Reference Databases

-this list was pulled from an older vesion on the NDSS library site


World Book
Reliable and accessible information, nicely laid out with paragraph breaks, clear subtopics, and an outline for each article; great charts, maps and graphics; clear straight-forward writing at an accessible reading level; much easier to use than some encyclopedias which don’t break up the text, and are written in academic language. (Username: NDSS Password: NDSS68)


Encyclopedia Britannica
Reliable and venerable, this massive encyclopedia, first published in the 1770s in Edinburgh, Scotland remains a classic. It has three main components: the “Micropaedia” has short articles for fact checking and short searches; the Macropaedia has longer articles; and the Propaedia, which serves as the index, claims to provide “an outline of human knowledge” – the big picture! Take a look a this to put your present assignment in context… (For username and password for home use, see list in the learning commons or email Mr.Lettington.)

Ebsco is a large and varied database. It provides access to full journal articles, to Novelist, which has a lot of information on books, and to a Canadian Points of View collection that provides articles and critical thinking on a wide range of issues. There is much more. It takes time to know what these larger databases have to offer. Consider exploring one section at a time. This is an excellent place to look for journal articles. (For username and password for home use, see list in the learning commons or email Mr. Lettnigton.)

Gale Virtual Reference Library
This is an incredible collection of reference resources for every subject area: history, science, art, law, medicine, literature, etc. Here you will find up-to-date encylopedias of indepth information. Our district has a subscription. (For username and password for home use, see list in the learning commons or email Mr. Lettington)

Global Issues in Context
Another part of our Gale subscription, this site has up-to-date facts, discussions, articles and other resources on global issues. If you are researching any kind of global issue, be it from global warming to unrest in the middle east, gun control in the U.S., ocean pollution, or issues in education, look here first. This site includes links to current news articles on issues explored as well. Look for facts, opinions and bias.

Library and Archives Canda

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

Library and Archives Canda: Ethno-Cultural & Immigration

Find links to various resources relating to Indigenous and immigrant groups in Canada. Canada’s 36 million inhabitants reflect a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup found nowhere else on earth. Over 200,000 immigrants a year from all parts of the globe continue to choose Canada as their new home.

Find links to various resources relating to Indigenous and immigrant groups in Canada.

Canadian and BC Databases

Gale Issues in Context

Canada In Context is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information on a broad range of Canadian topics, people, places, and events. The solution merges Gale’s authoritative and continuously updated reference content, written from a Canadian perspective, with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.

Encyclopedia of British Columbia

Check here first for any info. you are looking for to do with British Columbia. We have paper copies of this encyclopedia in the library, which are also excellent, but this site is updated with new information and resources.

BC Archives

This is an awesome resource for finding out about BC’s past. The “Time Machine” is a user-friendly and colourful way to learn about BC history and the material is matched up with the social studies curriculum. Another great thing about this site is that you can search a large collection of photos of events and of people, both famous and ordinary, from throughout BC’s history. These are in the public domain, which means everyone can download and use them without worrying about copyright. It’s a great way to give a socials project that authentic feel.

The Canadian Encyclopedia

This is a top quality site. If you are interested in Canada and its history, geography and culture, you will have a hard time leaving this site. It has a vast array of articles, and the interactive resources are fun. For example, you’ll find galleries where you click on images to find out interesting facts, a comprehensive timeline, a list of the 100 “Greatest” Events of Canadian history, and 60 or more quizzes on Canada.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

A long-standing joint project of the University of Toronto and l’Université Laval, this is the place to look for reliable information about famous Canadians. Historical figures are put in context.

Virtual Museum of Canada

With images of artefacts, and over 600 full virtual exhibits from museums across Canada, this is another treasure trove funded by the federal government. An educators’ section enables teachers to create online content, using museum resources, and a searchable database makes that content shareable with teachers across the country. This is a good place to explore if you just want to see stuff, or if you have a particular topic or theme in mind.

National Film Board

Founded in 1939, the NFB is one of the most amazing of federally funded institutions. This site offers free streaming of thousands of documentary and animated Canadian films. All Canadians may view many of these films free online from the site at home. (With a subscription, additional resources are available and these films may also be purchased.) if we ever have guaranteed good streaming of video content in the school, this would be an amazing resource for teachers to use in the classroom. Suggested search for exploring this site: Click on Films and the drop-down menu will show you New, Channels and Explore.


CANSIM stands for Canadian socieoeconomic databases. Here you’ll find facts about Canadian life, including all the info. gathered by the census. Click on the Browse by Key Resource tab to find some interesting sets of info, including maps that provide visual representations of regional characteristics, differences and trends. Check the Today’s Releases link to see what set of data has just been released. Opinions are more likely to be valid if they are based on facts, and having access to the socioeconomic facts of a nation is essential for sound interpretation of the reality in which people live. Public access to this sort of information is a strong indication that we live in a democratic society. In some countries, this information is not publicly available.

