illustration below, the area underneath
the line represents the deep Web, where it costs money to gain access to higher-quality, reliable information.
The Internet is a great source for finding current news stories, government documents, statistics, working papers,
conference proceedings, reports, etc. However, since there is no quality control on the Internet, you need to make sure
you check the reliability of sources you find through search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Review the Evaluate
Sources section of this guide for criteria guidelines for evaluating resources.
Differences Between
Library Databases
Search Engines
Types of Information Retrieved
Scholarly journal articles
Popular magazine articles
Newspaper articles
Reference book articles (e.g., directories,
No sponsors or ad
Few scholarly journal articles, popular
magazine articles, and books are free.
Popular web sites (e.g., Wikipedia, Facebook)
Commercial web sites (e.g., eBay, Amazon)
Government, educational, and organizational web
sites (e.g., Library of Congress, UACCH)
Current news & information (e.g., CNN)
Email, chat (Gmail, AIM)
Many sponsors and ads
When to Use
Best for college level research.
When you need to find credible information
Articles and books written by journalists or
experts in a professional field.
All material in database is evaluated for
accuracy and credibility by subject experts
and publishers.
Reviewed and updated regularly.
Best for personal information needs
including shopping and entertainment.
 When you have time to more carefully
evaluate information found on the open
Creditability / Review Process
Lack of control allows anybody to publish
their opinions and ideas on the Internet.
Not evaluated (for the most part). Need to more
carefully evaluate web sites for bias, accuracy, and
Many sites are not updated regularly and can
become outdated.
Cost / Accessibility
Library database subscriptions are paid for
through your tuition and state taxes.
To access the UACCH Library databases from offcampus, you will need to logon with UACCH
Library’s username and password.
Most information found through a search
engine is free.
Library databases cannot be accessed
through search engines or the open web.
Many web sites found through Internet
search engines contain licensed, proprietary
information and require you to logon with a user
account. You must already be a
member or pay for a subscription in order to
access the material from these web sites
The organization and various search
capabilities of library databases allow users
to search for and retrieve focused and
relevant results.
Less ability to search for and retrieve precise
results using search engines like Google. Must
wade through a “grab bag” of results.
Last updated 3/2012
Library Databases (cont’d)
Search Engines(cont’d)
Constancy/ Permanence/ Stability
Published content from journals, magazines,
newspapers and books does not change.
Most material remains in database for a
significant length of time and can be easily
retrieved again.
Web site content can often change.
Web pages and sites may disappear for a
number of reasons. May not be able to
retrieve the same content at a later time.
Most web sites found on the open web do
not provide a citation tool or an already
Many databases include a citation tool that
will automatically generate an APA or MLA
style reference for the article you select.
You may still need to “tweak” this citation
but these tools serve as a good starting
point for citing your articles in a particular
formatted APA or MLA style reference for
the web pages on their site. You will need to start
your citation from scratch using APA or MLA style
manuals or handouts from your
instructor or the library.
Last updated 3/2012