A bibliographic database is a database that contains descriptive records of books, periodical articles, conference proceedings, and audio-visual collections. It may be a database containing information about books and other materials held in a library (for example, an online library catalog, or OPAC) or, as the term is more often used, an electronic index of journal or magazine articles. This latter type also includes citations, abstracts, and often either the full text of the articles indexed or links to the full text. In addition, a bibliographic database can be specific to a certain discipline. For example, Chemical Abstracts and Entrez contain science related information and ARTstor compiles art images.
A well structured bibliographic database is an indispensable tool for modern researchers to find descriptive records of relevant information sources. Also, bibliographic databases have resource sharing functions that old card catalogs do not have. Some databases continue to develop with the cooperation of a number of libraries.
College and university students use a library's database to identify and locate books for class work and research. The books are then usually obtained through the library or by an interlibrary loan. Users can also access national library databases for general bibliographic information, then obtain published materials through specific libraries.
OCLC, or WorldCat, is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of more than 10,000 libraries which participate in the OCLC global cooperative. It is built and maintained collectively by the participating libraries from more than ninety countries. Created in 1971, it contains more than 90 million different records pointing to over 1.2 billion physical and digital assets in more than 360 languages, as of November 2007. It is the world's largest bibliographic database. WorldCat itself is not directly purchased by libraries, but serves as the foundation for many other fee-based OCLC services (such as resource sharing and collection management).
Online general-interest book databases
Some databases are intended primarily for general rather than academic use, and are constructed less formally.
Internet Book Database
The Internet Book Database (IBookDB) is an online database with information about books and authors with an added social networking component. It was started as an effort to be the IMDb equivalent for books. It currently contains information on over 94,000 books (over 316,000 ISBNs), 28,000 authors, and 2,200 series, making it one of the largest online databases of author and book information. Unique features include finding historical publication information for books using their Other Versions feature on every book page. They also provide price comparisons.
Registered users can catalog and manage their book collections online, find users with similar books, authors, or series' and discuss books on the forums. They can also rate, review, and tag books, authors, and series. Other features offered include showing random books from users catalogs on their websites, blogs, or on their pages on social networking sites, and search web sites of various bookstores. IBookDB also holds a monthly giveaway in which they give away around 10 books each month to users of the site, most of which are signed by the authors. Users can request editor status, which currently allows them to enter and correct series related information.
IBookDB also offers services to authors, such as hosting their official forums for free, getting their books listed, updating their Biography and other book publicity services, providing a platform for authors and readers to connect. Currently IBookDB hosts the Official Forums for several authors, including Paul Levine, Susan McBride, Becky Garrison, Kristina O'Donnelly, and Danielle Girard.
Internet Book Database of Fiction
The Internet Book Database of Fiction (IBDoF) is an online database for books, mostly works of fiction. The site also hosts a message board specifically geared to the discussion of books. The Database currently holds information for over 35800 books and 4730 authors, the community consists of roughly 1330 active members who have made 123500 forum posts in over 6400 topics.
Members of the IBDoF are able to and encouraged to add books and authors to the database as well as rate and write reviews on existing books. The message board, which is now shared with the Internet Book List, includes discussion areas on some of the more popular authors in the database and also hosts official discussion boards for several authors including: Charles Pellegrino, L. E. Modesitt, Jack McDevitt, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (joint board), Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald (joint board), Heather Gladney, John Dalmas, Elizabeth Bear, and David B. Coe.
Internet Speculative Fiction Database
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) is a database of bibliographic information on science fiction and related genres such as fantasy fiction and horror fiction. The ISFDB is a volunteer effort with both the database and wiki being open for editing and user contributions. The ISFDB database and code are available under Creative Commons licensing and there is support within both Wikipedia and ISFDB for interlinking. While the ISFDB is primarily a bibliographic research database it also contains biographic data for books, authors, series, and publishers that do not meet Wikipedia's notability standards.
The ISFDB database indexes authors, novels, short stories, publishers, awards, and magazines. Additionally, it supports author pseudonyms, series, awards, and cover art plus interior illustration credits which is combined into integrated author, artist, and publisher bibliographies. An ongoing effort is the verification of publication contents and secondary bibliographic sources against the database to improve data accuracy and achieve 100 percent coverage of speculative fiction. The current database statistics are available online.
