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Does it make more sense to say

a reference database of [somethings]

or

a [something] reference database

For example, by replacing [something] with "library" we get:

a reference database of libraries

or

a library reference database

So which is more proper? Or does it matter?

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I expect the vast majority of references to reference database would lose no meaning whatsoever if they dropped the word reference. For the rest, it doesn't really matter whether the type of information being referenced comes before or after reference database in the name of the data source. –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '11 at 4:40
    
@FumbleFingers are you saying that reference database is redundant? –  yydl Nov 8 '11 at 4:46
2  
@yydl - unless this is a special database that has some special status as the single authoritative store of the information compared to all the other sources then yes it's redundant –  mgb Nov 8 '11 at 4:52
    
@MartinBeckett I wouldn't say single authoritative, but yes, authoritative. In other words, similar in meaning to "encyclopedia" –  yydl Nov 8 '11 at 6:01
    
It's standard terminology in crosswordland to specify the reference dictionary for really tough puzzles if the compiler actually restricts himself to a single one. In the UK it's often Chambers, which was also the original reference dictionary for UK Official Scrabble Words –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '11 at 13:11
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1 Answer

a reference database of libraries

or

a library reference database

May actually mean different things. A reference database of libraries could be a database holding library information while a library reference database could be a reference database used by the library and may be on any number of topics. I would agree with the commenters that "reference" may be a redundant word.

My local state university uses the following syntax when describing databases which would be useful for General Business topics:

Key resources for General Business
> Recommended databases to start your search
Show all General Business databases 
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