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Glossary of Library Terms

The following terms apply specifically to Lovejoy Library's collection and services. For a more comprehensive list of library-related terms and definitions, consult Western Connecticut State University's Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science at

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  • Abstract
    (1) Source that lists articles and other materials (e.g. a periodical article or a book) by subject, author, or title and gives a brief summary of the work.
    (2) Short summary of an article in a scholarly journal that appears at the beginning of the article.

  • Almanac
    Annual publication that contains useful data and statistics relating to calendars, countries, personalities, events, subjects, or other miscellaneous information.

  • Annual
    Materials that are published once a year.

  • Anthology
    (1) Collection of extracts from the works of various authors, usually in the same genre or about the same subject.
    (2) Sometimes refers to a collection from the works of an individual author.

  • Archives
    (1) Public records or historical documents.
    (2) Location where records or documents are housed.

  • Article
    Written essay or report on a subject usually located in magazines, journals, newspapers, and encyclopedias.

  • Atlas
    Volume of maps, plates, engravings, tables, etc.

  • Audio-Visual
    Information in any form other than words printed on paper. Examples include films, slides, audiotapes, compact discs, videocassettes, and computer software.

  • Autobiography
    Account of one's life, composed by one's self.
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  • Bibliography
    Systematically arranged list of books, articles, documents, or other materials related to a particular author or a specific subject that may include some of the following information: author, title, date of publication, place of publication, publisher, details of edition, and page numbers.

  • Bindery
    Area in the Library or at a remote location where books or periodicals (magazines or journals) are temporarily sent for repair or to be bound. When materials are at the bindery, it may be necessary to submit an Interlibrary Loan request to get a copy from another library.

  • Biography
    Source that provides a written account of a person's life or a group of literature concerned with people's lives.

  • Boolean Operators
    Words such as AND, OR, and NOT that are used to combine terms to broaden or narrow the results of a search. Combining terms using these operators is often referred to as Boolean searching.

  • Bound Periodical
    Issues of a journal or magazine that are gathered and bound within a hard cover to resemble a book. At Lovejoy Library, all bound volumes are located on the second floor and shelved in alphabetical order by the title.
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  • Call Number
    Number given to each book acquired by the Library. Every book has letters and/or numbers assigned to place it in a specific location (subject area) within the collection. Books in Lovejoy Library are given call numbers according to the Library of Congress Classification System. Government Documents are given Superintendent of Documents call numbers (see SuDocs). Some materials are simply given media-related accession numbers.

  • Circulate
    Process of allowing materials to be checked out of the Library. For more information, please consult Lovejoy Library's Circulation Policies.

  • Circulation Desk
    Service area in the Library where users check out books and other materials, return or renew items, or inquire about fees assessed to items when materials are not returned by the due date.

  • Citation
    Reference or footnote about an item such as a book or journal article. A citation for a book includes the author, title, publisher, place of publication, and date of publication. A citation for an article in a journal includes the author, title of article, title of periodical (also referred to as the source), volume and issue number, page number(s), and date of publication. A single citation is called a reference; a group of citations is a bibliography. For more information about types of citations, consult the "Understanding and Interpreting Citations" research guide.

  • Controlled Vocabulary
    Standardized words that may be used to search an index, abstract, or database. Many reference sources have a listing or thesaurus of preferred terms. An example of controlled vocabulary is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. (See also Thesaurus)

  • Copyright
    Legal right to control the production, use, and sale of copies of a literary, musical, or artistic work in any tangible format.

  • Cross Reference
    Term used in catalogs, thesauruses, and indexes to lead users from one form of entry to another (e.g. American poets see Poets--American).

  • Current Periodical
    Latest or most recent issue of a journal or magazines that has not been bound or obtained on microform. Current periodicals are located in the red boxes on the second floor near the bound periodicals. Some of the most frequently used current periodicals are located on Reserve at the Circulation Desk. Many current periodicals are also available in electronic formats through the Library's website at

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  • Database
    Collection of information arranged into individual records to be searched by a computer.

  • Descriptor
    Term or symbol used to designate the subject of a work. Descriptors are generally used when searching electronic indexes.

  • Downloading
    Transferring electronic information to a floppy disk or hard drive.

  • Due Date
    Date that borrowed materials must be returned to the Library.
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  • Encyclopedia
    Compilation of articles on subjects in many areas of study or in a specialized field. Encyclopedias may be in print or electronic formats.

