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Glossary of Library Terminology

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Multilingual Language Table

The Association of College & Research Libraries provides a Glossary of Library Terminology Table in six languages.

Undergraduate Engagement Librarian

Bronwen  Maxson's picture
Bronwen Maxson
Contact:
Pronouns: She/Ella/Ela

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
bmaxson@uoregon.edu
541-346-3069

Confused by library terms? Consult the list below for help. 
Contact your Subject Librarian or Ask Us for additional guidance.


 A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Definitions provided by the Instruction Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Additional definitions provided by Libraryspeak: A Glossary of Terms in Librarianship and Information Management. Mary Mortimer. Friendswood, TX: TotalRecall Publications, 2007.

 

 A

Abstract: A summary or brief description of the content of another longer work such as a book or article. An abstract is often provided along with the citation to a work.

Archives: 1. A space which houses historical or public records. 2. The historical or public records themselves, which are generally non-circulating materials such as collections of personal papers, rare books, ephemera, etc. 3. In the electronic medium, often used to refer to the “back files”, or older volumes and issues of journals.

Article: A brief work—generally between 1 and 35 pages in length—on a topic. Often published as part of a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Authentication: A security process that typically employs usernames and passwords to validate the identity of users before allowing them access to certain information.

Author: The person(s) or organization(s) that wrote or compiled a document. Looking for information under its author's name is one option in searching.


 B

Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document. See also Reference.

Book: A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. May be print or electronic.

Booking: a reservation to use an item on a specific day for a specific period of time, as for Audio and Video material or Study Rooms.

Boolean operator: A word—such as AND, OR, or NOT—that commands a computer to combine search terms. Helps to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) searches.


C

Call number: A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. Three major types of call numbers are Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and Superintendent of Documents.

Catalog: A database (either online or on paper cards) listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library. Various search terms allow you to look for items in the catalog.

Check-out: To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it. Check-out periods vary by library. Items are checked out at the circulation desk.

Circulation: The place in the library, often a desk, where you check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.

Citation: A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. A citation to a book includes its author's name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.

Controlled vocabulary: Standardized terms used in searching a specific database. See also Descriptor.

Copy card: A card that enables its user to print from a computer, or to make copies of a document at a photocopy machine. Student ID cards sometimes serve as copy cards. See also Duck Bucks.

Course management system (CMS): Integrated online applications that allow users to view and complete class materials and post messages, which facilitate discussion beyond the classroom. Also referred to as a “Learning Management System” or “Course Management Software.”

Course reserve: Select books, articles, videotapes, or other materials that instructors want students to read or view for a particular course. These materials are usually kept in one area of the library and circulate for only a short period of time. See also Electronic reserve


D

Database: A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.

Descriptor: A word that describes the subject of an article or book; used in many computer databases. A type of Controlled Vocabulary. See also Controlled VocabularySubject Heading.

Dissertation: An extended written treatment of a subject (like a book) submitted by a graduate student as a requirement for a doctorate.

Document delivery: A service that retrieves or photocopies information sources for library users. Some libraries restrict document delivery services to distance education students, faculty members, or graduate students.

DOI: Acronym for Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by the publisher to a digital object.

Duck Bucks: Your UO ID card includes a debit card program called Duck Bucks (previously called Campus Cash) that allows you to print or copy at UO Libraries. See also Copy Card.


E

E-book (or Electronic book): An electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer or mobile device.

Editor: A person or group responsible for compiling the writings of others into a single information source. Looking for information under the editor's name is one option in searching.

Electronic reserve (or E-reserve): An electronic version of a course reserve that is read on a computer display screen. See also Course reserve.

Encyclopedia: A work containing information on all branches of knowledge or treating comprehensively a particular branch of knowledge (such as history or chemistry). Often has entries or articles arranged alphabetically.


F

Flash drive: A small portable device for storing computerized information. A flash drive, sometimes called a thumb drive, can plug into the USB (Universal Serial Bus) port of any computer and store electronic information. See also Thumb drive.

Full text: The complete text of an article or book online. 


G

Genre/Form: Differs from subject headings in describing what an item is, rather than what it is about. For example, Form is defined as a characteristic of works with a particular format and/or purpose. A "short" is a particular form, for example, as is "animation." Genre refers to categories of works that are characterized by similar plots, themes, settings, situations, and characters. Examples of genres are westerns and thrillers. In the term Horror films "horror" is the genre and "films" is the form.


H

Hold: A request to have an item saved (put aside) to be picked up later. Holds can generally be placed on any regularly circulating library material in-person or online.

Holdings: The materials owned by a library.


I

Index: 1. A list of names or topics—usually found at the end of a publication—that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.

Interlibrary services/loan: A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. See also Document delivery.


J

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. See also Periodical.


K

Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of an information resource that indicates its subject and is often used as a search term.


L

Learning management system: See also Course management system.

LibrarySearch: See also Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)

Limits/limiters: Options used in searching that restrict your results to only information resources meeting certain other, non-subject-related, criteria. Limiting options vary by database, but common options include limiting results to materials available full-text in the database, to scholarly publications, to materials written in a particular language, to materials available in a particular location, or to materials published at a specific time.


