Making the most of electronic resource databases: a multi-disciplinary approach

Submitted by: Tara LaLonde

In a world of limited library collections funds (with decreasing purchasing power as subscription prices increase), it is essential to get the most out of the resources to which we already subscribe. The University Libraries is fortunate to subscribe to a wealth of electronic databases (Database A-Z), many of which are tailored to one or a few departments or academic disciplines. Electronic databases assemble a wealth of information that is likely relevant to many more disciplines than just the ones to which they are marketed.

The Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information does not manage any serials collections funds. That said, we often consult and find useful information in subscription electronic resources when responding to patron questions. We often consult the same five or six databases, but this got us thinking, “What geographic information exists in other databases? From this question was born a semester-long student project to explore the electronic database list in search of useful geographic information. The result of the project was a comprehensive inventory of geographic information in the electronic databases to which the University Libraries currently subscribes and some informational material that highlights a few of these resources.

The project exposed the students to library resources with which they were unfamiliar. This is an  opportunity for them to take a closer look at some of the electronic resources with maps and geospatial content related to topics of interest and/or that was relevant to their majors.

For more information on the process of reviewing content within the electronic resource databases, check out our project page on the Maps and Geospatial Electronic Resources Inventory. For a listing of the electronic resources with map and geospatial content identified, see this table that includes the name of the electronic resource and brief description of maps and geospatial content. See sample images of maps and geospatial content from various electronic resource databases in this powerpoint, which includes the following six categories:

1) news and current events
2) history
3) economic and business
4) US politics and demographics
5) world politics and demographics
6) miscellaneous
Additional information on a few databases with map and geospatial content from the  Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) , Passport (Euromonitor), and Race Relations in America are included.