  • Fiche
    Abbreviated term for microfiche. (See Microfiche)

  • Film
    Abbreviated term for microfilm. (See Microfilm)

  • Fine
    Fee charged for an item returned to the Library after the due date. The amount of the fine varies depending on the source. For more information on fines, consult the Library's Circulation Policies.

  • Folio (Oversize)
    Book that is too large to fit in the general collection shelves and therefore is placed in a designated area marked "Oversized" or "Folio" Collection. These books are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers.

  • Full Text
    Many of the online databases available at Lovejoy Library provide the complete text of articles. Some full text articles may not include graphics or photographs included in the print articles.

  • Full-Page Image
    Many online databases include full images of articles. A software application such as Acrobat Reader may be required to view these images. All graphics or pictures associated with the article are included and even the original pagination remains the same.
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  • Handbooks
    General information sources that provide a quick reference to a given subject. Handbooks may be general or subject specific.

  • Hold
    Status applied to an item being held at the Circulation Desk. A valid borrower may request that a circulating book or other material be held upon its return to the Library. The patron will be notified when the material becomes available.

  • Holdings
    Materials owned or held by the Library.
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  • I-Share (OPAC)
    Online public access catalog or database that is used to identify and locate materials in the libraries and is searchable by author, title, subject, or keyword. I-Share includes the 65 academic libraries in Illinois. The SIUE Online Catalog is a subset of I-Share.

  • Index
    List of subjects discussed in a book. List of journal articles arranged by subject.

  • Information Desk
    Primary service point in the Library where users can ask questions and consult with Library personnel about locating resources or conducting research.

  • Interlibrary Loan (sometimes referred to as ILL)
    Service through which one library lends a resource or provides a photocopy of material from its collection to another library for registered students.

  • Issue
    Single uniquely numbered or dated part of a periodical or newspaper.
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  • Journal
    Type of periodical containing scholarly articles that describe research in a particular profession or academic discipline. Articles are based upon research and usually have extensive references. For more information about various types of periodicals, consult the "Identifying Scholarly Journals" research guide.

  • Keyword
    Word or combination of words from the author, title, or subject field of an item. Keyword searching is usually available in online databases and catalogs.
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  • Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
    List of standard terms created by the Library of Congress that are used to locate resources on a specific topic. Volumes of the LCSH are kept near the Information Desk at Lovejoy Library.

  • Location
    Physical place where an item is housed in the Library. In I-Share, the location is described by the call number. To determine where in the library items are located at Lovejoy Library, consult the Material Location Guide.

  • Loan Period
    Length of time allowed for the use of material borrowed from the Library. The time varies depending on the type of material and borrowing privileges. For more information, consult the Library's Circulation Policies.
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  • Magazine
    Type of periodical containing popular articles which are usually shorter or less authoritative than a journal article on the same subject. Magazine articles usually do not contain references or bibliographies. For more information about various types of periodicals, consult the "Identifying Scholarly Journals" research guide.

  • Menu
    Choices and commands that are displayed on screen and can be selected by the user when searching a database.

  • Microfiche
    Photographic format of reduced images that is reproduced on a small
    4" x 6" flat sheet of film. The microfiche collection at Lovejoy Library is housed in the Microforms Area on the second floor.

  • Microfilm
    Photographic format of reduced images that is reproduced on a roll of 35mm or 16mm film. Past issues of newspapers are often microfilmed because newsprint deteriorates rapidly. The microfilm collection at Lovejoy Library is housed in the Microforms Area on the second floor.

  • Microforms
    Generic term that refers to the medium, either microfiche or microfilm. Area where microfiche and microfilm are housed. In Lovejoy Library, the Microforms Area is located on the second floor. This area provides several reader/printers to read and/or copy documents from either fiche or film. A Vendacard is required for printing at the cost of $.08 per page. The Library also offers a custom copying service in this area.
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  • Non-Circulating
    Materials that must be used in the Library (e.g. reference books, periodicals, and other resources designated "Building Use Only").

  • Online Database
    Electronic index containing citations, abstracts, or full text documents or other images. Lovejoy Library has access to a large number of general and subject-specific online databases.

  • OPAC
    Abbreviated term for the Online Public Access Catalog. (see I-Share)

  • Periodical
    Magazine, journal, or newspaper published at regular intervals. For more information about various types of periodicals, consult the "Identifying Scholarly Journals" research guide.

