Database of the Month: Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)

Gale Virtual Reference Library

What is Gale Virtual Reference Library?

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is a database of encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources, searchable all at once. Think: authoritative and quick information for beginning your research.

When to Use Gale Virtual Reference Library (instead of Google or Wikipedia)

GRVL answers such questions as:

  • the percentage change of discretionary income in the Northeast from just before the onset of the 2008 recession as compared to the following year (ANSWER: consult GVRL’s American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money)
  • a brief biography of composer Leonard (actually Luis) Bernstein for a public speaking class (ANSWER: consult GVRL’s Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians)
  • the background of a particular ad campaign (ANSWER: consult GVRL’s Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns for a topical overview of – for example – Apple Computer’s Think Different ad campaign)

Think you need to trek to the library to consult a reference book, that dictionary or encyclopedia? Think again.

What Makes Gale Virtual Reference Library such a Great Resource?

With so many different titles all in one (searchable) spot, think of GVRL as your authoritative go-to source for learning introductory, general information about a wide range of topics. With full-text access to electronic reference books, including titles in the arts, business, the environment, history, literature, medicine, multicultural studies, geography, and science, GVRL should be your first stop in quick stats, fact checks, and topic overviews.

Sample Title List

Bentley Library’s subscription to Gale Virtual Reference Library comes with access to over 150 different titles (complete list here). Below are a few examples:

  • American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money
  • Encyclopedia of Gender in Media
  • Encyclopedia of Small Business
  • Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy
  • The Millennials: Americans Born 1977 to 1994
  • West’s Encyclopedia of American Law

Locating Information in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Simply browse reference titles from different subject areas on the home page and view an eBook without performing a search. Of course, if you’d prefer to enter a search term, there are both basic and advanced search options available.

Did you want to share what you found with others? Gale now offers InfoMarks functionality, allowing users to copy, bookmark, or email a persistent URL of nearly every page!

Final Notes

Librarians thought GVRL was such a fantastic resource that it was chosen as Library Journal’s Best Overall Database in 2012! Gale Virtual Reference Library is available through the Bentley Library’s Databases A to Z listing.


Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to an important research database, highlighting key features of the database that you should know about. If you would like more information about this database (or any of the library’s databases) please Ask a Librarian. If you would like a demonstration of this database for a class, please contact our Coordinator of User Education, Elizabeth Galoozis.

In Case You Missed It: Watch [Your Own Private Internet] Online

Your Own Private Internet: What the Internet is Hiding from You (And Why)On March 20, the Bentley Library Information Literacy Series hosted a panel of three experts and a moderator to talk about the phenomenon of personalization on the Internet known as the “filter bubble.” In case you missed it, we are happy to announce that the video is now available streaming (here).


“A world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there’s nothing to learn.” So wrote Eli Pariser in his 2011 book The Filter Bubble, about the ever-increasing personalization Internet users experience. Is he right? How can we evaluate information when it has been hand-picked for us – what are we missing when we search for information, and how do we know? How do crowdsourcing and other, more traditional conceptions of authoritative information contribute to this information environment? Is there an inherent tradeoff between precision and personalization when searching on the Internet? A panel of experts and researchers will convene at Bentley University to discuss these questions and others related to evaluating information on the open and social web.

About the Series

Founded in 2011, the Bentley Library Information Literacy Series is a series of lectures, panel discussions, and other events featuring experts in the field of information literacy. The series is designed to bring together librarians and experts from other fields inside and outside academia in order to bridge gaps in knowledge and understanding, and to expand awareness and critical thinking about information literacy. The events in the series are aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, librarians, and anyone with an interest in teaching and learning in an era of rapid change in information delivery and discovery.

“Your Own Private Internet: What the Internet is Hiding from You (And Why)”

note: podcast coming soon…

Database of the Month: Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Opposing ViOpposing Viewpoints in Contextewpoints in Context is a database dedicated to providing an exploration of current (and often controversial) social issues from all different perspectives. On the homepage, users can view the five spotlighted issues from the rolling carousel, browse categories and issues from a list, construct a basic keyword or advanced search, examine featured videos & news, and interact with statistical information on a wide range of issues using maps. All issues are grouped by theme and include the following eight categories: Business and Economics, Health and Medicine, National Debate Topic, Society and Culture, Energy and Environmentalism, Law and Politics, Science, Technology and Ethics, and War and Diplomacy.

Each issue and topic page includes:

  • Overview essay to provide foundational background for understanding the topic
  • Expert Picks resources deemed helpful for discovery and related content
  • Videos, Images, and Audio streaming video, along with a large collection of images and audio, all from reputable research sources
  • Viewpoints pro/con opinion articles to provide multiple perspectives for a particular issue
  • Reference background information in the form of topic/event overviews and biographies
  • News, Magazines, Academic Journals articles from more than 450 full-text English-language international sources
  • Statistics both interactive and static graphs, tables, and charts to support the different pro/con arguments
  • Primary Sources selections from transcripts of interviews, legislative acts, speeches and other sources
  • Websites narrative text accompanying direct link to the sites

Learn More

A short Intro video is provided as an overview to the database. Brief videos on Searching and Topic Pages and Documents are handy for providing tips to getting the most out of this database!

Another valuable library database for researching controversial social issues is CQ Researcher. Read our In the Know post on CQ Researcher to learn more.


Visit Opposing Viewpoints in Context to begin researching current social issues. You’ll find this resource, along with CQ Researcher, available on the Databases A-Z page.


Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to an important research database, highlighting key features of the database that you should know about. If you would like more information about this database (or any of the library’s databases) please Ask a Librarian. If you would like a demonstration of this database for a class, please contact our Coordinator of User Education, Elizabeth Galoozis.

On Display: And the (Book) Award Goes To

Currently on display in the library lobby is a twenty year retrospective look at the award winning books in both fiction and non-fiction. While there are many prestigious prizes awarded to books each year, the titles in this collection represent the winners of the Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and include some titles that have since been made into films.

You can see which award (or in some instances, awards as in the case of The Haunted Land, Embracing Defeat, The Hours, Independence Day, and Shipping News) was given to each title here on our Pinterest board or by visiting our display (just check out the bookmark placed inside the book).

The March

Database of the Month: MathSciNet

MathSciNet is the major search tool – and most comprehensive resource – for the international literature of mathematics and statistics. MathSciNetCreated and maintained by the American Mathematical Society (AMS), MathSciNet provides access to citations, abstracts, and limited linking to full-text for articles and reviews from 1940 to the present. The database offers subject indexing of historical, recent, and forthcoming mathematical publications with over 100,000 new items added annually.

More than Just Journals and Citations

As of this writing, MathSciNet indexes more than 1,900 current journals from the American Mathematical Monthly to the Journal of Difference Equations and Applications, and links to the full-text in databases such as JSTOR and Science Direct are available for some articles. But the database also contains a wealth of other resources including:

  • full-text access to Mathematical Reviews (MR) –the AMS journal reviewing the world’s mathematical literature
  • full-text access to Current Mathematical Publications (CMR) – the AMS early awareness journal, a subject index of recent and forthcoming mathematical publications
  • indexing of conference proceedings
  • indexing of books
  • indexing of Ph.D. theses with direct links to ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database

At present, MathSciNet contains records for over 2.7 million total publications. Starting in 2000, reference lists from the original articles have been added for a select list of journals called Reference List Journals. The Citations Block for each publication provides links to citations from reference lists and to citations from reviews.

Advanced Searching

In addition to the standard keyword, author, title, and subject searches, users can search for highly cited articles by year or by subject using the mathematical subject classification codes (MSC). To search using MSC, reference the classification schedule found from the Free Tools link in the upper right corner of the home page. While there, use the search tab Collaboration Distance to research connections and collaborations between authors. Free Tools has two additional browsing features of interest – Current Journals and Current Publications – to learn about recently published works.

Learn More

In response to requests from MathSciNet users and librarians, MathSciNet now offers tutorials on how to get the most out of searching. These tutorials treat each of the tabbed areas of MathSciNet – Publications, Authors, Journals, and Citations – as well as Free Tools and Preferences. Users are helped to take advantage of the rich structure of the databases underlying MathSciNet. Every user is likely to find a feature or search that they have not previously used.

Connect to this Database

Please visit MathSciNet to explore this valuable database further, or visit our Databases page to view a complete list of our resources.


Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to an important research database, highlighting key features of the database that you should know about. If you would like more information about this database (or any of the library’s databases) please contact the Reference Desk. If you would like a demonstration of this database for a class, please contact our Coordinator of User Education, Elizabeth Galoozis.

Following the Impact of the Japanese Earthquake: Using Global Insight and Factiva

On March 11, the northeastern region of Japan was devastated by one of the largest earthquakes on record. The resulting tsunami, with its 30 foot waves, wiped out whole coastal areas and currently a difficult search and rescue mission is underway in towns made isolated and nearly inaccessible by the path of destruction.  Meanwhile, the world is watching as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was hit by the 9.0 earthquake, struggles to avoid a nuclear meltdown after numerous emergency failures resulted in structural damage to the reactors and left spent fuel rods exposed.

In light of the unfolding crisis in Japan, the library is featuring two databases to track and monitor the events in Japan and their impact.  Use Factiva to track global news stories and Global Insight for analysis and forecasting of how Japan’s crisis may impact the global economic and political scene.


A major provider of news with over 28,000 sources from more than 200 countries in 23 languages and nearly 600 continuously updated newswires, Factiva provides a diverse offering of news content.

To read news stories about Japan in Factiva try the following search from the Search > Search Builder menu at the top left corner of the database home page:

  1. Click on Region.
  2. Click on the + icon next to Asian Pacific Countries/Regions.
  3. Click on the + icon next to Eastern Asian Countries/Regions.
  4. Click on the + icon next to Japan .

The above search will find articles about Japan from all Factiva’s news sources; however, it is also possible to search individual news sources and Factiva provides some Japanese news sources of interest:  

  • ACN Newswire (English language – daily real-time updates from Tokyo)
  • Akita Sakigake Shimpo (Japanese language)
  • Electric Daily News (English language – articles on the Japanese energy and electricity industries)
  • Japan Energy Scan (weekly publication in English -articles on energy scene in Japan and renewable energy; includes statistical data on imports and consumption)
  • Japan Times (English language Japanese daily newspaper)
  • Japanese World (English language continually updated text feed of news and fundamental data primarily about companies listed on the Tokyo and other Japanese Stock Exchanges)
  • M Data TV Watch-Tokyo (covers nine major programs of Japanese TV )
  • Nikkin (weekly publication with comprehensive financial news Japanese language)
  • Yamagata Shimbun (Japanese language daily)

Global Insight

Use Global Insight to read analysis on the disruption, risks and outlook following the earthquake.   The database contains a special In Focus report which provides ongoing analysis of the operational situation, the implications for economic growth, the political consequences, and the dangers of a major nuclear disaster.  Below are some tips to get started.

  1. The database is currently featuring quick access to its In Focus report on Japan.  From the database homepage, look for the link to Japan’s Post-Quake Recovery: In Depth on the right side of the page.
  2. Additionally, there is a comprehensive report about Japan in the list of Country Reports on the left side of the page. The country report provides a summary of key issues to watch and outlines the six-factor country risk.

For additional information about using Global Insight, please refer to our earlier article on this database.  A complete listing of the Bentley Library’s databases is available here.