Abstract Productive earth-science databases require managers who are familiar with and skilled at using available software developed specifically for database management. There also should be a primary user with a clearly understood mission. The geologic phenomenon addressed by the database must be sufficiently understood, and adequate appropriate data must be available to construct a useful database. The database manager, in concert with the primary user, must ensure that data of adequate quality are available in the database, as well as prepare for mechanisms of releasing the data when the database is terminated. The primary user needs to be held accountable along with the database manager to ensure that a useful database will be created. Quality of data and maintenance of database relevancy to the user's mission are important issues during the database's lifetime. Products prepared at termination may be used more than the operational database and thus are of critical importance. These concepts are based, in part, on both the shortcomings and successes of GEOTHERM, a comprehensive system of databases and software used to store, locate, and evaluate the geology, geochemistry, and hydrology of geothermal systems.