LearnNowBC Study Centre

Previously know as “StudyBuzz”, this site provides live tutoring, video lessons by BC teachers, quizzes to assess your learning needs, free courses, and lists of resources. You need your PEN (Provincial Education Number) to set up an account. This number is on all report cards.


Although students may wish to browse through the fiction titles, this site is mainly of interest to teachers. It is a database of books and other resources that have been evaluated and recommended by BC teachers and teacher-librarians for classroom use. You can search for resources by grade level, subject area, or by course, and will find novel summaries, as well as some analysis of content in terms of theme, social considerations, etc.

Subject-Specific Databases


Encyclopedia Mythica

The work of a number of academics, this site boasts “over 7,000 entries on gods and goddesses, heroes, legendary creatures and beings from all over the world.” It also includes images.

Social Studies

See above for many databases that are excellent for social studies.

National Geographic Map-Maker

The National Geographic site has many wonderful resources for students and teachers. It’s an especially great place to get free maps – blank, or with the information you choose on them. Scroll down the front page of this link to see Printable One-Page Maps. Here you can select a map of a continent, country, or province, set it up with the degree of detail you wish it to display. You then print it off as a pdf, or save as an image or as a re-openable file to insert into a document: up-to-date, easy, and free.

BBC Country Profiles

This is an excellent database of current, concise and essential information about hundreds of countries around the world: an excellent place to start when researching any country.

Holocaust Encyclopedia

This site is the creation of the American Holocaust museum and is a must for anyone studying the Holocaust. The Education for Students section is excellent, and the Holocaust testimonies, both written and audio, are good examples of signiificant primary sources. To find them, click on the “History” tab and select “Personal Histories”.

Science: General

Eric Weisstein’s Science World

Click on Eric Weisstein’s name to find out how he started amassing science and math facts as a teenager and then went on to earn a PhD, and also to create this encyclopedia. This site has info. on chemistry, math, physics and astronomy. Most sections are not very large, but the encylopedia is user-friendly and has good information. It would be useful for looking up definitions and for brief descriptions of concepts. The section of biographies of famous scientist is extensive, however, as is the math section which deals with advanced mathematics, and is also a separate site. This site is sponsored and promoted by Wolfram Research, a software development company that supports research in science for educational purposes.

Encyclopedia of Earth
This site, written and reviewed by experts, has a broad scope, covering topics from mining, to scientist biographies to environmental law to animals, geography – and much more. It is user-friendly and attractive, and will appeal to anyone interested in the environmental sciences, including ecology.


Encyclopedia of Life

Supported by numerous academic and scientific institutions, the goal of the EOL is to provide information about, and pictures of, every species on the planet. A global collaborative project, this awesome resource is already very comprehensive. Scroll to the bottom of the front page to find a handy index.

Animal Diversity Web
This site, created and run by the department of Zoology at the University of Michigan, explores the natural history of animals. It includes pictures, videos, descriptions written by students, and articles written by professional biologists. Scroll down to search by phylum. Rather than researching specific animals, you learn about the phyla and will find photos of specimens.

The Plant List
A collaborative project of English (Kew – London) and American (Missouri) botannical gardens, this site is “a working list of all plant species”. This site is not concerned to describe individual species. Browse the four major plant groups, or orders, to gain a better understanding of plant taxonomy.

As the name of this site suggests, the focus of this site is on promoting the protection of endangered species. Arkive is a project of Wildscreen, a charity “working globally to promote an appreciation of biodiversity and nature through the power of wildlife imagery.” This user-friendly site is informative, but also visually stunning, with over 100,000 videos. Also of interest is the section on the people who work on the site. There are many young people who have studied science, or IT, who seem to have found a very rewarding career working for this organisation.

Here you can find information on “practically all fish species known to science”. This site was created in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and is supported by the European Commission and nine research institutions, including UBC’s Fisheries Centre. There is a lot of other information on this site. For example, if you search by country, you can select Canada and find out about fishing, aquaculture and fish species in Canada.


Math World
Like the Science World site above, this site is a Wolfram Research site and is the creation of Eric Weisstein. Math World is a comprehensive source on mathematics and, as such, goes well beyond high school mathematics. There is lots of useful information here for the high school math student, though, and the MathWorld Classroom link has a useful list of definitions for mathematical concepts.

MacTutor History of Mathematics
Created by the School of Mathematics and Statistics at St. Andrews University, Scotland, this truly awesome site features biographies of mathematicians, the history of mathematical theories and discoveries, the mathematics of different cultures, a page specifically on female mathematicians, quotations by mathematicians, and much, much more: an wholistic look at mathematics.


Encyclopedia of Music in Canada

This encylopedia is part of the Canadian encyclopedia and has lots of fun features. For example, you can read biographies of musicians, find out about different instrument manufacturers and read about competitions and festivals. This is also a good place to learn about record companies and distributors, and for researching music schools for studying music. One interesting feature is the link to articles on 140 French and English Canadian songs – some older traditional songs and some more recent. Information is provided about each song, and sometimes there is a link to a YouTube performance, or audio file.