Your Key to Understanding: The Ultimate Glossary


Abstract: A summary of an article or dissertation.

Academic Journal: Journal containing articles with full documentation, identifying sources used and written by scholars whose credentials are identified.

Accession Number: The unique identifier assigned to each item.

Access Points: Text and/or numeric terms used to search bibliographic records.

Acquisitions: Materials which are purchased for library use. Activities related to obtaining library materials by purchase, exchange, or gift, including pre-order bibliographic searching, ordering and receiving materials, processing invoices, and the maintenance of the necessary records related to acquisitions. (ALA Glossary)

Adobe Acrobat Reader: The computer program that is needed to open and view PDF’s. Most full-text databases provide articles in PDF format.

Almanac: A compendum of useful data and statistics relating to countries, personalities, ecvents, and subjects.

Analytic: A bibliographic record for a part of a publication, such as a part of a book, or an individual volume of a multi-volume work or monographic series, where each volume has its own unique title.

Annotated Bibliography: A list of works with description and a brief summary or critical statement about each.

Annotation: A note accompanying an entry in a bibliography, reading list, or catalog intended to describe, explain, or evaluate the publication referred to.

Anthology: A collection of extracts from the works of various authors, usually in the same genre or about the same subject. (Example: Norton Anthologyof English Literature). Sometimes a collection from the works of an individual author.

Appendix: Section of a book containing supplementary materials such as tables or maps.

Archives: 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, informational, and/or monetary value.

Arrangement: The order in which information is presented in a book. Determining arrangement contributes to the effective use of that work.

Article: A contribution written for publication in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Atlas: A volume of maps, plates, engravings, tables, etc.

Audiovisual: Includes compilers, editors, and composers in addition to the main personal and corporate authors who are responsible for a work.

Authority File: The computerized list of subjects, series, and name headings used in the Online Catalog.

Autobiography: An account of one's life, composed by one's self.


Barcode: A small label of closely spaced bars that can be read by a computer. Barcodes on books and on your GUST smart ID are used to check-out books from the Library.

Bibliographic Citations: The information which identifies a book or article. Information for a book usually includes the author, title, publisher, and date. The citation for an article includes the author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, pages, and date.

Bibliographic Database: A database which indexes and contains references to the original sources of information. It contains information about the documents in it rather than the documents themselves.

Bibliographic Record: The collection of information about an item recorded in a standard format and held in a database. In the past, these records were typed onto cards and filed in a card catalog. Today, they are computer records stored in an online catalog.

Bibliography: List of sources used to prepare your research paper. Also, a list of works cited by an author at the end of an article, paper, book, or other research-based writing. There are also specialized subject bibliographies published separately.

Book Review: An evaluation or discussion of a new book by a critic or journalist.

Book Stacks: Shelves in the library where materials - typically books - are stored. Books in the book stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to simply as the "stacks."

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT: Used to link, combine or eliminate terms in database or Internet searching.

Browser: Software program that supports point-and-click access to the Internet. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera are currently the mostly widely used.


Call Number: The unique address of a book in the stacks. The main system of call numbers used at the Library is the Library of Congress Classification (LCC).

Carrel: A study area for one person.

Catalog: The collection of records identifying and locating the items owned by a library is called its catalog. In the past, this would have been a large collection of drawers with cards called a card catalog. Each card contained the information needed to identify what a library owned and where it was located. Today, most libraries have moved to an online catalog, where the bibliographic records are entered into a database, which can be searched to find desired information.

CD-ROM (Compact Disc- Read Only Memory): Like an audio CD, a CD-ROM stores information for later playback. Many books are now published with CD-ROM’s that may have supplemental information, practice exercise, or guidelines for the book.

Check out or Charge:

Circulation and Reserve Desk: This is where materials are checked-out and returned. The reserves are also found at this desk.

Citation: A brief reference to an article, book, or other material; usually includes author, title, source, place and date of publication.

Citation Index: An index consisting essentially of a list of works which have been cited in other, later works, and a list of works from which the citations have been collected. Used to identify subsequently published works that are related by subject to the cited work.

Class Number: Top part of a call number which stands for the subject matter of the book.

Classification Scheme: Classification systems which use numbers and/or letters, to represent the subject content of materials.

Closed Stacks: A Library shelving system which restricts access to the books in the Library to Library employees only.

Conference Report: Papers generated at or for a conference; may include minutes, transcripts, papers, and/or presentations.

Connectors: Words that indicate the relationship between search terms. Also referred to as Boolean Operators. Common connectors are: AND, OR, NOT.