Major alternatives to the ISFDB for speculative fiction research include:
- Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, edited by William G. Contento. This site catalogs genre-related anthologies and collections published prior to 1984.
- The Locus Index to Science Fiction, edited by William G. Contento. This site catalogs genre-related magazines, novels, anthologies, and collections published since 1984.
- The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards, edited by Mark R. Kelly.
Social networking book databases
There are several databases intended primarily or partially for social networking. They encourage users to make their own catalogs, to rate the books on the site, and to use this information to identify others with similar interests. LibraryThing is a large and well-known example. LibraryThing is a prominent social cataloging web application for storing and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists.
LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and went live on August 29, 2005. By its one-year anniversary in August 2006, LibraryThing had attracted more than 73,000 registered users who had cataloged 5.1 million individual books, representing nearly 1.2 million unique works (In March 2008 they reached over 360,000 users and 24 million books). The LibraryThing website displays Google AdSense advertising on work and author pages for users that are not logged in, and receives referral fees from online bookstores that supply book cover images. Individual users can sign up for free and register up to 200 books. Beyond that limit and/or for commercial or group use, a subscription fee or one-time lifetime fee is charged. Online bookseller AbeBooks bought a 40 percent share in LibraryThing in May 2006, for an undisclosed sum.
Users (informally known as thingamabrarians, a term coined by contributor RJO) can catalog personal collections, keep reading lists, and meet other users who have the same books. While it is possible to keep a library catalog private, most people choose to make their catalogs public, which makes it possible to find others with similar tastes. Thingamabrarians can browse the entire database by searching titles, authors, or tags generated by users as they enter books into their libraries.
Book retailer databases
Book retailer databases are aimed primarily at selling books and other products.
AbeBooks (formerly the Advanced Book Exchange) is an online marketplace for books. Most books listed are used books, many are rare or out-of-print, and a growing number are new books. The company is based in Victoria, Canada with offices in Düsseldorf, Germany and the U.S. It was incorporated in 1995, and launched its websites in 1996.
At present, they list more than 100 million books on sale from 13,500 booksellers in 57 countries. Sellers pay a monthly subscription to list their books on the site, ranging from $25 to $300, depending on how many books they list. In addition, sellers pay a percentage fee for each book sold via the websites. AbeBooks offers six regional websites: for North America, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and Spain (Iberlibro.com).
AbeBooks' users can search across the listings of many independent bookstores, thereby allowing small, independent players to compete with bookselling superstores. Some of the member bookstores offer their books online only, while others also maintain a regular storefront.
Amazon.com, Inc. is an American electronic commerce, e-commerce, company based in Seattle, Washington. Amazon was one of the first major companies to sell goods by Internet, and was an iconic "stock in which to invest" of the late 1990s dot-com bubble. After the collapse, the public became skeptical about Amazon's business model, yet, it turned an annual profit in 2003.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com, Inc. in 1994, and launched it on-line in 1995. Amazon.com started as an on-line bookstore, but soon diversified to product lines of VHS, DVD, music CDs, MP3 format, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and so on. Amazon has established separate websites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, and Japan. It also provides global shipping to certain countries for some of its products.
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest specialty book retailer in the United States, operating chiefly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores headquartered in lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The company operates the smaller bookstore chains, such as Bookstop, Bookstar, and B. Dalton Booksellers, found in outdoor strip malls and shopping malls. The company is known for large, upscale retail outlets, many of which contain a café serving Starbucks Coffee, and for competitive discounting of bestsellers. Most stores also sell magazines, newspapers, DVDs, graphic novels, gifts, games, and music. Video games and related items were sold in the company's GameStop retail outlets until October 2004, when the division was spun-off into an independent company.
As of February 3, 2007, the company operated 793 stores in 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Play.com is a Jersey-based online retailer and of DVDs, CDs, Books, Gadgets, DRM-free mp3 downloads, and other electronic products. Founded in 1998, Play.com was one of the first online retailers of the UK. It is the second biggest online retailer in the UK, according to traffic monitor Hitwise, and it is in the top 50 globally. Play.com was ranked second on the November 2006 UK "Hot Shops List" compiled by IMRG and Hitwise As of January 2008, Play.com has 7,000,000 registered customers, a catalog of 5,000,000 products, and it employs some 500 staff.
Compilations of other databases
Also known as book meta-search engines, these combine the output of catalogs from a number of libraries and other sources.
