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Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons

Salem Academy Charter School

Google vs Library Databases

Google and Other Search Engines Library Databases
  • Scholarly journal articles

  • Popular magazine articles

  • Newspaper articles

  • Reference book articles (e.g., directories, encyclopedias)

  • Books

  • No sponsors or ads


Google and Other Search Engines Library Databases
  • Best for personal information needs including shopping and entertainment.

  • When you have time to more carefully evaluate information found on the open web.

  • Best for college level research.

  • When you need to find credible information quickly.


Google and Other Search Engines Library Databases
  • Lack of control allows anybody to publish their opinions and ideas on the Internet.  

  • Not evaluated (for the most part).  Need to more carefully evaluate web sites for bias, accuracy, and completeness.

  • Many sites are not updated regularly and can become outdated.

  • Articles and books written by journalists or experts in a professional field.

  • All material in database is evaluated for accuracy and credibility by subject experts and publishers.

  • Reviewed and updated regularly.


Google and Other Search Engines  Library Databases
  • Most information found through a search engine is free. 

  • Library databases cannot be accessed through search engines or the open web.

  • Many web sites found through Internet search engines contain licensedproprietary information and require you to logon with a user account.  You must already be a member or pay for a subscription in order to access the material from these web sites.


Google and Other Search Engines Library Databases
  • Web site content can often change.

  • Web pages and sites may disappear for a number of reasons.  May not be able to retrieve the same content at a later time.

  • Published content from journals, magazines, newspapers and books does not change.

  • Most material remains in database for a significant length of time and can be easily retrieved again.


When using Google for broad searches, CRAAP It Out

  • When was the information published or last updated?
  • Have more recent articles been published on your topic?
  • Does your topic change rapidly (Popular culture, technology)?
  • Does the source add something new to your knowledge of the topic?
  • Is the information too technical or simplified for you to use? 
  • Does the information meet the requirements of the assignment?
  • Are there statements you know to be false? 
  • Is it free from errors - spelling, punctuation, or grammar?
  • Are there links to other reliable sources?
  • What are the Author's credentials?

  • Is the author affiliated with an educational institution or prominent organization?

  • Is the relationship between the author and the institution clear?

  • Can you find information about the author from the source?

  • Is there an obvious bias or prejudice?  

  • Are alternate points of view presented? 

  • Is the author's purpose to sell, persuade, entertain or sell?

Domain Names

Domain Sample Address
.edu = educational institution
.gov = US government site
.org = organization or association
.com = commercial site
.museum = museum
.net = personal or other site

What are Credible Sources?


Practice Exercise: Bias/Unbiased

Scenario: Congress is currently debating a tax reform proposal that makes filing taxes easier.

  1. The author of the proposal
  2. A professor of tax law
  3. A tax preparer
  4. The average taxpayer


Practice Exercise: Expertise

Rank each of these three sources in each area of expertise. Use 1 for the source with the most expertise and 3 for the source with the least.

              Knowledge of movies:



                                 ___Times review


              Knowledge of you and your taste in movies:



                                ___Times review



Using the criteria to determine expertise, read the following choices and choose the source with the most expertise. Which one do you think has the least? Why?

What cell phone you should get:

  1. the cell-phone company
  2. your children
  3. the ad on television
  4. Consumer Reports magazine


What type of running shoes to buy:

  1. your father
  2. the shoe salesperson
  3. your coach
  4. Runner's World magazine


What to wear to the awards dinner:

  1. your best friend
  2. your boy/girlfriend
  3. an article in Cosmo magazine
  4. the clerk at Forever 21 store