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English 101: Using Library Databases

A resource guide for English 101 library instruction sessions taught by Digital Scholarship Librarian, Colleen Robledo Greene.

What Is a Library Database?

This 2-minute video by the Pollak Library explains the difference between library databases versus regular websites and what type of sources you can find in library databases. Learn how to access Pollak Library databases remotely, such as from home, and how to decide which databases to consult for your class or research project.

Using Our OneSearch Discovery Tool

OneSearchOneSearch is the Pollak Library's discovery tool that allows you to search many, but not all, of our research databases at the same time. Think of it as a mega database. Because OneSearch indexes and searches across many of our databases, it is an excellent tool to use when starting a new research project.

Take the Pollak Library home page and OneSearch tutorial.

Learning Activities

 Pollak Library & OneSearch Tutorial Tutorial icon

Take this interactive tutorial to learn about navigating the Library's homepage and using the OneSearch tool to locate articles, books, and more!

OneSearch in One Minute (1:01) movie icon

Watch this Pollak Library video to learn how to use OneSearch in just sixty seconds!

Databases Beyond OneSearch

Go to the General Research database list. The most useful databases are listed first. 
Some databases of note can be found on the Multidisciplinary and Newspapers pages.


find databases


Find Databases

To find a specific database, enter the name in the box below, or enter a field of study to find a list of databases.

Passing Through Our Proxy Server

When accessing Pollak Library databases and other electronic resources remotely from off campus, you will need to authenticate through our proxy server with your CSUF credentials. The Pollak Library's subscription e-resources are available just to current CSUF student, faculty, and staff. A proxy server is a gateway application that checks your status as a current student, faculty member, or staff member by having your login again with your CSUF credentials, and then hands your CSUF credentials off to our subscription e-resources.

For More Information

The Orange Magnifying Glass on Pollak Library Database Lists

OneSearch icon- used to denote that database holdings can also be found in OneSearch What does that orange magnifying glass icon mean?

When you see that icon in a database description it means that materials from that database can also be found by searching in the Pollak Library's OneSearch discovery tool.

Research Tip: When reviewing a list of databases, such as General Research databases, not the databases that DO NOT display the orange magnifying glass. You will want to click on each of those databases to individually search within them since they are not indexed by OneSearch.

General Database Search Tips

These search strategies are discussed in the context of using our Pollak Library databases. However, these same strategies can be applied to other types of databases as well as search engines.

Applying Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are set terms (AND, OR, or NOT) used in database logic that serve as connecting words to combine keywords when searching in databases. They are helpful for focusing your search efforts, and can be used to expand or narrow down your search results.

Phrase Searching

When searching databases, placing quotation marks around certain keywords can help you retrieve more precise results. This strategy will tell the database to look for and retrieve all sources that contain that exact phrase in that exact order of terms.

Example A

In the following example, the term "virtual reality" is surrounded in quotation marks to tell our OneSearch database to only bring up search results that contain that exact phrase.

The term virtual reality is surrounded in quotation marks.

Example B

Use caution when applying quotation marks in your search queries though. Conducting a phrase search using too many words can severely limit your search results. The following example shows what happens when trying to search our OneSearch database with a longer phrase like "using. virtual reality for disabilities." OneSearch does not contain any results that match that query. That exact long phrase is too specific and limiting.

The keywords using virtual reality for disabilities is enclosed in quotation marks.

Example C

The following example from our OneSearch database shows a better strategy for looking for sources that pertain to the concept of virtual reality and disabilities. The phrase "virtual reality" is enclosed in quotation marks because we specifically still want only articles that reference that exact phrase. The keyword disabilities is placed outside of quotation marks so that the database also looks for that term. Although you do not see the Boolean operator AND here, the OneSearch database is conducting an AND search by default in this example. So it is looking for all sources that contain the exact phrase "virtual reality" AND disabilities. You might want to swapping our the keyword disabilities for synonyms or similar terms, such as impairments or perhaps accessibility.

The phrase virtual reality is enclosed in quotations with the term disabilities outside of those quotation marks.