What is a database?

A database is a searchable electronic collection of information about published items, such as journal articles, books, streaming videos, and newspapers.

The library has subscriptions to databases for every subject and program of study taught at Bow Valley College. Here are some examples of the content found in different databases:

  • Health and Wellness Resource Center has streaming videos on health topics and articles from academic journals, magazines and trade publications.
  • Canadian Newsstand has over 190 Canadian newspapers in full text. 

Need more help? Email us at ask@libanswers.bowvalleycollege.ca, ask a question using our online chat service, or check out our FAQs

There are two ways to access and search the library databases:

  1. The library catalogue lets you search all collections at once including databases, ebooks, and print and audio-visual materials. Use the search box on the front page of the library website to search our catalogue.
  2. Visit Databases under the Find Resources section of the library website to browse the databases alphabetically or by subject. The alphabetical and subject listings include a description of each database and a link to it.

All students, staff, and faculty have access to the library's electronic resources. Login information is automatically set to the following:

Username: MyBVC student account email address (e.g., j.smith123@mybvc.ca)
Password: MyBVC student account password

If you have difficulty logging into the library's electronic resources, please contact us.

Searching the library databases retrieves citations, which usually include the following information:

  • Author(s)
  • Title of article
  • Title of publication
  • Publisher
  • Date of publisher

Citations also include one or both of the following:

  • An abstract that summarizes the main purpose and argument made by the author(s)
  • Full-text content of the item in HTML format or as a link to a PDF document

If there isn't a link to the full-text, this means the library does not have access to the item. If this happens, you can use the subject headings in the article to find similar items. Or, you can contact the library to request the item from another library through interlibrary loan.

Begin your search by choosing a keyword that will be found in a part of the citation. For example:

  • Author (last name, first name): Graham, Jennifer
  • Title of article: Counterpoint: Integration in Aboriginal Health Care Won't Work
  • Title of publication: Canadian Points of View: Health Care & Aboriginal People 
  • Subject or topic: Health Care and Aboriginal People
  • Publication date: 2009

Choose your search terms carefully

Your search results depend on the words you use. To improve your results, brainstorm synonyms and related terms. For example, if you are looking for articles about teenagers from poor families, your main concepts are Teenagers, Poor, and Families. You may come up with the following synonyms:

Poor Teenagers Families
Young Adult

Find items with more of your search terms by connecting the keywords using "AND." Type in "AND" or use the Advanced Search option to add more search boxes that automatically include the "AND" operator.

For example, "low-income" AND "teenagers"

Search for variations of terms using an asterisk (*)

Drop the ending of the word and replace it with an asterisk (*) to broaden your results by finding the plural or adjectival forms of the term.

For example: "low-income*" AND "teen*" will also find results for:
    "low-income" AND "teens"
    "low-incomes" AND "teen"
    "low-income" AND "teenager"
    "low-incomes" AND "teenager"
    "low-income" AND "teenagers"

Use subject headings to find similar items

Databases organize items by attaching keywords and phrases, called subject headings, that describe the content of the item. When you find an item that is relevant and helpful to you, look at the subject headings for the item. Then, click on a subject heading or type it in the search box to find similar items.

 Here is an example of a list of search terms for an article found using the keywords (teen*) AND (poor) AND (famil*):


 Clicking on the “POOR Communties” or “SOCIAL conditions” links would find more articles related to those subjects.

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