  • Primary Source
    Fundamental or original document relating to a particular subject, experiment, time period, or event. Autobiographies, journals, diaries, and creative works are considered primary sources.
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  • Recall
    Process by which an item that has been checked out may be requested by another person. The current borrower will be notified, and must return it by the Recall date. No renewals are then possible, ensuring that the user placing the request will be next to receive the material.

  • Record
    Unit of information in a computer database identifying a specific item. A record may include data such as author, title, date of publication, publisher, and subject headings.

  • Refereed Journal
    Publication, usually scholarly, in which articles are reviewed by a panel of professionals in the respective field before being accepted for publication. For more information about various types of periodicals, consult the "Identifying Scholarly Journals" research guide.

  • Reference Books
    Materials created specifically to help people find information or do research. Reference collections contain many sources of information, such as atlases, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, handbooks, and indexes that contain facts, statistics, biographical or other sources that aid in answering reference questions. Reference books generally do not leave the Library.

  • Renew
    Extension of the loan period for a charged library item. If no one has requested the item, renewals are possible. Renewals for SIUE Library materials may be handled in person at the Circulation Desk, by phone at 650-2172, or by accessing your borrower information using the "My Account" option in I-Share.

  • Research
    Thorough inquiry and investigation into a subject. This includes using appropriate print and electronic sources, asking the Library staff for assistance, and making use of bibliographies.

  • Research Process
    During this process, a person selects a topic, formulates questions relevant to the topic, considers all potentially useful sources, selects works appropriate for their research need, locates information, and evaluates the information found.

  • Reserves
    Controlled-access collection containing materials that faculty have indicated students should use in addition to the required texts for a class. Reserves materials may include study aids (class notes, answers to quizzes, etc.) or required reading material for a class (books and articles). Some Reserves material is available in electronic format and may be accessed through the Library's online catalog. Lovejoy Library's Reserves Department is located in the Circulation area. Music Reserves are located in the Music Listening Room.
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  • Scholarly Journal
    Journals that contain articles written by and for experts in a particular field of study. For more information about various types of periodicals, consult the "Identifying Scholarly Journals" research guide.

  • Scope
    Information that is included or excluded in a particular work. The focus of a certain work.

  • Search
    To locate information contained in a database by entering words or numbers in a search box. To locate a specific item within the Library's Collection. Process by which the Library's circulation staff look in various areas of the Library for a missing item and hold it for the person requesting the search. Searches are initiated at the Information Desk by completing the Search Form.

  • Search Strategy
    Systematic method or plan used to find the most relevant information on a subject or research topic.

  • Secondary Source
    Any material, other than the original document, used in the preparation of a written work. Secondary sources include criticisms, reviews, or other resources based on a primary source.

  • Serial
    Any publication issued at intervals or in parts, bearing numerical or chronological order that is intended to be continued indefinitely (e.g. periodicals, yearbooks, annuals, etc.).

  • Stacks
    Rows of shelves where books or journals are held. At Lovejoy Library, this refers to materials that circulate from the general collection.

  • Storage
    Facility where infrequently used materials are kept to free up space in the main Library. Items that are in storage are cataloged in I-Share. Users may request retrieval of storage materials at the Circulation Desk or by completing the Storage Request form on the Library's web page. Retrieval request for items from storage are filled within 24 hours.

  • SuDocs
    Abbreviated term for the Superintendent of Documents. Call number system used to classify government documents.

  • Subject Heading
    Terms used in a database to access books or articles about a particular subject. In some databases, subject headings are referred to as descriptors.
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  • Thesaurus
    List of entries outlining the relationship of a subject heading to other related subjects in a catalog, database, or index.

  • Truncation
    Symbol used to represent all possible endings of a search term. Frequently used truncation symbols include the asterisk (*), the pound sign (#), or the question mark (?).

  • URL
    Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, a unique location or address of a resource located on the World Wide Web. A URL is similar to a call number for library materials.

  • Vendacard
    Small plastic card that can be purchased and used in the Library's photocopiers and printers. Copies made using this card are less expensive (at the cost of $.08 per page) than using cash (at the cost of $.10 per page). Vendacards can also be used in other locations throughout campus.

  • Withdrawn
    Term used to describe an item that has been removed from the Library's collection.

  • Yearbook
    Annual publication of facts and statistics on a particular subject for the preceding year.
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  • For additional assistance contact Lydia Jackson, Instruction Librarian ( or 618-650-2604) or the Information Desk (618-650-INFO).

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