ISBNdb.com is a website that attempts to build a free database of books by querying various libraries across the world for book data. The results are then indexed by a variety of parameters (authors, publishers, subjects, similarity, and so on) and presented on the website in an organized format. Original MARC records are available for download as well. As of May 2006, the site has data on more than 2 million unique ISBNs and corresponding books searchable by title, ISBN, author, subject, and other criteria. Between 2000-5000 records are added daily.
The ISBNdb.com website also offers book price comparisons for availability and pricing in many online stores, including both general dealers such as Amazon and large used book dealers (AbeBooks, Alibris, and so on). ISBNdb.com displays the pricing information as the user browses the site.
Effective July 2005, ISBNdb.com offers an XML based remote access API that allows access to all of the same data that is displayed on the website itself. ISBNdb.com was started in 2001 as a hobby project by Andrew Maltsev. It is now a project of his company, Ejelta LLC.
Digital Bibliography & Library Project (DBLP)
DBLP (Digital Bibliography & Library Project) is a computer science bibliography website hosted at Universität Trier, in Germany. It was originally a database and logic programming bibliography site, and has existed at least since the 1980s. DBLP listed more than one million articles on computer science in March 2008. Journals tracked on this site include VLDB, a journal for very large databases, the IEEE Transactions and the ACM Transactions. Conference proceedings papers are also tracked. It is mirrored at five sites across the Internet.
For his work on maintaining DBLP, Michael Ley received an award from the Association for Computing Machinery and the VLDB Endowment Special Recognition Award in 1997.
DBLP originally stood for DataBase systems and Logic Programming but is now taken to stand for Digital Bibliography & Library Project.
Journal and magazine article databases
ProQuest LLC is an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company specializing in educational microfilm and electronic publishing.
Eugene Power founded the company as University Microfilms in 1938, preserving works from the British Museum on microfilm. He also noticed a niche market in dissertations publishing. Students were often forced to publish their own works in order to finish their doctoral degree. Dissertations could be published more cheaply as microfilm than as books. As this market grew, the company expanded into filming newspapers and periodicals. ProQuest still publishes so many dissertations that its digital dissertations collection has been declared the official U.S. off-site repository of the Library of Congress.
Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature
The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature is a reference guide to recently published articles in periodical magazines and scholarly journals, organized by article subject. It has been published regularly since 1901 by the H. W. Wilson Company, and is a staple of academic reference libraries throughout the United States. It helps one find a magazine article of something that has been written in the past. Readers are then directed towards the magazine, so the interested parties can read the article.
ISI Web of Knowledge
ISI Web of Knowledge is an online academic database provided by Thomson Scientific. It provides access to many databases and other resources: Web of Science (including Science Citation Index (SCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), Index Chemicus, and Current Chemical Reactions, covering about 8,700 leading journals in science, technology, social sciences, arts, and humanities), ISI Proceedings, Current Contents Connect, Medline, ISI Essential Science Indicators, Journal Citation Reports (two editions: Science and Social Sciences), in-cites, Science Watch, ISI HighlyCited.com, Index to Organism Names, and BiologyBrowser.
Use of ISI Web of Knowledge is licensed to institutions such as universities and the research departments of large corporations.
- Scopus—large scale commercial database of social science journals indexed by subject and with cross-references
- Informit (RMIT Publishing)—Australian aggregator of bibliographic databases and journals.
Anthropological Index Online (AIO)
The Anthropological Index Online (AIO) is a searchable online database of periodicals held in the Centre for Anthropology at the British Museum in London, England. Published by the Royal Anthropological Institute, it is a bibliographic resource for researchers, teachers and students of anthropology worldwide. New material is indexed on an on-going basis. Currently, 968 journals are indexed in over 25 languages, and the data go back to the early 1960s. Users can search for journal articles by author, title, date, keyword, region and language. In late 2006, unicode compliant diacritics were added (going back to the early 1980s, and from now on).
There are two ways to access the AIO. The Royal Anthropological Institute makes a version available directly (see link below) for individual users. Institutional users (except those in developing countries) who frequently use the database must pay an annual subscription cost to help cover direct running costs. Another version (combined with the data from Anthropological Literature, as Anthropology Plus) is available from OCLC. The data entry costs of the AI0 have also been supported by regular grants from the William Buller Fagg Charitable Trust.
Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)
The Education Resources Information Center, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, produces a large international database of journal and non-journal education literature. The ERIC online system provides the public with a centralized ERIC Web site for searching the ERIC bibliographic database as well as for submitting materials so they can be considered for inclusion in the database. ERIC provides access to bibliographic records of journal and non-journal literature indexed from 1966 to the present. ERIC also contains a growing collection of full-text materials in Adobe PDF format including the legacy ERIC Digests.
- Journal articles
- Research syntheses
- Conference papers
- Technical reports
- Policy papers
- Other education-related materials
Prior to January 2004, the ERIC network was comprised of sixteen subject-specific clearinghouses, adjunct and affiliate clearinghouses, and a number of support components. Each of the sixteen clearinghouses recommended materials for inclusion in the ERIC database, but also maintained additional extensive resources available by contacting the clearinghouse. As of January 2004, the ERIC clearinghouses were closed as part of a reorganization by ERIC's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Education. Some clearinghouses have transferred their operations to other institutions; others have shut down entirely.
Rock's Backpages is an online library of popular music journalism, sourced from freelance contributions to the music and mainstream press from the 1950s to the present day.
Rock's Backpages was founded in 2000 by British music journalist Barney Hoskyns. As of October 2006, its database contains over 10,000 articles (interviews, features, reviews etc.), covering a wide range of popular music (including blues and soul music) from the 1950s onwards.
Rock's Backpages is a subscription site, aimed at both individual consumers and institutional subscribers such as academic institutions and media organizations.
Sources for articles in the database include magazines such as Creem, Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Crawdaddy! and Mojo magazine. The database contains contributions from over 300 journalists, primarily from the United States and the United Kingdom, including Dave Marsh, Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Tosches, Mick Farren, Al Aronowitz, and Ian MacDonald.
The articles are full text and fully searchable.
All the material in the database is presented with the full agreement and permission of the copyright holders—freelance writers and journalists—or of their estates.
ScienceDirect is one of the largest online collections of published scientific research in the world. Produced by Elsevier it contains over 8.5 million articles from over 2000 journals, including titles such as The Lancet, Cell, and Tetrahedron, as well as 40 reference works and numerous book series and handbooks. In 2007, 4,000 e-books will be added to ScienceDirect.
Open-access journal article databases
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
The Directory of Open Access Journals, or DOAJ, lists open access journals, scientific and scholarly journals that meet high quality standards by exercising peer-review or editorial quality control and are free to all from the time of publication based on the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) definition of open access. Because open access is a worldwide phenomenon, DOAJ includes publications from around the world in many languages. It is possible to browse through the journals and search for articles within many of the journals through a web interface. As of June 2007, 2725 journals were in the database, 822 of which were searchable by article. The aim of DOAJ is to "increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact." DOAJ is managed and partly funded by Lund University Libraries. DOAJ has received or is receiving funding from the Open Society Institute, the National Library of Sweden, SPARC, SPARC Europe and Axiell. In addition there is a membership program for individuals and institutions to support the continuing operation and development of the project.
- iBookDB, Statistics.
- ISFDB, Statistics. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- LibraryThing, Homepage. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
- Richard Davies, Abebooks acquires major stake in Librarything.
- Hitwise, IMRG Hot Shops List.
- Out-Law, E-commerce firms head for tax haven Channel Islands. Retrieved 28 February 2007.
- Michael Ley, DBLP homepage. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- Library of Congress, 1999 press release. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- Rock's Backpages, Group subscriptions. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- Earlham University, BOAI definition of open access. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- DOAJ, About the Directory of Open Access Journals. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Badke, William B. Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog. New York: IUniverse, Inc, 2004. ISBN 978-0595313716
- Forrester, William H., and Jane L. Rowlands. The Online Searcher's Companion. London: Library Association, 2000. ISBN 978-1856042932
- OCLC. OCLC FirstSearch Databases. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2000.
- Olson, Hope A., John J. Boll, and Rao Aluri. Subject Analysis in Online Catalogs. Englewood, Colo: Libraries Unlimited, 2001. ISBN 978-1563088001
- Palmer, Roger C. Online Reference and Information Retrieval. Library science text series. Littleton, Colo: Libraries Unlimited, 1987. ISBN 978-0872875364
All links retrieved January 21, 2022.
- Open WorldCat Program
- ProQuest Information and Learning (Information on databases and reference products)
- The American Society of Indexers
- DBLP website
- Directory of Open Access Journals
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