General information

Evaluating Databases: Prioritizing on a Shoestring

database schema graphic

Libraries have limited resources, and the portion afforded to electronic resources requires some savvy prioritization to meet patrons’ needs while sticking to budgets. Allocation of spending is a key issue for many libraries, and database subscriptions can cost thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars. For smaller libraries, it’s possible to spend the electronic resources budget on a single amazing all-purpose database or piece together a collection from low-cost alternatives. What’s a librarian to do? It’s important to note that there’s no right/wrong dichotomy in deciding which electronic resources are “best”; it’s always a matter of “best for the community”, i.e., the librarian’s rule of thumb: know thy service population. Does your library serve a population with a high unemployment rate? You may need to prioritize electronic resources focused on job training, skill-building, and resume writing. Are you situated in an area where students hang out after the school day?…