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One Person Can Change the World Symposium

What is a Database?

A library database is an electronic collection of information and documents, including newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and more. 

Databases are not considered "the Internet." We use an internet browser to access library databases but we are not searching a website. Unlike searching Google, using a library database will allow you to:

  • Limit a search by keyword, author, date, publication, etc. 
  • Find reliable sources such as peer-reviewed or scholarly articles
  • Avoid paywalls or other paid subscription content

Boolean Operators


Boolean Operators

Once you find your keywords, you then have to indicate the relationship or connection between the keywords using Boolean operators AND, OR, or NOT.


  • AND finds results that contain all of the keywords
  • AND finds less results and helps narrow your search


  • Example Search: Strawberry AND Vanilla AND Chocolate will find results that contain all three flavors



  • OR finds results that contain at least one of the keywords (but not necessarily all) 
  • OR finds more results and helps broaden your search (when you are not finding enough)


  • Example Search: Strawberry OR Chocolate OR Vanilla will find results that contain at least one of those flavors 




  • NOT excludes keywords from the results
  • NOT narrows your search but should be used cautiously to avoid accidental exclusion


  • Example Search: (Strawberry OR Vanilla) NOT Chocolate will find results Strawberry and/or Vanilla but excludes any results that mention Chocolate


(adapted from content created by Helen Hooper, Sharon Bryan, and Kylie Bartlett of James Cook University -- Writing Guide)