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Structure and Types of Databases

Structure of Databases

Understanding the structure of a database will help you locate and retrieve information more efficiently. The information about each item in a database is called a record. For example, the library's online catalog has a record for each item (each book, journal, newspaper, video, map, etc.) located in the library.

A record is composed of individual elements of information called fields. All the records in a given database are composed of a common set of fields. These fields can be used as access points when searching a database. For example, many databases include common fields such as author, title, subject, publisher, and journal name.

example of fields in a database

Types of Databases

There are several types of databases. The kind of information contained in a database determines its type. The most common types of databases include:

  • Bibliographic databases provide citations (a listing of information about the item), and sometimes include abstracts (summaries) or descriptions of the items.
  • Full-text databases contain the full text of a work.
  • Numeric databases provide mostly numeric data (numbers)  such as statistics or financial data.
  • Image databases could include art prints, photos, animations, and other types of images.
  • Audio/Video databases could include audio clips of sound effects and music samples or video excerpts from speeches, television shows, or other broadcast media.
  • Mixed databases combine two or more of the other database types.
Chapter 4 — Page 3