Controlled Vocabulary: Words used as subject headings by a catalog or an index. Often these words are listed in a thesaurus where you can see terms for a topic before you start to use that catalog or index.

Copyright: The legal right to control the production, use, and sale of copies of a literary, musical, or artistic work.

Course Reserves: Materials which a professor has identified as being important to a course. They may include supplemental information such as tests or quiz files, homework, class notes, solution sets, or textbooks.

Cross-Reference: A term used in catalogs, thesauruses and indexes to lead you from one form of entry to another.

Cumulation: An index which is formed as a result of the incorporation of successive parts of elements. All the material is arranged in one alphabet.

Current Periodicals: The latest or most recent issues of journals and magazines that the library receives.


Database: A collection of information (data) which is arranged in individual records and is searchable.

Descriptors: Subject headings developed for a specific index.

Dictionary: Source that provides word definition and correct grammatical usage. Dictionaries may be either general or subject specific.

Directory: A list of persons or organizations, systematically arranged, giving address, affiliations, etc. for individuals and address, officers, functions, and similar data for organizations.

Dissertation: A thesis or treatise prepared as a condition for the award of a degree or diploma.

Downloading: Refers to the transfer of search results into a file on a disc or drive.

Due Date: The date when borrowed Library materials should be returned or renewed.


Encyclopedia: General information source that provides articles on various branches of knowledge. Encyclopedias may be general or subject specific.

Endnotes: Notes (or statements explaining the text or indicating the basis for an assertion or the source of material quoted) that appear at the end of a work.(ALA Glossary)

Entry: An item or fact that has been "entered" (placed on a list or into a catalog or index or database). See also citation.

Essay: A literary composition in which the author analyzes or interprets a subject, often from a personal point of view.

Evaluation: A critical assessment of an information source.


Fields: A subdivision of a record. Fields include author, title, subject, etc.

Fine: The amount of money which is owed by the borrower if Library material is not returned when the book is due.

Footnote: A bibliographic note placed at the bottom of a page to let the reader know the source of information or quotation. A footnote is used to direct a reader elsewhere for additional information.

Format: The physical form in which information appears.

Full-Text: Some electronic databases provide the text of articles they index along with the citation and abstract.


Glossary: An alphabetic list of technical terms in some specialized field of knowledge.


Handbooks: General information source providing quick reference on a given subject. Handbooks may be general or subject specific.

Hold (on hold): A function in the online catalog which enables you to request that an item, currently checked out, be kept for you at the Circulation Desk rather than reshelved upon its return to the Library. You will be notified when the item is available.

Holdings: The materials owned or held by a library.

Hypertext: A document format which includes the use of specially coded terms or images which, when selected or "clicked," connect to a linked location or file, or carry out a command to run an application or program.


Imprint: The name of the publisher, distributor, manufacturer, etc. and the place and date of publication, distribution, manufacture, etc. of a bibliographic item.

Index: Tools for finding citations, abstracts, or complete text; arranged usually in alphabetical order of some specified datum (author, subject, or keyword).

Information Literacy: The ability to recognize a need for information, find, evaluate, and use that information in whatever format (print index, online database, Internet, etc) it appears.

Interlibrary Loan: The service that obtains materials from other libraries when items are not available in the Library.

Internet: A global electronic network of thousands of communicating computers in smaller interconnected networks.

IP address: IP stands for "Internet Protocol". An IP Address is a four part number used to uniquely identify a particular computer on a network using the TCP/IP (Internet) Protocol. For example, could be an IP address.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number): A four-part, ten-character code given a book (a non-serial literary publication) before publication as a means of identifying it concisely, uniquely, and unambiguously. The four parts of the ISBN are: group identifier (e.g., national, geographic, language, or other convenient group), publisher identifier, title identifier, and check digit. (ALA Glossary)

ISSN (International Standard Serial Number): The international numerical code that identifies concisely, uniquely, and unambiguously a serial publication. (ALA Glossary)

Issue: A single uniquely numbered or dated part of a periodical or newspaper. (ALA Glossary)


Journal: "Journal" usually refers to peer-reviewed scholarly journals written by experts for experts. It is one of the primary methods used by scholars, scientists and other experts to exchange new information.


Keyword: Descriptive word or phrase found in a record in an electronic database that aids in retrieval of documents. In full-text searching, every word in a document becomes a keyword. A thesaurus is often constructed to list acceptable keywords.

Keyword Searching: Keyword searching results in a list of database records that contain all the keywords entered as search terms, according to the logic of the search. A keyword search may be performed in one index, or it may be performed in more than one index combined.


Library of Congress Classification (LCC) System: The system which divides knowledge into subject areas and corresponding call numbers and letters for library materials.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LSCH): A list of subject terms for items in libraries created by the Library of Congress. Most libraries use the LSCH, which makes it easy to find materials on the same subject in different libraries.

Login/Logon: Connection to a computer network.

Logoff/Logout: Disconnection from a computer network.


Magazine: A type of periodical containing popular articles which are usually shorter or less authoritative than journal articles on the same subject.

Manual: A book of rules or guidelines; a handbook.

Manuscript: A handwritten or typed composition, rather than printed. Includes groups of personal papers which have some unifying characteristic and individual documents which have some special importance.

MARC (Machine-readable Cataloging): An international standard format for the arrangement of cataloging information so that it can be stored and retrieved using computer tapes.

Media: Any format for information storage that requires special listening or viewing equipment: i.e. microfilm, microfiche, videotape, CD-ROMs.

Menu: Choices and commands that are displayed on the computer screen and can be selected by the user. Most programs have their menus on the top of the screen, while databases will often have theirs on the left side or bottom of the display.

Microfiche: System of photographically miniaturizing printed material on small rectangular “sheets” of photographic film viewable on special readers.

Microfilm: Miniaturizing process similar to microfiche but reproduced on reels of photographic cellulose film. As with fiche, it requires a special reader.

Monograph: A scholarly book, pamphlet, or article on a specified and usually limited subject. Sometimes used in the sense of a scholarly notification book as opposed to an article in a periodical.

Monographic Series: A monographic series is a set of books that have a number of volumes with a definite end. An encyclopedia is a good example.


Network: An arrangement of computers and files that are electronically connected.

Newsletter: A serial consisting of one or two printed sheets containing news or information of interest chiefly to a special group. (ALA Glossary, p. 153)


OCLC (Online Computer Library Center): A bibliographic network based on an online database of approximately 28 million cataloging records from its 5500 members, including those of Illinois Library since 1975. It now serves more than 18,000 libraries in 52 countries. The OCLC database is used for cataloging, for reference work, and for interlibrary loan. It is the world's largest and most comprehensive database of bibliographic information. URL:

Online: Refers to a computer system that can be continually and/or remotely accessed. The library online catalog and Web-based databases are examples of online resources.

Online Catalog: The publicly searchable computer system that stores the bibliographic records for a library’s materials.

Online Database: Computer databases. Bibliographic databases provide access by author, title, and subject to a group of periodicals, books, or proceedings. Numeric databases provide access to statistical information.

OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog): A computerized catalog of books and other items in the library.

Open Stacks: A library shelving system which allows all users access to the books in the stacks. Users are free to browse the collection and select the books they wish to use without involving library personnel. With the exception of reserves and special collections, the collection of the GUST library is an open stack system, although assistance is available to users with special needs.

Operators: Words such as AND, OR, and NOT that are used to combine search terms to broaden or narrow the results of a search.

Overdue: Material which is not returned to the library by its due date is considered overdue.

Oversize: Books that are too large for normal shelves; usually designated with a Q (quarto) or F (folio) before the call number; stored in a special location.


Patron (Patron information): Library users are often referred to as patrons. Patron information is the contents of your Library account: what you have checked-out, any fines you owe, materials on which you placed a HOLD or RECALL, and materials you have requested from the Library catalog. You can check this information by logging in when you are in the library catalog.

PC (Personal Computer): Generally used to refer to IBM-compatible rather than a Macintoshes, though both are formally considered PCs.

PDF (Portable Document Format): A universal file format that preserve all of the fonts, formatting, colors, pagination, and graphics of the source document.

Peer Review Process: Method used by scholarly journals to assure the quality and relevance of the articles they publish. When an article is submitted, the editor sends copies to several reviewers (or "referees") who are recognized experts in the subject of the article. Each reads the article and offers an opinion on whether it is worthy of publication in the journal, using such criteria as soundness of investigative method, whether the author shows adequate knowledge of research on the subject to date, and whether the articles adds to knowledge in the field. Only if the reviewers agree that it meets the relevant criteria will the article be published.

Peer-reviewed Article: A scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Peer-reviewed Journal: Journal containing scholarly articles which have been reviewed by scholars whose expertise and stature are similar to the author.

Periodical: Publication issued at regular (and relatively frequent) intervals with no specific end date. Examples: magazines, journals, newspapers and newsletters.

Primary Source: Original manuscript, contemporary record, or document used by an author in writing a book or other literary work. Includes letters, diaries, memoirs, contemporary newspaper reporting, archival collections, etc.

Publication: A book, periodical, musical score, etc. that has been "brought before the public"; in other words, a work that has been printed and distributed.


