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Library Terminology

A

  • Abstract
    1. A brief non-evaluative summary of a journal article, book, or other information source.
    2. An index to journal articles that gives a brief summary of the article along with the citation.
  • Academic Journal
    Journal containing articles in a specific field, including full identification of sources used and credentials of the writer / scholar. Example: Social Science and Medicine.
  • Access Privilege
    Privilege that enables a researcher to access a library’s resources, but ONLY within the library. A researcher who has access privileges ONLY cannot check out books.
  • Acquisitions
    The department in the Library that is responsible for ordering and paying for library materials.
  • Almanac
    A publication, usually published annually, that contains useful facts and statistical information. Examples: Louisiana Almanac, Plunkett’s Automobile Industry Almanac.
  • Annotation
    A brief subjective or evaluative summary of an article, located usually after bibliographic information in books and databases. Often annotations are designed to assist researchers using a bibliography or database results list in discriminating between similar bibliographic entries and in determing the usefulness of an article.
  • Annual
    A resource that is published once a year.
  • Archives
    Public or private records or historical documents that are usually local in nature, or the department or facility where these documents are processed, stored, and made available for use.
  • Article
    A published essay or report on a subject. It appears in magazines, journals, newspapers, and other sources.
  • Ask a Librarian
    An online reference service that allows users to e-mail questions and receive answers. Nicholls provides this service to its users from the library’s main page.
  • Audiovisual Material
    Information presented in a format other than the printed text. These include, but are not limited to, films, videotapes, CD’s, and slides.
  • Author
    The original writer or group of writers responsible for a book or an article. When searching the online catalog, users should remember that the authors of any given text may also be organizations, institutions, conferences, or symposiums.

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B

  • Barcode
    Appears on most library materials and on all the Library Cards of borrowers. It is used to uniquely identify library materials when they are checked in and out, and to uniquely identify patrons.
  • Bi-Annual
    An item that is published once every two years.
  • Bi-Monthly
    An item that is published six times a year.
  • Bi-Weekly
    An item that is published twice in a month.
  • Bibliographic Record / Bib Record
    Standardized information that describes the bibliographic information of an item in a library collection. It includes, but is not limited to, call number, author, title, publication information, physical description, and standardized subject headings.
  • Bibliography
    A list of bibliographic citations included at the end of a book, article, chapter, presentation, report, or dissertation. A bibliography can also be an entire book of nothing but citations on a particular topic or author. An annotated bibliography includes summarizes of the sources being listed.
  • Bind / Binding
    1. The process of producing a single, hard covered volume (book) from separate, sequential issues of periodicals. Issues and volumes of periodicals are usually bound annually.
    2. The process of repairing a book when the spine has become stressed.
  • Bindery
    A company to which books with flimsy covers, items needing repair, and the loose issues of periodicals are sent, so that it may bind and label them. Items are generally not available for the 1-3 weeks they are listed as being at the bindery.
  • Biography
    A written account of a person’s life, which can be book or article length. Biographical sources either contain the information itself, or help to locate it.
  • Boolean Searching
    Using the words AND, OR, NOT to link search terms in a database. Booleans are used to construct complex searches in online databases to produce more precise results. Example: Database=Academic Search Premier, Search Terms=Howard Dean AND Iowa AND speech
  • Borrowing Privilege
    Adds to a researcher’s access privilege the permission to check out circulating library items. See also Access Privilege.
  • Bound Periodical(s)
    A single bound volume (book) composed of consecutive issues of a magazine or journal. In the Ellender Memorial Library, bound periodicals are shelved on the 3rd floor, in a different location than the recent issues of magazines or journals.
  • Browser
    A software program that supports point and click access to the World Wide Web and the Internet. Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are currently the most widely used browsers.
  • Byte
    A unit of digital data consisting of 8 bits and equivalent to a letter of the alphabet, a numeral, or another character.

