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Choosing and Using Library Databases

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Introduction to Library Databases

A-Z Database ListThe UCLA Library subscribes to about a thousand online databases! This guide is designed to help you...

So What Is a Database?

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ISI Web of Science logo

Academic Search Complete logo

Business Source Complete

Project Muse

In Library terminology, a "database" is pretty much any online source of information which has a search engine. Some common types include:

  • Library Catalogs index all of the books and journals owned or subscribed to by a particular institution. (Union catalogs combine the holdings of multiple institutions.) Some catalogs typically only describe full books and journals, not necessarily individual chapters or articles. Because of this limitation, we also subscribe to...
  • Article Indexes index individual articles within specific academic fields. The journals and books indexed by these databases may or may not be online or even available at UCLA.
  • Online Collections of e-journals and/or e-books, either grouped by the publisher or collected and re-sold in subject-themed packages by "content aggregators."
  • Any of the above may also include or be focused entirely on...
    • specialized content types like reference sources, primary sources, newspapers, dissertations, government documents, technical reports, or standards.
    • non-text materials like statistical data, maps, images, music, or videos.
  • Citation Indexes track who cited specific articles and books.
  • Electronic Discovery Systems attempt (with varying success) to combine multiple databases into a single search engine.

It's also important to note that many of our database licenses are selective: we often subscribe to only a portion of the content available on a given site. Just as we don't purchase copies of every book and journal in print, we don't subscribe to every e-book or online jourrnal available!

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Connecting from Off-Campus: VPN and Proxy Tutorials

The Library's online subscription resources can always be accessed from computers and wireless networks on campus. However, off-campus access is restricted to current UCLA, students, faculty, and staff who have set up their computer using one of the methods below. Click on the other tabs to see how four Bruins got their computers set up and ready to go for remote access!

If you still need help, you can contact the UCLA IT Support Center at (310) 267-4357 or They provide 24/7 phone support.

VPN on Mac with Natalie

"I chose VPN for my mac because I need to be able to access the full text of articles on different browsers." - Natalie, Environmental Science

Download a UCLA VPN 

VPN on Windows with Michael

"I chose VPN because I like the security it provides and the control it gives me as a user to manually enable or disable it when I'm browsing online." - Michael, Public Affairs

Download a UCLA VPN

VPN on Chromebook with Nadia

"I chose VPN because it is really simple to use!" - Nadia, Public Affairs

Download a UCLA VPN

Proxy on Mac with Kate

"I chose Proxy because I prefer logging in through a web browser without having to download any software on my computer." - Kate, Ethnic Studies

Proxy Server