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Library Lingo


Abstract: A brief summary of the content of a book, article, speech, report, or dissertation.

Academic Library: A library of a college, university, or other post-secondary educational institution,

 administered to meet the information and research needs of its students, faculty, and staff.

Access Point: A name, term, heading, or code in a bibliographic record under which library materials 

may be searched, identified, and retrieved.

Accession Number: Identifying number for a document in a database.

Almanac: An annual compendium of facts and statistics, current and retrospective, of practical use to readers


Annotation: A critical or explanatory note, sometimes included in a bibliography or citation.

APA style: Writing a paper according to APA style simply means you are standardizing the way you write the paper 

so that others who read it know exactly what every little reference and comma means. APA Style rules and guidelines

 are found in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Appendix: A part of a written work, not essential to the completeness of the text, which contains complementary information 

such as statistical tables or explanatory material.

Article: A composition on a topic, which is usually found in periodicals (journals, magazine, newspaper, etc.) 

and reference works (encyclopedias, biographies, dictionaries, etc.)

Archive: An organized collection of the documents and records of an institution, government, organization, or 

corporate body, or the personal papers of an individual, family, or group, preserved in a repository for their historical value.

Atlas: A book of maps.


Author: A writer of a book, essay, story, play, poem or other work. Some works have two or more co-authors. 

In the libraries' catalog, authorship is sometimes attributed to an organization, conference symposium, or institution.

 Other individuals 

such as an editor, playwright, director, composer, performer, or other, may also be considered an author.


Autobiography: An account of one's life written by oneself. See also biography.


Barcode: A printed label containing machine-readable data in the form of vertical lines or bars. Used to identify books

 and other materials in the library, and read by a scanner when an item is checked out.


Bibliographic Record: The description of a specific document, consisting of the title, statement of responsibility

 (author, editor, etc.), edition, type of publication, publisher, date and place of publication, physical description, series, notes,

 and standard numbers (ISBN, ISSN).


Bibliography: A list of references used in a book or article. Long bibliographies may be published separately in 

book form or online.

Biography: An account of a person's life, written by another. The person who writes a biography is the biographer. 

The person written about is known as the biographee.

Book  Return: A place to return books borrowed from the library. The book return may be located outside the library or

near the Circulation Desk in the library.


Boolean Searching: Using special commands (operators) to tell a database system how words being searched relate to 

one another. The three basic Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT. AND will narrow a search. OR will broaden a search. 

NOT will remove a concept from a search.


Borrow: To check out or charge out library materials.

Bound Periodicals: Older issues of periodicals that have been bound together as a book. This is done to preserve them


 to make storage easier.


Call number: A unique location code that appears on the spine of a book or bound periodical and tells you where 

the book should be found on the shelves. (e.g. Library of Congress call numbers)


Catalog/ Catalogue: A catalog/catalogue contains records, with detailed descriptions and location information,

of the materials in a library collection. Catalog records for NCU Libraries are accessible online.

Chat Reference: A service provided by librarians over the Internet that allows you to ask reference questions from anywhere. 

You and the librarian will communicate with one another in "real time."

Check out, Charge out: To borrow materials from a library for a fixed period of time. The maximum check out period at 

NCU Libraries depends on the status of the borrower (faculty, graduate student, undergraduate).

Circulate: To loan library materials to users.

Circulation Desk: The area where you can check out, return, or renew library materials.

Citation: A brief description of a text (book, article, report, World Wide Web page, or other) that has been quoted, 

or used as a source. The exact arrangement and formatting of a citation is dictated by a style manual. The choice of style manual 

depends on the discipline or subject matter.

Collection: An accumulation of library materials with common characteristics (for example, audiovisual materials, reference materials).

MLA style: MLA style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. 

Generally simpler and more concise than other styles, MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed

 to an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the work. The MLA Handbook is published by

the Modern Language Association, the authority on MLA documentation style.

Citation Index: A special type of index which lists works cited in later works, with a list of the sources from which the citations

were gathered. Used by researchers to locate sources related by subject to a previously published work.

Classification: A method of arranging materials like books or journals, often by topic.

