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WR121 - Academic Composition

A guide to doing research for WR121 at Chemeketa Community College

What is a Library Database?

A database is usually a "large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)." [From "Database.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/database. Accessed 8 Jan. 2021.]

You are already familiar with many databases. For example, you are using a database when you search for a specific course or browse your course options in Chemeketa's online course schedule. NetFlix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are searchable databases of streaming video available to subscribers. If you use contacts on a smartphone, that's a database of names, numbers, and addresses that you have collected.  All three of these examples are searchable collections of data.

Library databases are searchable collections of data, too.  Most Chemeketa Community College library databases are used to find books, articles, video and images in online and on-the-shelf formats.  Some have specialized content such as automotive repair guides (ChiltonLibrary.com) or practice tests (LearningExpress).

Most library databases are not available freely on the web. Libraries pay for access to databases.  Access to databases through your library is one of the services you pay for as a student.  Most libraries have online databases but they don't all have the same databases.  You must be a student at a college or university to have online access to the databases it subscribes to.

All Chemeketa Community College library databases are available at

When Should I Use a Database?

Since Primo Library Search includes articles in its results, you may be wondering why you would bother to search in a journal article database. There are several reasons for using an individual database:

  • Noise - Say you're looking for information on zombies (computers that distribute spam) and you find articles on the walking dead, philosophy, anthropology, and other subjects; using a database that specializes in computer literature lets you focus on your topic
  • Bells and Whistles - Some databases have specialized subject headings and powerful search features; most let you search within the full text of articles
  • Thoroughness - not all database articles are included in Primo Library Search, for technical reasons; Education Full Text and CINAHL (Cumulated Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), and the databases on the Databases on the Web guide are not included in the Library Search 

Selected Databases

Good Starting Place

Other Frequently Used Databases

See if the description of the database works with your topic.

All Databases

There are databases for a wide variety of subjects.  Use the Subjects dropdown box on our Database Page to choose a database that will work for your topic.