Glossary of Library Terms

Abstract - A brief summary of the essential points of an article or book.

Almanac - Annual publication often containing statistics and data from the previous year.

Archives - A collection of papers, records, and other historical materials preserved for research.

Atlas - A book of maps.

Bibliography - A list of books, articles, and other material on a particular topic.

Boolean Logic - A method of combining terms in online database searching in order to narrow or expand a search, using Boolean operators:AND, OR, NOT.

Bound Periodical - Multiple issues of a periodical or magazine bound together between a hard cover.

Check Out - Borrowing materials from the library.

Call Number - The unique set of letters and numbers assigned to an item to indicate its subject area and precise location. Call numbers are based on either the Library of Congress, or Government Documents classification schemes.

Circulation - The lending of library materials. Items are "checked out"at the Circulation or Check-Out desk.

Citation - The standardized information which fully describes a publication. Citations include the author, title, publisher, date, and page length.

Classification Scheme - A scheme that groups materials of similar subject by call number. STL uses the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme, which is composed of twenty major subject classes.

Compact Shelving - Moveable storage units where bound periodicals are stored in this library.

Controlled Vocabulary - Standardized language developed by a particular database for computer searching. Examples include Descriptors and Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Current Periodicals - shelving area where the latest issues of magazine, journals, and other periodicals are kept.

Database - A collection of information arranged into individual records to be searched by computer. There are databases for book collections, periodical citations, full-text articles, and newspaper articles.

Descriptor - The word or words used by an index or database to describe a particular topic.

Depository Library - A library which is legally designated to receive copies of all or selected government documents. STL is a selective depository for both federal and New York state documents.

Field - Individual parts of a database which can be searched. Some of the most common fields which can be searched in online catalogs are author, title, subject heading, and call number. In an onlne database, fields include journal title, article title, abstract, subject (descriptor), and others.

Full-Text - Electronic information which includes the text of the item.

Government Document - Any publication printed with the authority of a government. STL receives many federal and New York state documents.

Holdings - Items owned by the library, specifically the years the library has subscribed to a particular journal, periodical, or other serial publication.

1. An alphabetical list of topics &page numbers found in the back of a book. 
2. In an electronic database, an alphabetical list of topics, authors, or titles
3. An alphabetical list in a reference book that covers author, title, and/or subject.

Interlibrary Loan - Library service which provides for the borrowing of library materials not found at our institution. At this library it is called ILLIAD

Journal - A periodical issued by an institution or learned society. Considered to be more scholarly than a magazine.

Keyword Searching - Using a natural language approach to search a database, rather than a controlled vocabulary. 

Magazine - A periodical aimed at the popular culture. Not considered to be of research quality.

Microform - A general term designating several types of photographic reproductions (microfilm, microfiche, microcard) which are reduced in size and require magnification to be viewed. Microforms may be read and copied on machines known as reader-printers.

Monograph - another name for a book

Online Catalog - A library catalog on computer that replaces the card catalog. Provides information about all library materials, including books, journals, government documents, pamphlets, and reserves. Sometimes referred to as OPAC

Oversize - a book that is too large to fit a standard shelf. In our library it has an OVR designation

Pamphlet File - A collection of pamphlets and clippings on subjects of topical interest.

Periodical - Publications which are issued at least twice a year, including journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Periodical Index - A listing of periodical articles grouped by author or subject. Indexes usually focus on a particular subject, and are available in both print and electronic formats.

Primary Source - an original document with firsthand information about a topic. These include letters, documents, artifacts, and journals.

Range - A section of bookshelves.

Reference - The section of the library where librarians assist users in locating information and using library resources.

Reference Books - A book meant to be used for specific pieces of information, rather than to be read as a whole. Examples include almanacs, bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, glossaries and indexes. Reference books do not circulate.

Reserves - Reading material that is assigned by instructors and whose circulation is restricted. If the material is a journal article, it will be on electronic reserves (ERes). Entire books or journals must be placed on traditional Reserve (See Reserve List in the online catalog).

Secondary Source - Works that interpret or comment on a Primary Source, such as journal articles and books.

Serial - A publication issued periodically which intends to continue indefinitely.

Serials Solutions - Software that allows you to search journal titles to which the library either has a print subscription or electronic access via a database. Use Serials Solutions to search for the full text of your citations.

Stacks - The shelves on which most of the library's books and bound periodicals are arranged by call number.

Subject Heading - The word or words used by an index or database to describe a particular subject. The library's online catalog is based on the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Subject Thesaurus - A list of all the subject headings or descriptors used by a particular database or index.

Truncation - in computer searching, to use a symbol with a word stem to capture all forms of the word. These symbols vary slightly from database to database. May be an * or ! or ?. In our online catalog, use comput? to get results that include computer, computerized, computers, computing, computation.