Database vs. Web Site

Why choose a Library Database vs. Website Search Engine?

Library databases


  • Library databases contain information
    from reviewed published works.

    : Journals, newspaper articles,
    encyclopedias and other reference books.
  • Websites you can't be certain who published or reviewed the content.
  • Library databases are searchable.

    By Keywords, Subject, Author, Magazine Title, Date, etc.
  •  Websites are only searchable by the Search engines or if the website has it's own search engine.
  • Library databases provide citation information..

    Author, if available
    Title of Article
    Publication (Title of Magazine, Newspaper, or Reference Book)
    Date of Publication
  • Websites rarely state where their information came from to cite the webpage.
  • Library databases often contain full-text articles.

    You can print or email an entire article.
  • Websites may if they are an Online Journal or News source. Yet, it may offer this service for a limited time then charge access.
  • There are different kinds of library databases

    For specific topics.
    Examples: Business & Company Resource Center

    For general topics
    Examples: Research Library 
  • Websites are different subjects but you will have to sort out the good from the not so good or totally irrelevant websites from your search engine.
  • Library databases are paid through your tuition.

  • Websites you get what you paid for...
    second hand information

How is a library database different from a website?

Library databases


  • Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field.
  • Websites can 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 student research needs.
  • Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication.
  • Websites may not indicate when a page is updated.

Questions to ask about ANY information:

  • Currency: How recent is the information, and when was it last updated?
  • Organization: Is it easy to find the information you need?
  • Accuracy: How reliable is the information, and are the facts accurate?
  • Bibliography: How easy is the work 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 work provide languages other than English?
Any source, whether a library database or website, can have good information. It is necessary to think critically about all information that you read or view.

content from Hennepin County Library