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C

  • CD-ROM
    Abbreviation that stands for Compact Disk-Read Only Memory. A technology that makes use of a thin disk only 12cm. in diameter, but which holds thousands of pages of information. In a library, the term CD-ROM also may refer to indexes that contain abstracts, statistics, directories, etc., and are available in CD-ROM format.
  • Call number
    A unique identifying number (a combination of numbers and letters) assigned in cataloging to each book acquired by a library. It gives the physical “address” of materials on library shelves. Call numbers serve to group books according to subject. There are three different call number styles used in libraries: Library of Congress (LC), Dewey, and Local. Ellender Memorial Library uses Dewey call numbers.
  • Carrel
    Private study room in the library which can be assigned to faculty for the semester or longer. At some universities, graduate students are also eligible for carrel assignments.
  • Cataloging
    The process of creating a bibliographic record for each library item so that it may be accessed in various ways, such as by author, title, standardized subject headings, or keywords. During the cataloging process, an appropriate call number is assigned to an item so that it may be shelved with similar items.
  • Check-in
    To returned borrowed items.
  • Check-out
    To borrow library materials for a certain period of time. The patron presents the material and a student ID or library card to the Circulation Desk for lending.
  • Circulation
    The borrowing and returning of books, and the department which is responsible for check-out, check-in, and inventory. Most books circulate, but reference books and periodicals do not. The loan period at Nicholls is three weeks for most users (students), and semester-long for faculty and staff. However, if someone else needs a checked-out book, it may be recalled by the library.
  • Circulation Desk
    A place where users check-out, renew, place holds on, and inquire about the status of library materials. There is one circulation desk at Nicholls, which is the Main Circulation Desk located on the 2nd floor of Ellender Memorial Library.
  • Citation
    May also be called a reference. The basic information needed to find specific materials. For books, this information usually includes the author, title, place of publication, publisher, and date. For articles, a citation includes author, title of article, name of the journal or book in which the article appears, date, volume / issue number, and page numbers.
  • Classification System
    A scheme for organizing material by subject matter, using a system of letters and / or numbers. Most libraries use either the Dewey Decimal System or Library of Congress subject headings to organize their materials. Ellender Memorial Library uses Dewey.
  • Collection
    The entire holdings of a library. Also can refer to holdings of items on a particular subject.
  • Copy Number
    A number assigned to each item (rather than each title, which is what a bibliographic record refers to) to identify a specific volume or additional copy, if multiple copies of a title are held.
  • Courtesy Card
    A borrower privilege card which can be purchased for a nominal fee from the Circulation Desk, and which will allow patrons unaffiliated with Nicholls (i.e., people are are neither students, faculty, nor staff) to have check-out privileges from Ellender Memorial Library.
  • Cross Reference
    When variant forms of a personal name, or a place name, or a series or uniform title exists, a cross reference will lead the researcher to the standardized or authoritative version of the name or title. Cross references also exist between subject headings in the form od see and see also links.
  • Current Periodical(s)
    Are the latest or most recent issues of journals and magazines that the Library receives. Also refers to the area where these recent serials are kept, which is usually at a different location than bound periodicals.
  • Cutter Number
    Is the second line of a call number. It is made up of a combination of letters and numbers which differentiate books classified with the same Dewey Classification number. It allows these books to be arranged alphabetically by author.

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D

  • Database
    A large collection of data, organized especially for rapid search and retrieval commands by computer.
  • Default
    A selection automatically used by a computer program, in the absence of a choice made by the user. For example, in the Ellender Memorial Library, computers are set to a default printer so that students do not have to set printer options when they print.
  • Dewey Classification System
    The Dewey Classification Classification schedules divide all knowledge into ten broad categories: 000-Computer Science, Information and General Works; 100-Philosophy and Psychology; 200-Religion; 300-Social Sciences; 400-Language; 500-Science; 600-Technology; 700-Arts and Recreation; 800-Literature; 900-History and Geography. Each of these broad classes have 10 related divisions which are further divided-and then further divided with each division becoming more specific. By use of the decimal, numbers become even more specific. Therefore, the longer the number, the more specific the information found therein. This scheme allows all books in a library’s collection on a specific subject to be shelved together in one spot with related books appearing before and after.
  • Due Date
    The date by which checked-out items must be returned to the library so that the borrower does not incur a fine. The due date is stamped at the back of the item.
  • DVD-ROM (Digital Video Disk–Read-only Memory)
    A 4 ½ inch disk which can store several gigabytes of information.

