e-Resources: the Library at your fingertips
Our librarians share their favourite databases.
13 August 2015
The National Library provides access to over 300 online databases, offering our researchers valuable sources of information that enhance our printed collections. These are all available through our one stop eResources portal.
The services include full text newspapers and journals, indexing and abstracting services and ebooks. They provide access to both current and historical content in a diverse range of subject areas including history, genealogy, literature, geography, health, biography, law and government publications.
Many eResources are available in full text, and many are available offsite to registered users of the National Library. If you don’t already have a National Library reader's card, it is a simple process to register for one here.
Knowing these databases are available is one thing, however knowing why and when to use them is another matter entirely. We asked some of our experienced reference staff to nominate their favourite databases. Their reasons may surprise you.
News databases for research and fun—Sonja
My top eResource for news is Factiva, a discovery service spanning global newspapers, journals and business information. If you’re researching a topic or person (or even egosurfing!), it provides a wide range of articles in full text (rough coverage from the late 1990s to today), and you can collate your results into a very professional PDF. It takes a little while to understand the search commands, but it is so worthwhile. I adore Factiva so much, I’d actually consider getting a tattoo about it.
If you prefer to browse newspapers in the original layout, “as printed”, check out another news eResource, Library Press Display. This includes all the content and pictures from the original newspaper and has a more “newspaper-y” experience. It contains selected titles from all over the world in their original language, for the past 12 months.
Health databases for less healthy things—Sonja
My top eResource for health is Gale’s Health & Wellness Resource Center. It’s like a health magazine in a database backed with good scholarly resources from medical journals. My guilty pleasure is searching for recipes (I use truncation to broaden the search, so for sweet recipes I would use sweet* recipe*)! It’s weirdly satisfying to get dessert ideas from a health database. Another good feature is being able to search based on your symptoms or the prescription drug/herbal remedy name.
Gale’s Health & Wellness Resource Center is very American-focused, so I balance my searching with EBSCO’s Consumer Health Complete which can be searched at the same time as the Australia New Zealand Reference Centre. It has recipes too!
Discovering the law—Matthew
As both an experienced librarian and a new law student, I find Westlaw to be very useful. Although most Australian law reports are available through the free resource AustLII (which I also love), Westlaw adds great value with its informative headnotes and hyperlinked catchwords to help locate other cases dealing with similar topics. It also summarises the legislation and other cases to which the judgments refer, and later cases that refer to the current one. The search function makes it very easy to use—among the many possible fields are case name, citation, court, jurisdiction and even judge. So if, like me, you're a fan of Lord Denning or Michael Kirby, it makes it very easy to see your favourite judgments.
For a bit of everything—Sue
I guess my top 'go to' eResource is Academic Search Complete. I like that it covers academic journals as well as magazines and newspapers in a wide range of subject areas. I also think that the option to log in and save items to your folder is good, and I have used this feature a lot when studying (some years ago now!). It is also very easy to use in comparison to others.
Finding out about people—Helen
I love reading about people, both the famous and the infamous, so my favourite ‘go to’ is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. It has extensive biographies, includes photographs and is written in an engaging style. It casts the geographic net wide for anyone who can qualify as someone who has ‘shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century’. For those on the other side of the Atlantic, the American National Biography Online is also a must. Not forgetting the fantastic free Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Not sure where to start your research? Stuck along the way? Ask a Librarian.