Faculty Publications

The status of statewide subscription databases

Karla S. Krueger, University of Northern Iowa


This qualitative content analysis presents subscription databases available to school libraries through statewide purchases. The results may help school librarians evaluate grade and subject-area coverage, make comparisons to recommended databases, and note potential suggestions for their states to include in future contracts or for local purchase. All states had similar periodicals' indexing vendors; therefore, this study's focus was online subject reference databases. Results portrayed seventy-nine unique databases across thirty-three states analyzed. Most states studied (81 percent) had a wide variety of online reference subject content; twenty states (61 percent) included one or more general reference databases; seven states with no general reference had a range of titles in health, literary criticism, science, history, biography, and/or art. However, not all content areas were equally represented: examples: health (61 percent), literary criticism (55 percent), science (42 percent), history (39 percent), biography (33 percent), and arts (15 percent). There was disparity in six states with no general reference and gaps in subject coverage. In one state, the only secondary reference tool available was NoveList for readers' advisory. Another state's only secondary subject reference title was HeritageQuest. Additionally, pro/con databases, readers' advisory, and elementary general reference online databases were available in just over half of the states (51 percent); access to general encyclopedias online was offered by only 48 percent of states surveyed.