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School for Professional Studies: Library Glossary A-Z

This Guide was created specifically for students enrolled in the School for Professional Studies (SPS) at Centenary University.

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An A-Z glossary of library related words and phrases. Librarians often use terminology specific to the world of books, research, printing, and publishing. We understand that these terms can be confusing to those unfamiliar with how libraries work!

Abstract- A short, objective summary describing the main idea or content of an article or book.

Annotation- A critical or subjective evaluation describing an article or book, usually included in a bibliography.

Archives- An organized collection of documents, items, and other ephemera preserved and maintained as a historical record. Centenary’s Archives is located on the ground floor of Taylor Memorial Library.

Article- A brief paper or composition on a particular subject or study, usually appearing in a magazine or journal. 

Bibliographic Record (BibRecord)- A record that describes an item in the collection and provides crucial citation information: call number, author, title, publication information, paging, subject headings, etc.

Bibliography- A list of citations that appears at the end of a paper, article, chapter or book. 

Boolean Operator- Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) are used to construct more complex searches in a database. They help make a search more accurate by narrowing or broadening the search.

Call Number- A combination of letters and numbers that is given to each item held in the library that describe its subject matter and serves as its address on the shelf. Taylor Memorial Library uses the Library of Congress Classification system to assign call numbers.

Catalog- A compilation of records describing the contents of a particular collection or group of collections.

Circulation Desk- The place to check out, return, or renew library materials or ask a librarian a question.

Citation- A reference to a work such as a book or a journal article that provide the author, title, publication place, and year of a work. Their main purpose is to make it easy for readers to locate sources used in the work.

Database- A database is an organized collection of records describing articles in periodicals or journals. An electronic database can be searched by using a browser.

Electronic Journal- A scholarly publication that is made accessible in a computerized format and distributed online. Often times an electronic journal is also available in print.

Encyclopedia- A general or subject specific reference source containing information on a variety of topics that may be supplied in short paragraphs or in lengthy.

Full text- A full text database is a resource that provides access to the complete text of an item often as a searchable PDF file that can be either read directly on your device or downloaded and printed.

Index- A guide to the contents of a book or other piece of work usually arranged by subject, author or keyword. They can come in both paper and electronic form and are usually found at the end of the work.

Interlibrary Loan- The sharing of materials among different libraries. You can obtain whole books or photocopies of journal articles for individual scholarly research by filling out an interlibrary loan request form.

Journal- A work that contains articles written by various peer-reviewed articles written by scholars and comes out on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, annually) and contain articles written by various authors.

Keyword Searching- A keyword search directs the computer to look for a word or a combination of words from the author, title, or subject fields in a record.

Library of Congress Classification- A classification system developed by the Library of Congress (LC) that is used to organize the collections of many academic and research libraries.

Magazine- A work that contains often popular articles written by various authors, often journalists, and come out on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, annually).

Peer-reviewed Article- An article that has been read and reviewed by other scholars and experts in the field before publication.

Plagiarism- Falsely taking credit for the words or ideas of others. Avoid plagiarism by correctly citing sources and including bibliographies in your work.

Popular Source- Journals or articles written to entertain or inform the general public. Some examples of popular magazines include Time, Newsweek, and People Weekly.

Primary Source- Original works manuscripts, letters, diaries, documents, books, films, posters, play scripts, speeches, songs, sheet music, photographs, drawings, and first-person accounts that are created at the time an event occurred. Primary sources can be found in the College Archives.

Scholarly Article- An article that has been peer-reviewed.

Search Strategy- A systematic process used to find the most relevant information on a topic. This process involves planning, considering useful reference sources, locating information, and evaluating that information.

Secondary Source- Works that are not original records or documents associated with an event.

Stacks- The stacks refer to the space in a library where the majority of books are shelved. The main stacks can be found in the Quiet Area of Taylor Memorial Library.

Subject Headings- Words or phrases assigned to books and articles that are used to organize them by topic.

Truncation- Truncation is a symbol put at the end or in the middle of a word in order to catch all variant endings or spellings of that word when searching a database. Example: educat* will search for the terms education, educating, and educate.