Databases Beyond Google

Students explore Berkeley’s databases with librarian Jim Ronningen


On March 3rd, Berkeley Connect Sociology students joined librarian Jim Ronningen for a virtual tour of UC Berkeley’s vast library databases.

As the session began, one student asked if Ronningen knew accurate sources of information about the revolts in Ukraine, citing an interest in finding unbiased and up-to-date stories. Ronningen introduced her to International Newsstand, but warned that “no source was perfect.”

Over the course of the next hour, students learned how to find physical copies of books in the many libraries, as well as how to find them virtually. Ronningen also introduced students to a variety of resources UC Berkeley’s library offers, including research appointments with librarians. Ronningen encouraged students to explore these options as well as all the libraries. “Don’t be intimidated by the big law library, for example, with all the law students who look very stressed.” The business and the law library are open to everyone! As Ronningen pointed out, these specialized libraries can be useful for sociology students, especially when researching economic aspects of issues or legal precedents. Students can also use inter-library borrowing if a book is not available on campus – from other UC campuses and even Stanford!

Ronningen also stressed that Google Scholar is not a catalog, as he showed the students how the search engine pulled up sources in an unorganized way. What can do this in a more organized way? Article indexes! Ronningen showed students how to access and use online catalogs to find academic sources, and urged students to use a variety of tools. “Never use just one thing to cover your bases when researching,” Ronningen told them.

By the end of the tour and the Q-and-A session that followed, the participating students had been made aware of just how many tools are available to help them in their research.

posted by Katherine Wang
Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant