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Glossary Of Library Terms

  • Abridged - A shortened version of a book or other documents.

  • Abstract a brief summary of a periodical article or a book.

  • Annotated Bibliography - A list of books, articles, or other documents on a topic or by a particular author containing a citation of each item, as well as a brief description and/or a critical evaluation of it.

  • Anthology - A collection of literary works by different authors, often limited to a specific subject, genre, or time period.

  • APA style - A set of rules and guidelines for citing references as well as preparing and submitting manuscripts for publication from the American Psychological Association. These rules are detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

  • Bibliographic Citation - The defining characteristics of an information source, like books, articles, videos, and government documents. For a book, the minimum information is: author, title, city of publication, publisher, and date of publication. For an article, the basic information is: author of article, title of article, title of publication, volume/issue, date, page number.

  • Bibliography - A list of citations formal descriptions for books, periodical articles, or other resources where information on a particular topic may be found. It is systematically arranged by author, title, date and place of publication, publisher, details of edition and page numbers.

  • Boolean Operator - Conjunctions AND, OR, and NOT. Terms are used to connect concepts and construct search statements in databases.

    AND retrieves items in which both terms are found picasso and guernica
    OR retrieves items in which either term is found behavior or behaviour
    NOT Retrieves items in which the first term is present but the second term is not eclipse not moon


  • Browser - Desktop software that allows you to view web pages. Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and Mozilla's Firefox are example of browsers.

  • Call number A combination of letters and numbers assigned to a book that gives it a specific location in the library. It is placed on the shelf near other books on the same subject. Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system.

  • Citation Specific information (including author, title, place and year of publications) that describes an information source. The purpose of a citation is to give the reader the information necessary to locate a resource.

  • Citing Sources As a basis for using information ethically, citing a source refers to giving credit to authors whose work you use. Citations are usually written following standard format from a style manual.

  • Controlled Vocabulary - A means of searching a resource using words or terms selected by the creator of the resource or by an organization or individual other than its user. In contrast to a keyword, which can be any word or term selected by the user of the resource. Descriptors and subject headings are types of controlled vocabulary.

  • Copyright - the privilege granted by a government to an author, composer, artist, etc. to publish and sell their own original work. A copyright establishes ownership of information. Copyrighted information is often stamped with the copyright symbol, but not always. Always assume that information belongs to someone and give credit to the original author by citing the source.

  • Database - a collection of information arranged into individual records to be searched by computer. This term is often used to describe the electronic or computerized version of an Index.

  • Full-text - Articles that are available online in their entirety, either in an online database or on the web are called "full-text articles." Usually, the content in a full-text article is the same as the content in the printed version of that article, if a printed version exists. A "full-text database" is one in which some or all of the articles indexed are available in full-text.

  • Hypertext - data that contains links to other data.

  • Index, Periodical Index - An index may be in the back of a book giving you access to the contents of a book. Similarly, a Periodical Index provides access to the contents (articles) in magazines, journals and newspapers. A periodical index usually provides access to several hundred or thousands of different titles of periodicals, providing access to periodicals on a variety of topics. Other periodical indexes are subject-specific, meaning they focus on a single subject. All periodical indexes provide bibliographic citations for articles, sometimes abstracts, and occasionally full-text of some (but usually not all) of the articles.

  • Information Literacy - The ability to identify, access, and evaluate various types of information sources, and be familiar with the issues involved in using information in an ethical manner.

  • Invisible Web - Information that resides on the Internet but cannot be searched by search engines because of layers of protocol or passwords. Most information in the invisible web is contained in databases, such as ProQuest or EBSCOhost. Some estimates say there may be as much as 500 times more information in the invisible web as in the visible web.

  • Journal A periodical on a specialized topic. Journals are often published by a professional association, society, foundation, or institute. A Refereed Journal, Scholarly Journal or Peer-reviewed Journal is one in which the process to determine if an article will be accepted for publication is done by professional colleagues, or peers (also known as the peer review process

  • Keyword Search use of a word or combination of words that describe a document in natural language as opposed to the controlled language used in a subject or descriptor search. See subject Search.

  • Magazine A periodical publication containing articles of general interest and audience, such as news, current events and popular material.

  • MLA style - A set of rules and guidelines for citing references as well as preparing and submitting manuscripts for publication from the Modern Languages Association. These rules are detailed in the MLA Handbook and MLA Style Manual.

  • Peer Review - a process by which an article submitted for publication in a scholarly journal is evaluated by an editorial board of subject experts for acceptance or rejection.

  • Periodical - a publication issued at regular intervals and expected to continue indefinitely. Examples of periodicals are journals, magazines and newspapers. See Journal and Magazine

  • Primary Source - A first-hand account, or the first appearance of information in print. For example, personal letters, diaries, and interviews are primary sources. See secondary source.

  • Reserve Material Selected by a professor to be available to all students in a class. These materials are housed behind the circulation desk.

  • Secondary Source - As compared to primary source, a secondary source does not include first-hand account. For example, a diary is a primary source. A biography based on information in the diary is a secondary source.

  • Site A location on the internet, such as a Web site. Do not confuse with cite.

  • Style Manual - Special guides that illustrate the accepted forms for citing references in bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes. Some style manuals are for general use. Others are published by professional associations as form guides for articles in journals in that field of knowledge and research.

    The most commonly used style manuals are the following:
    • A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Also called Turabian)
    • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
    • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Also called APA)

  • Subject Heading Standardized words or phrases assigned to books, articles or other materials. Subject headings are used to describe materials as well as to bring together materials that are similar in subject matter.

  • Subject Search The use of a controlled vocabulary to find books, articles or other materials in research databases. See keyword search.

  • Truncation - To search for the root of a word or for variations in the spelling of a word. Usually you must use a symbol to tell the computer to truncate

  • Verso - the backside of the title-page which usually gives the publication information needed for a citation.

  • Other Library Glossaries on the Internet:

    Boise State University Albertsons Library Acquisitions Department Glossary

    ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz

    Ohio State University Libraries Library Language

    University of Michigan Library Library Glossary