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Here you'll find answers to some of the questions frequently asked about our research resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a database and a website?

A database is a paid-subscription resource that you can't use unless you pay for a personal subscription or have access to it through an organization like your university, school or public library. It often includes digital versions of print journals, magazines and reference books. Websites are free resources and need to be evaluated for reliability/trustworthiness before being used as a resource for research.

My assignment requires that I use a book, but I found what I need in the databases. Can I use this?

Articles found in a database are often electronic versions of resources found in print, many of which are no longer available in print. Check with your instructor to see if database articles are acceptable.

Why do I have to enter my library card number to use a database?

HCPL provides free access to databases for our library customers. Entering your library card number to access databases proves that you are an HCPL card holder.

I googled the database name but couldn't login with my library card number. Why can't I use your database?!

To use our databases, you need to start out at our website so that you're recognized as an HCPL library card holder. When you go to the database from our website you'll be asked to enter your library card number and then you'll be taken to the database main page.

What does full-text mean? How do I know if it's available in full-text?

Full-text means the entire article is available through the database rather than just an abstract or bibliographic listing. You can usually tell that it's available in full-text from listings within your database search results. It should say "HTML Full Text" or "PDF Full Text" or some combination of those. You can also choose to limit your search to only articles available as full-text.


How do I request an article not available as full-text?

If it's not available as full-text (typically says "Check Article Linker for more information"), but it's an article that you'd really like to read, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan. (currently:

What is an index?

An index is an alphabetical listing of names or subjects and resources where they can be found.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a brief summary of an article.

What does peer-reviewed mean?

This means that the article was reviewed by experts within the field to make sure it meets certain academic standards and criteria for that field.

What is the difference between academic and consumer editions?

Academic editions are usually written with an academic (university level) or professional reader in mind, so it might use language that is not as easily understood by somebody not studying or working in that field. Consumer editions, often found in health-related resources, are typically written with the everyday person in mind and uses language that is easier to understand for those outside the field.

Some of the databases look a lot alike. How do I know which one to use?

The databases do all look a lot alike, especially those from the same vendor. To make sure that you're in the correct database, you can double check the name of it near the top of the search page. You'll often see the name of the company that creates/owns the database (EX: EBSCO, Gale, Proquest, etc.) and also the name of the database (EX: Academic Search Complete, Masterfile Premier, Literary Reference Center, etc.).

Can I access databases from home?

Most of our databases are accessible from home as long as you know your library card number. When you click on the database from the HCPL website, you will be asked to enter your library card number, and then you will be taken to that database.

Why can't I access Ancestry Library Edition from home? Can I access Ancestry Library Edition using my own personal computer on the library's Wifi?

Ancestry Library Edition does not allow remote access (access from home), so you would have to come to the library to use that database, either on one of the library's computers or on your own laptop or tablet using the library's WiFi.

Can I save articles? Email them to myself? Print them?

Depending on the database you can do all three. Each database has a help option that will explain to you how you can use or save your search results. Most of the databases that contain journal or magazine articles will make it very easy to see from your search results what your options are (save as HTML, save as PDF, email HTML or email PDF). If you're not sure, please ask staff at your local branch for help or via "Ask A Librarian". 

What is Texshare?

Texshare is a consortium or group of Texas libraries joining together to share print and electronic materials, purchase online resources, and combine staff expertise. You can read more about it here. (

What does remote access mean?

Remote access means access from outside the library – at home or at work – with your library card number.

How can I find the date range for the articles included in each database?

That varies based on the company that created/owns the database, but typically within each database there is an option to see a listing of the included publications. Each publication will also typically have listed the dates covered for that publication within the database.