Best Databases | Best Reference 2021

Librarians, students and instrutcors will find tremendous value in these top picks of 2021.

Comics Plus. LibraryPass.

Collecting new and backlist comics from dozens of publishers, with new titles added weekly, this treasure trove of content represents tremendous value for school, public, and academic libraries. Access is unlimited and simultaneous, and themed lists make it easy for readers to discover new comics. A comics bonanza.

Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth-Century British Intelligence. Gale.

A must for scholars of British history, the Cold War, and 20th-century international relations, this work from Gale makes available 500,000 pages of previously classified information on the British Empire. Materials come from the UK Ministry of Defence, MI5, the Cabinet Office, and more, and collectively offer a rich and detailed history, spanning 1905 to 2002. Impeccable organization and robust search functions only add to the resource’s utility.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Analysis Powered by CollectionHQ. Baker & Taylor.

With libraries taking up the call to ensure that their holdings are inclusive, this tool from Baker & Taylor, part of its existing CollectionHQ resource, is an important one. The module assesses fiction and nonfiction titles and groups them into categories such as race, disability, and mental and emotional health (based on categorization by a Baker & Taylor librarian, BISAC terms, or appearance on a Kirkus Collections selection list) and offers data on collection inclusivity. Though the tool doesn’t take the place of library staff examining the collection, it offers them invaluable help as they continue to work to make their collections equitable.

Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender, IV: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture. Gale.

Spanning the 19th century to the present—with a significant amount of content focused on the 1970s to 2016—this internationally focused resource chronicles the experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ activism. With primary sources from the organization Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives, this is a crucial and unique database that surfaces materials that many similar resources omit.

Mindscape CommonsCoherent Digital.

This site offers social workers, counselors, and therapists (and professors and students in those fields of study) the opportunity to try out their clinical skills via virtual reality. Scenarios such as listening to a therapist treating a patient with anxiety are realistic and immersive, while supplementary materials—lesson plans, open access journal articles—are robust. This is an innovative, dynamic resource, with the potential to become even greater as the product evolves.

ProQuest One Business. ProQuest.

Created with the aim of supporting business students honing research skills, this must-have resource compiles market and industry reports, interviews with business leaders, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, video case studies, forms, templates, and more. In addition to outstanding content, the database is also superbly organized and easy to navigate.

Sex & Sexuality Module II: Self-Expression, Community, and Identity. Adam Matthew Digital.

This second module of a database of primary sources related to sexuality, from the 19th century to the present, is a boon to historians. This easy-to-use offering presents a wide range of materials—from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, the National Archives (UK), and the University of Sussex, among others—that explore topics such as gender identity and persecution of the LGBTQIA+ community with nuance.

Mahnaz Dar is Reference & Professional Reading Senior Editor, LJ & School Library Journal.


Best Reference Works 2021

Best Free Resources 2021


Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing