5 library databases you didn’t know you needed in your life…

…until now.

The many bibliographic and indexing databases you can access through the Library are fantastic and essential resources for your research and study whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or member of staff.

However, the Library subscribes to a large number of different kinds of databases that can be just as useful for your learning, teaching and research needs and we wanted to highlight just a small number of these that you may not have been aware of and might want to explore.

All databases can be accessed via the Databases A-Z list, unless otherwise noted.

In no particular order…

1. Box of Broadcasts (BoB)

BoB truly is a box of delights but what exactly is it? BoB is an off-air recording service that allows you to record and get access to recordings of programmes from UK Freeview TV and digital radio channels (plus a few foreign language channels) – it’s a bit like BBC iPlayer but offers much more.

BoB2You can request and record programmes within 30 days of broadcast, you have access to the BBC Archives from around 2007 onwards and there are over 1 million already recorded programmes that you can access. That’s not all, you can create clips, programmes and clips can be embedded into VLE’s, you can create playlists which you can share with any other BoB user and most of the TV programmes have a transcript that is also searchable.

You can use BoB to find documentaries, news and current affairs programmes, interviews, films and more (or you can use it as a catch-up TV service).

For more information on the service and how to access see:

If you’re interested in more databases that allow you to search for and watch films, documentaries, moving images, etc., then why not take a look at JISC MediaHub, MEF digital films service, BFI InView or Prelinger Archives?

2. Vogue Archive

IFThe Vogue Archive contains the entire run of Vogue magazine (US edition) from 1892 to the present day, reproduced in high-resolution colour page images. Every page, including adverts, has been included and it is easy to both search and browse.

The archive is a unique record of American and international fashion, culture and society from the beginnings of the early modern era to the present day. This is a fascinating resource and useful if you’re looking at gender studies, popular culture, advertising and marketing, fashion history, graphic design, social history, photography, textiles and more. Or why not just enjoy a little light reading away from your text books?

Like this? Then you may also like the The Harper’s Bazaar ArchiveEntertainment Industry Magazine Archive or you may be more interested in even older periodical collections such as American Periodicals or British Periodicals?

3. Factiva

Factiva contains international business, financial and news information from 35,000 sources in 26 languages from nearly 200 countries. As well as providing full-text access to a large number of UK newspapers (broadsheet and tabloid), it also provides full-text access to a significant range of international newspapers and news sources.

Coverage is from around the mid-1980s onwards but you can check the time period covered for each individual title in Factiva.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Factiva - Google Chrome chrome 15/02/2016 , 15:31:32Newspapers and news sources can be a valuable resource for your research providing first-hand accounts of events and allowing you to trace a story back, find current information about international, national and local events, compare coverage of events between different newspapers, research historic events and find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions.

Nexis UK is another database you can access via the Library which provides similar coverage to Factiva (there are some differences though e.g. Le Monde is not covered by Factiva but is covered by Nexis UK). Lexis Library covers just UK newspapers and can be useful if you are wanting to search specific individual titles.

Factiva, Nexis UK and Lexis Library provide the full-text from articles but do not provide scanned copies of the original newspapers, therefore, photos, images, some freelance material, advertisements, etc., are not included.

The Library also has access to a large number of historical newspaper collections and individual titles. A number of these do provide you with full page scans from the original newspapers and some, although historical, do provide content up to quite recent years. Find all the newspaper databases you can access on the Newspapers database page on the Library website.

4. Foreign Office Files for China

IFForeign Office Files for China provides access to the digitised archive of British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Library currently has access to the files covering the period 1949-1980, broadly covering the Communist Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. This was a period of significant turmoil and upheaval in China and this absorbing database gives access to formerly restricted British government documents including diverse materials such as diplomatic dispatches, letters, newspaper cuttings, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities and summaries of events.

Official documents are a really useful type of primary source which can give you insight to specific events, allow you to contextualise issues you are researching or simply be used as a way of gathering data and statistics.

China not an area of interest? Why not have a look at some of the other databases the Library subscribes to that include official documents e.g. Documents on British Policy Overseas, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Congressional Record, Arab-Israeli Relations, 1917-1970: The Middle East Online, Series 1, etc.

5. British Cartoon Archive

The British Cartoon Archive gives you access to 150,000 cartoons and caricatures published in British newspapers from 1904 onwards. This unique archive from the University of Kent at Canterbury, exists to encourage and facilitate the study of cartoons and caricatures published in the United Kingdom.

IFAs well as being useful if you’re studying art, design and journalism, it will also be of interest if you are studying politics, economics and social history. British cartoons have  often been used to address serious issues in these areas and the British Cartoon Archive is an invaluable resource for bringing history to life and illustrating the mood of the times.

The Library has a large number of “image” databases it subscribes to, if this interests you find a full list on the Images database page on the Library website.

Want to see more?

The Databases A-Z list allows you to see a full list of all databases the Library subscribes to, including information about each individual database and links to access.

If you’re not sure what databases might be useful for your area of research why not take a look at the Databases by Subject page, that lists databases by relevant subject area.

You may also find it useful to keep an eye on the E-resources trials page. Publishers are usually willing to provide trial access to allow the Library to use and evaluate a resource before making a decision about purchase, so you may find useful resources here too. Note: these will only be available for a limited period of time and there is no guarantee that trialed resources will be purchased by the Library.

Most databases the Library subscribes to are only available to current students and members of staff at the University of Edinburgh.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for Social and Political Science


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