Most school media centers and public libraries are equipped with a selection of CD-ROM computer databases that can be searched by subject to retrieve information on a wide variety of topics. Increasing numbers of libraries also provide access to online computer databases.
A computer database is an electronic file of information. The type of information varies depending on the database. Some databases contain one or more of the following: the complete works of Shakespeare, the Encyclopedia Americana, multiple volumes of Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, an index to thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, full-text (complete) articles from several hundred national newspapers, and many other kinds of information both specialized and general.
Some familiar databases to library users are Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia, InfoTrac, EBSCO Magazine Article Summaries, WILSONDISC, CD NewsBank, Business ProQuest, and SIRS (Social Issues Resources Series). These are referred to as CD-ROM products because in each case the information is stored on CDs and played on CD-ROM drives. The CD-ROMs are updated periodically. These databases are usually provided by libraries as a free service, although there may be a charge for printouts.