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E

  • E-book (E-text)
    A book which is available online and must be read at the computer, or printed from the computer. Much of Ellender Memorial’s collection is available as e-text through a vendor called Net Library. Students, faculty, and staff are allowed to set up free accounts with Net Library by assigning themselves user names and passwords. After accounts are set up, they can be used at any time to access an e-book.
  • Edition
    All copies of a title issued by the same publisher.
  • e-Library
    A database of records describing the materials Ellender Memorial Library owns, along with records containing patron information, as well as the software used to access those records. (Previously called iLink.)

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F

  • Federal Documents
    Any publication authorized by, paid for, or partially paid for with federal funds and intended for public use. The Government Printing Office in Washington DC distributes these documents, on a weekly basis, to depository libraries across the country. These informational items are available to the public at no charge.
  • Field
    A subdivision of a bibliographic record, more specifically called a MARC Record. Fields include author, title, subject, local notes, etc. Online Public Access Catalog software uses these fields when searching.
  • Fine
    Money that is owed by a borrower when library items are not returned on time.
  • Full-text electronic database
    Database containing the entire content of an article, including abstract and citation (usually). This is often indicated by a symbol, such as FT and LFT in the Nicholls Electronic Research Database list.

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G

  • GB (gigabyte)
    A billion bytes or a thousand megabytes.
  • Government Document
    1. A type of publication produced by any government agency. The Ellender Memorial Library keeps both its U.S. government documents and Louisiana government documents on the Third Floor, although more and more government publications are accessible via the World Wide Web.

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H

  • Hit
    Successful “match” resulting from a database search or a searh on the World Wide Web.
  • Hold (on hold)
    A function in the Online Catalog which enables patrons to request that an item which is currently checked out be kept for him / her at the Circulation Desk rather than being reshelved once it is returned to the library. The patron is then notified when the item is available. NOTE: A message will not be sent to the current borrower, but that person will not be able to renew the item.
  • Holdings
    1. All materials owned by a library. The holdings portion of the catalog record for any given title will tell how many copies the library owns, as well as which volumes of a journal or magazine are in the library’s collection.
  • http (hypertext transfer protocol)
    The World Wide Web delivery mechanism used to find and retrieve a particular web page. Or more simply stated, the first part of any website address.
  • Hyperlink, hypertext, hypermedia link
    See Link.

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I

  • Icon
    1. An image or small picture in a database that represents information, such as whether or not a book can be found in Ellender Memorial Library.
    2. On the World Wide Web, an image, which is often linked to a web page, and which represents websites, information on a web page, or programs. Users click on these icons to select an action. Example: a light bulb or question mark icon might be linked to online help.
  • iLink
    Former name for e-Library.
  • ILL (Interlibrary Loan)
    A service of the library that allows users to access books and articles not owned by the library, most likely for free. Also denotes the department which offers this service, which in Ellender Memorial Library, is located on the first floor.
  • Index
    1.A tool, either in print or in database form, which allows researchers to find bibliographic citations, abstracts, or complete text in any given subject.
    2. A list, in alphanumeric order and located in the back of a book, of the topics or items in the document, and which usually references the location(s) where these topics can be found. An index may be limited to a particular field of references, such as an author or subject index.
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
    A service that obtains books, photocopies, microfiche, dissertations, and other materials not owned by the Library form other libraries.
  • International Standard Serial Number
    An internationally accepted code, like a barcode number, which uniquely identifies a serial publication (journal or magazine). It consists of eight digits divided in the middle by a hyphen. Most citations to an article in our databases provide a link which searches iLink for a serial, based on this unique number.
  • Item Records
    Records in our library catalog which contain information such as an item’s location(s), year(s) of publication, and volume(s) owned by the library.
  • Internet Explorer (IE)
    An Internet browser created by Microsoft. IE is easily the most popular browser used to search the web.
  • ISBN
    stands for International Standard Book Number, which is a unique ten-digit number assigned to every printed book. Users can conduct an ISBN search in some databases, as well as in bookseller websites such as amazon.com.
  • ISSN
    stands for International Standard Serial Number, which is a unique eight number assigned to every printed journal and magazine, and even some e-zines.
  • Item Record
    A type of record that represents a unique, physical piece in the library. It consists of information from fixed and variable fields, and the information in these fields are used to describe the item. Circulation information about the item is more specific in the Item Record than in the Bib Record in our catalog.

