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State Agency Databases Project: What is a Database?

For a resource to be included in the State Agency Databases Project guides, it must be:

  1. Produced by an agency of a state government or a political subdivision (i.e. county, city, school district, library district, etc).
    • An agency is an entity that either gets a majority of its funding from state/local government AND/OR its governance is appointed by the State government. Under this definition of agency, most state universities with a state appointed board of regents is a state agency for project purposes.
  2. Available to be searched by the public.
  3. Be a database. What is a database? Here is our definition:

Database - An information resource where the end user varies input and gets different results based on the input.

  • The input can take the form of typing in terms into a resource with fielded searching capability.
  • The input can take the form of choosing criteria from a list.
  • The input can take the form of selecting from various drop down boxes or radio buttons.
  • Stretching the definition a little, searching text from a single subject wiki can count as a database.

Records in a database may be surrogates (meaning they describe an object) or they may be the objects themselves (like a database of full-text electronic government reports).

What doesn't count as a database? Links to top level pages for States or their agencies. This project isn't aiming to be an agency directory as most state websites already do a good job of that. Neither is it really intended to be a 50-State, "cool links" list because other sites are fulfilling that role, at least in part.

Our documents specialists may sometimes find non database or non-agency resources that are useful for their state. They have the option of creating an "Other Resources" tab for their State Guide, but that is not a project requirement.