What is a Database?

A database is a search-able and organized collection of data or other resources.  Google is an example of a large, freely available database of URLs.  Amazon.com is an example of a database of items available for purchase through Amazon.  

The library creates, curates, and/or subscribes to hundreds of databases.  Some of these are for books, some are for articles, some for images, some for web resources, and some are for a combination of any or all of these.  When you conduct research, you are almost certain to use a database of some sort.  This page is a collection of some of the best databases for secondary sources on various topics related to indigenous peoples.

Library Catalog

Search the Library Catalog


The Cornell University Library Catalog is a database of materials held at the many libraries at Cornell University.  The catalog is especially useful for finding items at the library like books, maps, videos and journals (note: you can find journals here but NOT specific journal articles). 


Library Search Box with Catalog link emphasized

To access the catalog, visit www.library.cornell.edu and click on the "Catalog" link found in the primary search box.  

You can search by keywords, title, author or call number using the drop-down menu to the right of the search box.

The results page will list Cornell holdings and will be sorted by relevance by default.  You can sort by year, author and title using the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of the search results. 

You can search the holdings of libraries worldwide by choosing "Library Worldwide" under the Expand your search menu on the left side.  Consider Interlibrary Loan or Borrow Direct for access to non-Cornell holdings.

  1. To do a basic book search, go to the catalog and enter your search terms in the main search box. First do a very general keyword search for your subject.
  2. Using the choices in the lefthand column, narrow your search to books (under Format).
  3. When you find anything useful look at the record and find the subject terms.  By clicking on these terms you can find all holdings about that particular subject.
  4. You can also use the links on the side to find books in certain date ranges or languages.

More catalog search tips

Books or Articles?

A very popular type of information that cannot be found in the catalog is an article.  Since they cannot be found in the catalog, you may need to determine whether you want books, articles, or a combination of the two.  Here are a couple things to consider when you're deciding between books and articles:

How recent is the topic of study? - In general, books take more time to compile and publish.  As a result, for very recent topics, articles tend to be a better option.  On the flip side, for historical research, particularly in a field that doesn't change much, books tend to be the better option.

How detailed do you need the information to be? -  This may seem counterintuitive due to their relative size, but books tend to be more general and offer more breadth on their topic of coverage.  Articles on the other hand, especially peer-reviewed research articles, can be extremely specific.  To make a comparison, a book is more likely to be entitled "Environmental Policy" and offer a general overview of that topic.  An article on the other hand may be entitled "Environmental Policy with Collective Waste Disposal".  The article in this case is clearly focused on a much more specific topic.

There are only a few places to visit if you are looking for books and the catalog is definitely the best for finding books at Cornell University.  Articles on the other hand may be available in hundreds of different databases usually organized by subject.  If you are interested in looking for articles related to Indigenous peoples, have a look at the resources in the Recommended Databases Box and Other Databases to Consider Box on this page.

Recommended Databases

There are dozens of resources that you can use to conduct research for your assignment.  These are some of the key resources to consider regardless of the topic you choose.

Other Databases to Consider

These are resources that may be worthwhile to explore depending on your topic of research.  Please keep in mind that there are many more that you can refer to depending on your topic.  Visit the following link for more complete lists of databases by subject.