Help for the Database Library

Ask a Librarian

What Is It?

The Database Library is the UW-Madison Libraries collection of databases. You can find databases either By Subject or By Title. Some databases can be searched simultaneously by checking/unchecking database check boxes and then using the search box on a subject page; other databases must be searched individually by clicking on the database title.

Search results can be temporarily saved and then emailed or exported. Subject pages or sections of same can be created as a widget and put into your own webpage. Most subject pages have a Highlighted Resource that can provide information about a particularly useful or new database.

Databases by Subject

The Database Library offers 63 subject areas for you to browse. This is your best option when you know what subject area(s) you want but don't know individual database titles. This option is also good for discovering newly added databases or databases you weren't previously aware of.

Most subject pages have a search box, a list of subcategories, under each subcategory a list of databases with an "i" icon for more information, and extra features area:

Search Box

Some databases can be searched simultaneously. The search box is used for this type of searching. Each subject page comes with pre-selected (pre-checked) databases in a "Core" section. You can uncheck these by clicking on the "Uncheck All" link. If you wish to re-select these, simply check the "Recheck Default Databases" link.

Up to 10 databases can be checked for simultaneous searching. Remember that databases in the "Core" area come pre-checked so you may need to uncheck those before adding more databases.

The search box is a Google-style "and" search: All the search terms you enter are automatically "and"-ed together. To search for something as a phrase, use quotations. You can select title, author or subject as your search parameter from the drop-down menu. Click on the "More Options" link to get a second search box. The ability to simultaneously search databases is limited to only two search boxes.


All subject pages have a list of "Core" databases. These are the primary, most helpful databases for that subject.

Most subject pages have a secondary subcategory called "Also Helpful". These are databases which are not primary to the subject area but that can still provide helpful results.

Many subject pages have a third subcategory level. Sometimes this is a more specific aspect of the subject, such as "Folklore" on the "Anthropology/Archaeology" subject page. Sometimes it is a type of resource, such as "Dictionaries" under the "Agriculture" subject page.

Databases Information

Each database has an "i" icon behind the database title. Clicking on this will take you to a page describing the database in much more detail, including:

  • Alt. Name - indicates alternative titles for the database
  • Type - indicates whether the database is an "article database", "subject gateway", etc. Some types of databases have been collected into lists for your convenience: You can see a list of all databases with Pre 1970 content by searching for "Pre 1970" in the Databases tab on the UW-Madison Libraries homepage. This will give you a link that says "Pre 1970 Databases" and if you click on that you will see a list of databases that have content prior to 1970. You can see a list of all databases that have e-book or e-text content by clicking on the E-Books link on the Books tab on the UW-Madison Libraries homepage.
  • Guide - a link to a help guide for the database. This is only available for some databases.
  • About - gives a more detailed description of the database which can include topics/subjects and number of e-journals
  • Coverage - indicates the era or geographic location for the materials in this database.
  • Time-span - tells you what years the database covers and how often the database is updated.
  • Publisher - indicates which vendor provides the database.
  • Publisher URL - links to the website of the vendor that supplies the database.
  • Creator - provides the database creator name or institution.
  • Full Text Note - shows how many people can use the database or other miscellaneous information.
  • Note - indicates which UW-Madison Libraries to contact for further assistance.

Extra Features

Each subject page has a boxed area on the right. This contains My Saved Records, Create a Widget, Subject Assistance, and a Highlighted Resource:

  • My Saved Records. This is where articles/records that you select from your search results are temporarily stored. These must be exported before ending your research session.
  • Create Subject Widget. This tool allows you to select the subject page or part of the page and get either Javascript code or HTML code to embed on your own webpage. You can select to have a search box or not, keep the subject page title or not, and have the entire subject page or just one subcategory.
  • Subject Assistance. This section offers assistance for a variety of needs. Immediate assistance is available via Ask A Librarian. Subject Specialists are listed for the purpose of setting up research appointments. Libraries are listed which provide links to different Campus Libraries websites that specialize in the subject.
  • Highlighted Resource. This area gives you detailed information about important or new databases. Highlighted Resources are updated up to two times each semester during the school year and once during the summer session.

Databases By Title

The Database Library also offers the ability to search for databases by title. This is best used when you already know what databases you want to use.

You can search for Databases by Title by using the Databases tab on the UW-Madison Libraries homepage. The search box on the Databases tab will search for databases by title and description, so for example a search for "psych" will produce not only primary databases like PsycArticles and PsycINFO but also other databases that have "psych" somewhere in the description.

You can also browse databases by using the A-Z letters on the Databases tab on the UW-Madison Libraries homepage. Clicking on "M" for example will take you to the M section of the Databases by Title list.

Access to the Databases by Title list is also available on the Database Library's By Subject page. Look in the local navigation area (the gray bar below the banner but above the main section of the page) and you will see a link that says "By Title" over on the right hand side.

Exporting Saved Records

If you opt to collect articles/records by clicking each one's "Save this Record" icon, these will be temporarily stored in the "My Saved Records" folder. These must be exported prior to ending your research session. There are a number of options for exporting articles/records:

  • Email records to yourself - Click on this link, fill in the email form, check/uncheck articles/records from the list below the form, and click the gray "Send" button.
  • Export to RefWorks - Click on this link, then check/uncheck articles/records that you want from the list. Click on the large gray "Export" button. This will take you to a RefWorks login screen, and after you've logged in, you'll be able to view these records in the Refworks by clicking on the "View Last Imported" link.
  • Download to text file - Click on this link, then check/uncheck articles/records that you want from the list. Click on the large gray "Download" button. Open or Save the text file.
  • Download to EndNote, Zotero, etc. - Click on this link, then check/uncheck articles/records that you want. Then select either download directly into EndNote, Zotero, etc. or select to download to file that you'll import yourself. Click the gray "Download" button.

Known Issues

Merge Problem

Very rarely the Database Library search function is unable to merge the simultaneous search results back into a list that you can view. When this happens you can still access the article/records by clicking on the individual database links on the right hand side of the results screen. You will need to click on each database to view all articles/records. Please use the "Contact us by Email" link at the bottom of the webpage to report when this happens.

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