M

Magazine: A publication, issued on a regular basis, containing popular articles, written and illustrated in a less technical manner than the articles found in a journal.

Microform: A reduced sized photographic reproduction of printed information on reel to reel film (microfilm) or film cards (microfiche) or opaque pages that can be read with a microform reader/printer.

Multimedia: Any information resource that presents information using more than one media (print, picture, audio, or video).


N

Newspaper: A publication containing information about varied topics that are pertinent to general information, a geographic area, or a specific subject matter (i.e. business, culture, education). Often published daily.


O

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC): A computerized database that can be searched in various ways— such as by keyword, author, title, subject, or call number— to find out what resources a library owns. OPAC will supply listings of the title, call number, author, location, and description of any items matching one's search. Also referred to as “library catalog” or “online catalog.”


P

Peer-reviewed journal: Peer review is a process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the experts’ peers. Peer review helps to ensure the quality of an information source. See also refereed journalscholarly journal.

Periodical: An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals. See also Serial.

Permalink: A link that will return you to the same page every time you click the link.

Plagiarism: Using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging the original source.

Primary source: An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.

Proxy server: An Internet server that acts as a “go-between” for a computer on a local network (secure system) and the open Web. Often checks to determine “right of access” to the secure environment and speeds up requests by caching frequently accessed Web pages.  See also Authentication.

Publisher: An entity or company that produces and issues books, journals, newspapers, or other publications.


Q

QR code: Abbreviation for  Quick Response code . A two-dimensional bar code that is made of small squares in a unique pattern. QR codes allow users to connect to additional resources through mobile devices. 


R

Recall: A request for the return of library material before the due date.

Refereed journal: See also Peer-reviewed journal.

Reference: 1. A service that helps people find needed information. 2. Sometimes "reference" refers to reference collections, such as encyclopedias, indexes, handbooks, directories, etc. 3. A citation to a work is also known as a reference.

Remote access: The ability to log onto (or access) networked computer resources from a distant location. Remote access makes available library databases and Journals to students researching from home, office, or other locations outside the library. See also Authentication.

Renewal: An extension of the loan period for library materials.

Request: a hold for a specific resource. See also: Hold

Reserve: 1. A service providing special, often short-term, access to course-related materials (book or article readings, lecture notes, sample tests) or to other materials (CD-ROMs, audio-visual materials, current newspapers or magazines). 2. Also the physical location—often a service desk or room—within a library where materials on reserve are kept. Materials can also be made available electronically. See also Course reserveElectronic reserve.

Resource Type: The format in which a particular resource is available. For example: Print Book, eBook, Journal, Article, Dissertations & Theses, Newspaper Article, Review, DVD, Microform, Government Document, etc.


S

Scholarly journal: See Peer-reviewed journal.

Search statement/Search Query: Words entered into the search box of a database or search engine when looking for information. Words relating to an information source's author, editor, title, subject heading or keyword serve as search terms. Search terms can be combined by using Boolean operators and can also be used with limits/limiters.

Secondary sources: Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.

Serial: Publications such as journals, magazines and newspapers that are generally published multiple times per year, month, or week. Serials usually have number volumes and issues.

Special Collections: a collection of materials that is treated in a special way because of its subject matter, age, value, etc. These items are typically not available to check out.

Stacks: Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to as “book stacks.”

Style manual: An information source providing guidelines for people who are writing research papers. A style manual outlines specific formats for arranging research papers and citing the sources that are used in writing the paper.

Subject heading: Descriptions of an information source’s content assigned to make finding information easier. See also Controlled vocabulary, Descriptors.

Summit: If you need an item that can't be supplied by UO Libraries, it may be available through Summit. Summit is the combined catalog of member libraries of the Orbis Cascade Alliance. These Pacific Northwest academic libraries have joined together to allow easy searching, requesting, and delivery of more than 27 million items to students, staff, and faculty.


T

Thesis: A written work prepared for the award of a diploma or degree, especially a post-graduate degree.

Thumb Drive: See also Flash drive.

Title: The name of a book, article, or other information source.


U

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The unique address for a Web page which is used in citing it. A URL consists of the access protocol (http), the domain name (www.uoregon.edu), and often the path to a file or resource residing on that server.

User ID: A number or name unique to a particular user of computerized resources. A user ID must often be entered in order to access library resources remotely.


V

Virtual reference: A service allowing library users to ask questions through email, text message, or live-chat as opposed to coming to the reference desk at the library and asking a question in person. Also referred to as “online reference” or “e-reference.”

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A secure computer network for the exchange of confidential information. VPN (virtual private network) software allows you to connect your computer to the campus network as if you were physically attached to the network when on campus. The client VPN allows you to authenticate one time, with access to all library resources as long as you remain logged in. To use the client VPN, you will need to download and install a small application.


W

Wireless: The name given to any electronic device that sends messages through space via electric or electromagnetic waves instead of via power cords.

 

 

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