September 6, 2011

About Digital Databases and Databanks

Translation by Jim Edwards and revision by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood
In December 2005, we published “Au delà de Google, il y a le Web invisible” (“Beyond Google: the Invisible Web”), a column about the rich troves of information found in digital databases and even in digital databanks. Databases are not just educational resources for developing your teaching, they are sources of background materials for your research projects as well; “databases are goldmines of information on the most diverse topics, from current events and music, through humanities and social sciences, to new technologies, languages, literature and a host of other fields.” A certain number of databases are to be found at Québec colleges; others can be accessed at the Centre de documentation collégiale (CDC) or at universities.

Databases Available Within the College Network

College libraries generally have two types of digital databases: general and specialized. The first type (Eureka, Érudit, Repère), contains such items as newspapers, non-specialized magazines and magazines intended for an informed readership, biographical index cards and company profiles, newswires, transcripts of television and radio programs, handpicked blogs, referenced websites and digital books. The second type contains documents that reflect the fields taught (nursing, architecture or design, for example) by the institutions that obtained the access rights to them.

Most of the resources, even those offered by college libraries online, are acquired through paid subscriptions governed by licence agreements, and for this reason, their use is strictly reserved for the community served by each of these institutions. As for the CDC, as the one and only library specializing in college education, it negotiated a licence with the supplier ProQuest that gives the college community access to three specialized databanks in the education field: CBCA Fulltext Education, ERIC Plustext and ProQuest Education Journals. Some 2,000 indexed magazine titles can now be accessed through these three databanks upon request; for more than 1,000 of these titles, the full texts can be accessed by sending a simple request by email In addition to these databanks, some 35,000 documents, including digital books, are housed in the CDC’s master collection : an utterly incomparable, indispensable resource.

University Network Resources

For more than 22 years, since it was founded in 1988, the Association pour la recherche au collégial (ARC) has been conducting a drive to obtain for its members the privileges granted to external users of university libraries. Early this year, the news was at last announced: college researchers gain access to Québec and Canadian universities. The much-vaunted green card of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CRÉPUQ) now allows them to borrow books and other documents from all university libraries in Québec and Canada under the terms of the Entente sur la réciprocité d’emprunt direct de documents dans les bibliothèques universitaires québécoises et canadiennes (Canadian University Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement). Each institution establishes its own operating procedures, including those governing databanks, and they can generally be accessed on-site. That being said, colleges in some areas, such as the provincial capital region, have entered into special agreements with neighbouring universities. College libraries have all the information necessary to enlighten you on this subject, and university librarians are conversant with the new agreement.

Apart from College and University Resources…

For the college network, at the present time, the “Invisible Web” can be accessed through the use of several resources, from the CDC catalogue to the Québec and Canadian university library catalogues, with Québec college library catalogues as a starting point. So don’t hesitate to seek advice from library staff to help you search for documents in order to develop your teaching or gather material for your research projects. Finally, don’t forget that as a Québec resident, you can benefit from direct access, through Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) to a rich, varied collection of digital magazines, newspapers and books.

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