Skip to Main Content
Library Logo Kalamazoo Valley Home Library Home Library Search

ENG 111 College Writing II

What is a Database?

What is a library database?

In the world of libraries, a database is a collection of research articles.  Each database is a unique collection of articles, usually on a particular topic or subject area, such as poetry or psychology.  

Expect to explore many different databases, as you look for sources for your project.  

Take advantage of these valuable resources.  Databases are free for students to use!  Your tuition goes toward the purchase of library resources for the KVCC community.  

Searching Databases


Searching for literary criticism on your chosen poem, short story or author takes perseverance!  

  • Try typing your search terms into several different literary criticism databases
  • Watch for search terms "suggested" by the database as you type your keywords
  • Use the "Advanced Search" feature, and search using "subject terms"
Expanding and Limiting Your Search
  • If you get too FEW search results: 
    • Find the "subject terms" in your results and do an "advanced search" with the subject terms
    • Some databases will list "related sources" (look in a sidebar)
    • Try a different database
    • Look in an Electronic Reference Book or Suggested Literary Criticism website
    • Ask a Librarian for help
  • If you get too MANY results: 
    • Look for ways to limit your results (by publication date, source type, peer-reviewed sources) -- usually these options are found in a sidebar 
    • Find the "subject terms" in your results and do an "advanced search" with the subject terms
    • Do an "advanced search" and try combining keywords (e.g. Langston Hughes AND "Harlem Renaissance," Marge Piercy AND "Barbie Doll")
    • Ask a Librarian for help

Literary Criticism Databases

Saving and Sharing Articles

You've found the perfect article.  Your instructor wants a copy.  How do you save or share an article?

Most databases (including ValleyCat, our library catalog) have ways to:

  • Email an article to yourself or another person
  • Save an article to your computer or to the cloud
  • Link to the article
  • Cite the article (always double-check the citation against a trusted citation source)
  • Print the article (which will not help you this semester, if you are taking your class online, but may help you in the future!)

Look for icons or buttons in guide bars at the top or side of the article pages.  See some examples below.