Which library databases are accessible?
A cornerstone in every student's education is the library, which provides a resource for retrieving information and conducting research. Web-based library databases provide the gateway through which much of today's scholarly information is accessed. Many of these products originally had text-based interfaces, but, like most other websites, most have migrated to a graphic interface and have done so with varying degrees of attention paid to accessibility issues.
Several studies have tested and documented the accessibility of various library database services:
- A special theme issue of the journal Library Hi Tech (Volume 20 , 2002) focused on the accessibility of web-based library resources. This issue includes accessibility evaluations of many major online catalogs, indexes, databases, and other products, including Endeavor's WebVoyage, epixtech's iPac, EBSCOhost, Gale (Infotrac), LEXIS/NEXIS (Academic Universe), OCLC/FirstSearch, ProQuest, Wilson, Britannica Online, and the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as an assessment of 8 web-based health information resources.
- The Technology Access Program at Oregon State University continues to update its live document Accessibility of Online Databases: A Usability Study of Research Databases. This study revealed a complete reversal of accessibility between Fall 1999 and Fall 2002, from approximately 95% inaccessible to 95% accessible. The study evaluated 120 content-specific resources produced by thirty-seven different vendors and found only 2 resources to be totally inaccessible.