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J

  • Journal
    1. A periodical that is usually considered more scholarly than a popular magazine. Journal articles usually contain footnotes, bibliographical references (works cited), and the credentials of the writer. Examples: Journal of Clinical Nursing, International Journal of Behavioral Development, and Psychoneuroendocrinology.

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K

  • Keyword
    1. A natural language, descriptive word or phrase found in a bibliographic record or in an entry in an electronic database which aids in the retrieval of documents by “word or phrase” searches. In full-text searching, every word in a document becomes a keyword. For this reason, keyword searching is preferable to subject searching, for subject searches use a controlled vocabulary which the researcher may or may not be privy to. In Ellender Memorial’s iLink catalog, this search is called word or phrase
  • Keyword Searching
    A type of search used when a user does not know the exact title of a book, and / or is unsure of the author or the best subject terms to use. Terms entered as “Keywords” are searched everywhere in a bibliographic record.
  • Kilobyte (KB)
    Approximately one thousand bytes or characters. Text or graphic file size is usually expressed in kilobytes.

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L

  • Library Catalog
    1. The online system (iLINK) containing records for all of the items held by the Ellender Memorial Library. Materials in the catalog are in all formats and even include internet-based resources, such as e-books.
    2. Generally speaking, a database that lists and gives call numbers for books and journals.
  • Library of Congress (LC) Classification System
    Call number system developed by Library of Congress. Every LC call number begins with one to three letters, followed by various combinations of whole numbers, decimal numbers, and / or more letters. These are then followed by the year of publication and sometimes with an abbreviation indicating whether the material is associated with another material as a supplement or summary.
  • Link
    An electronic link connecting two pieces of electronic information, which may be text, graphics, video, or sound. The World Wide Web is based on a system of interactive hyperlinks.
  • Login / Logon
    Connecting to a computer network.
  • Logoff / Logout
    Disconnecting from a computer network.
  • Louisiana Documents
    Any publication authorized by, paid for, or partially paid for with state funds and intended for public use. The State Recorder of Documents distributes these documents, on an annual basis, to depository libraries across the state. These informational items are available to the public at no charge.

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M

  • Magazine
    A periodical that consists of popular articles written for the general reader rather than for scholars in a particular field.
  • Manuscript
    Handwritten or typewritten copies of an author’s work before they are printed.
  • Megabyte (MB)
    A million bytes or characters. Computer random-access memory (RAM) and space requirements for software programs are generally expressed in megabytes.
  • Microfiche
    1. A 4 x 6 inch sheet of film that stores information in a reduced form. This photographically miniaturized printed material can then be read with the use of a special machine, called a Microfiche Reader.
  • Microfilm
    1. A roll of film that stores periodicals or other documents using a miniaturizing process similar to microfiche. The difference is that microfilm is reproduced on reels of photographic cellulose film which can be read with a special machine, called a Microfilm Reader.
  • Microform
    A term to describe reduced images in a format other than the printed page. Microforms require special reader machines in order to be used. Microforms can be microfilm or microfiche.
  • Monograph
    1. A book that is complete (as opposed to a serial or annual) and in one physical piece, and which is usually of a scholarly nature.
  • Monographic Set
    A monograph issued in multiple volumes.

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N

  • Netscape
    Internet browser created by Netscape Communications Corp. Netscape is the second most popular browser for internet searchers.
  • Network
    An arrangement of computers, folders (directories and subdirectories) and files that are electronically connected using network wiring, routers and switches. This allows any number of computers to share information quickly and easily.
  • Non-circulating
    An item that is not allowed to be checked out of the Library, such as books in Ellender Memorial’s Reference Collection, or the periodicals located on the 3rd floor of the library.

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O

  • Offline
    Not connected to a printer, computer network, etc. An offline computer cannot search live websites, nor can it communicate with a printer.
  • Online
    Connected to a computer network, printer, etc.
  • OPAC
    Stands for Online Public Access Catalog. A computerized library catalog accessed via computer terminals or library workstations. The OPAC has replaced the card catalog in almost every university and large public library. Many of these OPACs are web based, which means that they can be accessed and searched from any computer which can connect to the internet.
  • Order Record (On Order)
    A record that identifies items that are have been purchased but not yet cataloged into a library’s collection.
  • Overdue
    A book is considered overdue when the book is not returned on or before the due date at the time indicated at the inside back cover. An item is considered one day overdue when, for example, an item with a March 1, 2004 due date is returned on March 2, 2004.

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P

  • Patron
    1. Another term used for the Library users who have borrowing privileges.
  • Patron Record
    A record that contains information about the registered students, staff, faculty, and the library members who may borrow materials from the Library. Patron information is the contents of a patron’s library account: what he / she has checked out, any fines incurred, and materials on which the user has placed a HOLD or RECALL. Patrons can check this information by logging into My Accountwhen they are in iLink’s Power Search.
  • Periodical(s)
    1. A publication that comes out on a regular schedule, such as a magazine, a journal, a newspaper, an annual publication, etc.).
  • Personal Computer (PC)
    A term generally used to refer to non-laptop IBM-compatibles rather than Macintoshes, though both are really PCs.
  • Portable Document File (PDF)
    A universal file format that preserves all of the fonts, formatting, colors, pagination, and graphics of a source document. PDF files can be read on computers, and retain the original look of the original document(s), including pagination. A researcher MUST have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software (which is free) installed on his / her computer to view or download a PDF file. The big advantage to PDF files is that they can almost always be cited as one would cite a photocopied article or a book.
  • Professional Journal
    Journal published by a professional organization. Example: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), American Archivist, Journal of the American Chemical Society.
  • Pull-down List
    A list of options that appears when a researcher clicks the black on grey down arrow on a web page where he / she has the option of entering data into a box.

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Q

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R

  • Recall
    A function in the OPAC which enables patrons to request an item which is currently checked out. An automatic message is sent to the current borrower who has the item out informing him or her that someone else needs the book.
  • Record
    1. A single document in a database. A search of the iLink catalog will result in a hit list of records.
    2. A description of a resource or item such as a book, journal article, e-book, website, etc. Records are subdivided into fields, such as author, title, and subject.
  • Reference
    1. In the library, the Reference Desk is the place where patrons can get research assistance from experts in searching iLink and the library’s databases.
    2. A section of the library which contains books that are intended to be consulted for specific information, rather than read from cover to cover. Books in the Reference Section are typically non-circulating.
  • Reference Books(s)
    Books such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, almanacs and indexes that provide factual information, and / or lead to other information resources.
  • Reference Service
    The assistance given by general or subject specialist librarians to a library patron to help him or her locate information resources.
  • Renew
    To renew is to extend the loan period of a book. Ellender Memorial patrons can renew books online by going to the iLink Power Search and then clicking on My Account.
  • Reserve Collection
    1. A collection of books, articles, etc. which are assigned by the university faculty as required reading for specific courses, and are separately housed on the second floor behind the Circulation Desk. These materials must be used in the Library.
  • Robot
    Software utility program that roams the Internet to compile a database of websites that can then be searched by a search engine. It can also be called a spider.

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S

  • Scroll
    Move up or down a page on a computer screen a little at a time using arrow keys, the scroll bar on the right, or the mouse.
  • Search Engine
    Software program that searches a database of Internet sites compiled by a robot. