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Glossary of Library Terms


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Abstract- a brief summary of a book, chapter or article.

Audiovisual (AV)- information in a non-print format. Includes films, videos, slides, audio tapes, CDs, records, software, etc.

Bibliography- a list of sources such as books, articles or Web sites used for a report or research paper. It can also be a list of recommended works on a topic.

Call Number- A unique combination of letters and numbers assigned to each book in the library. Call numbers serve two main functions: they tell you the general subject that the item covers and they act as an address that tells you where to find an item on the shelf.

Carrel- a small individual desk with partitions on three sides to minimize noise and distraction.

Catalog- a compilation of records describing the contents of a particular library collection or group of collections. A library catalog contains records of items such as books, periodicals, videos, audio tapes, and CD-ROMs. More and more catalogs are including records for Web sites and other e-resources that complement and enhance the library's collection.

Citation- information that indicates exactly how to find a book, periodical article, Web site or other information. The citation provides author, title, publisher and date; in the case of chapters and periodical articles it also includes page numbers.

Database- an electronic collection of records containing either full-text documents, citations, or abstracts of articles.

ERIC- the largest education collection in the world, containing more than 1 million records of journal articles, research reports, curriculum and teaching guides, conference papers, and books.

Full-Text- this term signifies that the complete article is available in a database for immediate reading and printing. A full-text article may not always include all of the graphic materials printed with the original print article.

General Collection- located on the upper level of the Library, the General Collection consists of all of the materials, both print and non-print that may be checked out.

Group Study Rooms- small, private rooms reserved for the use of groups of two or more people who need a place to work together on projects without disturbing others.

HRAF-Human Relations Area File - The HRAF Collection of Ethnography contains nearly one million pages of information on more than 365 cultures of the world, past and present. Each culture file contains a variety of source documents (books, articles, and manuscripts) that have been indexed and organized according to HRAF's comprehensive culture and subject classification system. The HRAF collection is used primarily by Anthropology students.

Information Literacy- the skill of finding, evaluating, and using information efficiently.

Interlibrary Loan- a service provided in cooperation with local, national, and international libraries to exchange materials (usually books and articles that C.O.D.'s Library does not own) for a brief period of time.

Journal- a periodical written for experts in a subject area. Articles are usually signed, lengthy, written in a scholarly style and often include a bibliography. Journals are often published by academic or association presses and peer-reviewed by a board of experts.

Keyword- any word that appears anywhere in the text of a record.

Library of Congress Classification- a classification system used by most college and university libraries in the United States. It organizes materials into 21 branches of knowledge. Library of Congress (LC) call numbers always start with letters of the alphabet followed by a combination of numbers and letters.

Magazine- a periodical written for a general reader. Articles are usually shorter and less scholarly than articles in journals.

Microfiche- a 5 x 8 sheet of film with photographically reduced images.

Microfilm- 35mm film with photographically reduced images.

Microform- a format for storing photographically reduced images onto film. Microfiche and microfilm are two types of microform. A microform reader/printer is required to read or copy information from microforms.

Newspaper- a periodical issued at frequent intervals (daily, weekly, semi-weekly) containing news, editorials, advertisements and other articles of current interest.

Periodical- a publication that is issued on an ongoing basis and on a consistent schedule. Usually contains articles written by various authors.

Periodical Index- used to help locate information on a topic or subject. Until the 1980s, most periodical indexes were printed. Print indexes are usually organized alphabetically by subject. Most periodical indexes are now available on computer databases and have additional search and retrieval features available.

Primary Source- the original resource that first reported research or ideas. These may include newspapers, interviews, research reports, scholarly journal articles, trade journals, conference proceedings, dissertations, Web sites, diaries, letters, etc.

Quiet Study Area- a designated place in the library where people can go to study quietly without being disturbed by printers, cell phones, or the conversation of others. Library monitors patrol the quiet area to ensure that there is compliance.

Reference Center- the round desk located in the center of the lower level of the library. A Reference Librarian and Reference Assistants are always on duty to assist in the identification, location, and use of Library materials and to discuss individual reference or research problems and suggest appropriate resources.

Reference Collection- books and other materials that provide definitions, quick facts, statistics, and overviews on a topic. Reference books are usually consulted rather than read through and are generally not permitted to be checked out.

Reference Librarian- the person responsible for assisting patrons in finding information and resources in the library. A Reference Librarian often specializes in a certain subject area but is also familiar with general information resources and how to use them.

Reserves- books or other materials that are kept at the Circulation Desk at the request of an instructor, in order to assure greater availability to an entire class. There are usually time limitations indicating the length of time an item can be checked out to a student.

Secondary Source- resources that analyze, describe, and synthesize the original or primary source. These include review articles, reference books such as encyclopedias, and textbooks.

Subject Heading- an agreed upon word/phrase (also referred to as controlled vocabulary) to describe and define a concept or thing. Library catalogs, indexes and electronic databases all make use of controlled vocabulary to provide consistent access to books, articles and other material. Subject headings can be words or phrases under which all material dealing with that area is entered in an index or library catalog. To conduct a successful and efficient subject search in the library's catalog or in an article database, it is necessary to know the predefined subject heading.

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