What is bird, and why is it needed?

Researchers are overwhelmed…

Librarians are overextended…

Collection Specialists need a single source…

There is a glaring omission in the mosaic of scholarly information sources. Paratext has heeded the call.

Libraries spend millions every year providing access to web-based research databases, from PsycInfo and Foreign Trade Statistics to the Digital Archives of Medieval Culture.

But where does one see them all? Who produces them? Are they Open Access or fee-based? Do these have identifiable research value?

Most important of all, how much time is required for all of this?

bird is an entirely new research and publishing initiative, created by research librarians, to identify and catalog the universe of web-based research databases found in academic libraries.

How was the bird title list developed?

Editorial analysis of bird: The Base Inventory of Research Databases began in 2021. After deduplicating, normalizing, and removing out-of-scope titles from our initial lists, the bird founding team identified approximately 7,500 unique research database titles. The editorial team is continually engaged in discovering new titles; titles that are available but no longer updated; as well as titles that have ceased publication.

The content within bird reflects U.S. academic interests. The number of titles by academic disciplines show the popularity of career-focused departments (such as business/economics, engineering, medicine, public health, law, and nursing), as well as the demand for liberal arts and social science materials.

The bird editorial team established the following guidelines for the inclusion of a title in bird. A database:

  • Must support scholarly research undertaken at the college and university level.
  • May be broad or narrow in scope, but must have value beyond a small geographic area.
  • May cover a wide range of publication types, or may be limited to one format.
  • May be complete or may grow as content is added.
  • May or may not be free to use.
  • While most titles are in English, Spanish, German and French, there are strong collections in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese reflecting the global research environment.
Screenshot of bird results page.

How would I use bird?

For subject specialists and collection staff a major issue is simply having enough time to stay abreast of all the content available to meet user needs. bird answers:

  • How many sites must I explore to learn what is available in my discipline?
  • Help! I am the English librarian and now I cover Performing Arts too, and I know little about resources in these fields. Where do I start?
  • Are there Open Access materials that might fit our users’ needs?
  • How can we better align our database budget to research and teaching priorities at our institution?

bird syncs with your own database holdings

A core feature of bird is that every search indicates which database title your library already has access to. This feature allows you to assess how your current collection matches with all available resources. Each library has their own customized portal to update your holdings whenever you choose, requiring no complicated technical support. It’s point and click.

A collaboration 30 years in the making

Paratext (est. 1993) and Compendium Library Services (est. 2006) are embarked upon a long-term initiative to refine and enrich bird data, as well deploy clear reporting tools which adapt with the needs of each institution.

Stylized bird in flight Please sign up for our email list — we’ll fly by to keep you up-to-date.

founding editorial group

Diane H. Smith, Lead Editor, MLS, MBA 

Associate University Librarian for Research and Educational Services, George Mason University; VP, Product Management, ProQuest; VP, Product Development and Management, LexisNexis; Chief, Reference and Instructional Services, Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Erica Swenson Danowitz, EdD, MLS, MA 

Reference Librarian and former Professor, Delaware County Community College.

Stacey Marien, MSLS, MBA 

Librarian Emerita, American University; Business Librarian and Acquisitions Librarian; Business Librarian, Elon College (now University.)

Sue Miller, MSLS, BS, Management Engineering 

Independent Librarian in reference and research; engineer in industry and distribution.

Helen M. Sheehy, MLIS

Associate Librarian Emerita, Pennsylvania State University; Head of Social Sciences and Maps Library.

Christine Carlson Whittington, MSLS, MA 

Former Library Director, James Addison Jones Library, Greensboro College; Head of Arts Library, Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University; Head of Reference, Fogler Library, University of Maine.