Recall: A function in the Library online catalog, which enables the Library to request an item, currently checked-out to be returned. An automatic message is sent to the current borrower, informing that someone else needs the book. You will be notified when the item is available.

Record: A description of a resource such as a book, journal article, Website, etc. Records are subdivided into specific fields such as author, title and subject.

Reference: Anything that points to some other location for the information it represents.

Refereed Journal: A refereed 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 peer-review process).

Renewal: An extension of the loan period for charged library materials. As long as no one else requests the book, renewals are unlimited. Renewals may be handled in person at a circulation desk, by phone through the Telephone Center (333-8400), by mailing a renewal sheet available from the Main Library Circulation Desk, or by accessing your Borrower Information or " My Account" through the online catalog.

Reprint: A new impression of an edition. A new edition from a new setting of type for which an impression of a previous edition has been used as copy. A separately issued article, chapter, or other portion of a previously published larger work, usually a reproduction of an original, but sometimes made from a new setting of type. (ALA Glossary)

Research Strategy: The methodology or plan followed to find information on a subject or research topic.

Reserve: Reserve section of the Library is where course-associated materials are located, which classroom instructors require or recommend. The collection includes books, articles, CDs, etc. Reserve items circulate for a shorter period of time to allow access to all who need them.


Scholarly (Academic) Journal: Journal containing article with full documentation, identifying sources used and written by scholars whose credentials are identified.

Scope: The content of a work; what information is included and what information is excluded.

Search strategy: Organization of keywords and use of Boolean operators.

Secondary Sources: Books or articles that explain or analyze primary sources. For example, criticism of a literary work.

Serial: Publication issued at regular intervals or in installments. Includes periodicals as well as bulletins, annual reports, and multi- volume work issued in parts.

Series: A group of separate bibliographic items related to one another by the fact that each item bears, in addition to its own title proper, a collective title applying to the group as a whole. The individual items may or may not be numbered. (AACR 2) For example, The Death Penalty is a book in the Opposing Viewpoints series.

Set: A group of related items. When conducting a search in a database, the results of a search form a set.

Server: Computer that provides a service to other computers in a network by sharing its resources, such as programs and/or files with other computers.

Stacks: Rows of shelves where library books and journals are stored.

Stopword: A word which is omitted from the index of a database. Stopwords are very common words (a, a, the, to, for, etc.) that normally add little meaning to the subject content of the document being indexed. Since stopwords are not indexed, they cannot be used as search terms, but will appear when you print documents from the database.

Style Manual: A publication that sets forth the rules for composition, including format and manner of citing sources, to be used in a particular discipline or profession or by a particular publisher.

Subheading: A subdivision of a more general subject heading. For example in the Library of Congress Subject Heading United States--History, History is a subheading of United States.

Subject Heading: A term or phrase used in indexes and library catalogs to describe the content of library materials in a standardized way. For example, Indians of North America is the subject heading used in the online catalog to describe materials about Native Americans. See also thesaurus and keywords.


Table of contents: A list of parts contained within a book or periodical, such as chapter titles and periodical articles, with references by page number or other location symbol to the place they begin and in the sequence in which they appear. (ALA Glossary)

Tertiary Sources: Reference works that identify, point out, summarize, abstract, or repackage the information provided in primary and secondary sources. Examples include dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc. (Oxford Guide to Library Research, 1998)

Thesaurus: A list of all the subject headings or descriptors used in a particular database, catalog, or index. The thesaurus for the online catalog is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. See also controlled vocabulary.

Thesis: The main idea or argument of a paper. A document prepared as a condition for the award of a degree or diploma. For example, a Masters thesis.

Truncation: In database searching, the act of entering and searching for a shortened word, a word stem, or a string of letters, often indicated by adding a symbol (e.g.?, *).


URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The Internet “address” for an electronic document identifying location.


Virtual library: Also known as an “electronic library” or “Library without walls”. Usually means electronic information resources available within the library or remotely accessible but which, do not have physical presence.

Virtual Reality (VR): Electronic environment created by computer software that simulates a three dimensional physical setting.


Withdrawn: Items that are no longer in the library collection.

World Wide Web (or web, www, w3): Portion of the Internet consisting of interconnected, linked documents (Web pages) accessible via Web browsers .(e.g. Internet Explorer, Opera).


Yearbook: An annual compendium of facts and statistics on aparticular subject for the preceding year.


Z39.50: Prepared by the National Information Standards Organization, Z39.50 is an information retrieval service definition and protocol specification for library applications. The standard defines how one computer system can co-operate with other systems for the purpose of searching databases and retrieving records.