Collected work: A book of works by different authors (essays, stories, poems, plays) selected for publication by an editor.

Copyright: The legal right granted to an author, editor, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, 

production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.

Course Reserve: A service in which, upon request by faculty, certain library materials are temporarily assigned 

a much shorter loan period. The purpose of reserves is to ensure that all students taking a course will be able to share materials.

Restrictions on the use of reserve materials may vary.


Cross Reference: In a catalog or index, a direction that leads a user from one entry or subject heading to another.


Current Periodicals: The most recent issues of a journal or magazine that a library has received.

Database: A comprehensive collection of related data (articles or other materials) organized for convenient access, 

usually through a computer.

Holdings: The material owned by the library.

Index: (1) A list of names or topics usually found at the end of a publication, which directs you to the pages where the people /places 

or topics are discussed.(2) A printed or electronic publication that lists references to periodicals articles or books by and /or author.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL): A service offered by libraries that lets you borrow materials from other libraries.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number): A unique 10-digit number that is given to every book or edition of a book 
before publication to identify the publisher, the title, the edition, and volume number.
ISSN (International Standard Serial Number): A unique 8-digit number that identifies a specific periodical title.

Journal: A publication distributed periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.), devoted to a specific field or sub field of knowledge. 

Journals usually contain scholarly articles written by professors, researchers, or experts in a subject area. Articles usually contain 

an abstract and a bibliography showing cited resources.

Keyword: A word used in searching catalogs and databases to describe a topic subject in a document.

Library of Congress (LC) Classification: The classification system used in the Library of Congress, and used for
 arranging of the collections in the HSWRC library.    
Loan period: The amount of time library materials may be borrowed; this depends on: (1) the type of material to be borrowed; 
(2) the borrower's status (student, faculty, staff).

Magazine: A periodical intended for the general public rather than for scholars (e.g., Newsweek, Time, Business Week).

Media: Non-print materials such as films, filmstrips, videocassettes, audio compact disks, audiocasettes, and vinyl LPs.

Microfiche: A 4x6 inch sheet of film, used for storage of miniaturized text. Microfiche and reader/printers are often found near

 the Periodicals Department.

Microfilm: A continuous roll of film, used for storage of miniaturized text (usually journals or magazines).

Microform: Film medium for storage of miniaturized text. Includes both microfiche and microfilm.

Monograph: A publication that appears one time only. Books or reports are usually monographs; periodicals are not.

Non-circulating: Library materials that may not be checked out; they may only be used on-site in the library where they are housed.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Online catalog: A computer database that lists most books, serials, and non-print items owned by a library.

Overdue: An item checked out that the borrower has kept past its due date. A library will usually charge a fine for overdue items.

Patron record: The data kept by a library's electronic system, containing information about a borrower's account 

(address, telephone number, items checked out, holds, unpaid fines, etc.).

Periodical: A publication distributed on a regular schedule (e.g., weekly or monthly). Popular periodicals are called magazines 

and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Newspapers are also periodicals.

Preservation: The process of maintaining library and archival materials in condition suitable for use, either in their original form or 

in some other, usually more durable, form.

Quick Reference/ Ready Reference: A collection of frequently used reference materials such as telephone directories, 

schedules of classes, campus maps, etc.

Record: Each item or document in a database. A record could be a citation, a table, or a complete full text document.

Reference material: A document such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, or directory, that contains specific facts, data, 

or other brief bits of information.

Reference (or Service) Desk: The place in the library where reference librarians and assistants give you directions, 

answer your questions, and show you how to find and use library materials. The desk is usually located near reference materials.

Serial: A term that describes a wide range of publications that are issued in successive parts with no predictable end in sight. 

Magazines, journals, newspapers, annual reports, some conference proceedings, and annual reviews are all examples of serials.

Stacks: Areas of a library where books and periodicals are shelved. The location of a particular item in the library can be 

determined from the call number.

Style manual: A guide that provides rules and formats for arranging footnotes, citations, and bibliographies (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.). 

The choice of style manual depends on the discipline or subject matter. Professors will provide guidance to students as to 

which style manual to use.





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