OPL Databases - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the databases?

The databases are electronic resources on many topics including art, biography, business, current affairs, education, health, history, literature, science, and technology. Magazine and newspaper articles, encyclopedias, and quick reference sources, biographies, college catalogs, governmental statistics and electronic books are all available. The databases are paid for, or hosted by, the Oakland Public Library for use by its patrons. Oakland Public Library cardholders can access many of the databases remotely from their home or office computers 24 hours a day. Anyone can search the databases at any Oakland Public Library location.

Why should I use the databases?

If you're looking for current, reliable information from a wide variety of resources, including research in specialized subject areas, then try using the Library's databases. The information in the databases is more reliable than much of the information that is available from searching the Internet with a search engine. Many of the databases are available 24 hours a day from any computer anywhere to Oakland Public Library Cardholders.

Is there a charge to use the databases?

No, there is no charge to use the databases. The databases are available for searching for free by anyone at any Oakland Public Library location. Printing costs .15 cents per page of printed material, patrons are responsible for all the printed materials they order to be printed, after you have ordered a print job be sure to check with Library staff that it is in the printing queue. Staff will then release your print job. Oakland Public Library Cardholders also have free remote access from home or office to most of the databases.

How do I decide which database to use?

For general information, good places to start are the General Reference Center or InfoTrac OneFile. For newspapers and current events, try Selected OPL Newspapers (full-text) or Newspaper Index (citations). Elementary through high school students can start with the Student Resource Center, Kids Edition K-12, or Academic ASAP. We have more subject specific databases including Business and Company Resource Center, Health and Wellness Resource Center, RAND California report, etc. You can also access e-books through NetLibrary.

How do I access the databases away from the Library?

You must have a valid Oakland Public Library Card to access the databases remotely from your home or office computer. The Oakland Public Library databases can be found by following the steps below:
 From the Oakland Public Library Home Page
 Go to Catalogs and Databases
 Choose Articles and Databases under Electronic Resources

NOTE: Please log in to My Account before placing holds or accessing databases.

After you select a database, you will be asked to type in your Library Card Number (the 14 digit number located under the barcode on the back of your library card, without the spaces) into the box. You will also need to type in the last 4 digits of the home phone number we have on file for you, and submit. To search another database, you may use the browser back button to return to the database page, select an option such as "back to library," or if available, click on the Library icon.

How do I get a Library Card to use the databases?

Residents of California can have a library card. Library cards are free. Apply by showing two pieces of identification, one of which verifies your current address.
A child's application needs a parent's signature.
You can get an Oakland Public Library card at any of our locations: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/Locations.htm
For more information about library cards and borrowing: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/services/cards.htm

Which browser and settings do I need to access the databases?

Some databases are more compatible with Internet Explorer than with Firefox, Chrome, or other browsers. Download and install the latest non-Beta version of your browser for maximum compatibility. Browsers should have cookies, Java, JavaScript, and frames enabled and caching turned on for optimal use of the databases. Check the individual database's help screen for other requirements.

Why can't I access the databases?

I enter my library card, but still can't get in.
If you have a different phone number than our records indicate, you will not be allowed into the databases. Please make sure you inform the library when your address or phone number changes. Occasionally the database providers have technical problems. Try to access the database again later. E-mail the Computer Services Department at compserv@oaklandlibrary.org to report recurring problems.

Why are some databases only available for searching at the Library and not at home, too?

Some database publishers do not permit remote access to their databases. In some cases, the Library is not able to purchase remote access due to budget constraints. Whenever possible, the Library offers remote access. Databases that are available from home have a blue icon next to them. Databases that are not available from home are indicated with a red icon.

How do I retrieve information from the databases?

The databases are on the Internet. Click on the links to retrieve information. The periodical databases often have a link to "text" or "full text." Click on the link to retrieve the full text of the article.
All databases have a help function. Look for a help button on most of the databases for tips on using the electronic resources.

How can I get an article that is not available in full text online?

If you are only able to get a citation or abstract, mark it and print it out or write it down so you can check on whether the issue you need is in the Library.
Check the Library Catalog to see if the Library owns the title. If the Library does not own the periodical, call the Magazine and Newspaper Department at 510-238-3176 for suggestions on where else to look.
Another option for finding out which libraries subscribe to the journals, magazines, and newspapers you need is to check the Periodicals Database , sponsored by the California Digital Library.

Can I print or save articles from the databases?

Yes, you can print from most databases. Many databases have a print function that reformats the content to reduce the number of printed pages. You can also use the browser print command. Many but not all databases allow you to save content to a floppy disk.

Can I e-mail articles from the databases?

Many of the databases offer an e-mail function so that you can send articles to yourself or a friend.

How do I cite an article?

When you find a document that you want to incorporate into a research paper or thesis, you may want its bibliographic information for the bibliography section of your paper. Complete citation information can be obtained from the document's entry in the database result list. Some databases provide a sample citation format. See the following site from Duke University for examples of formats from any of four style manuals: APA, Chicago, MLA, and Turabian.http://www.lib.duke.edu/libguide/works_cited

How can I use the E-Books from NetLibrary?

You must have a user account with NetLibrary to use the E-Books away from the Library. For more information on Oakland Public Library E-Books and how to create an account, see http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/netlibrary.html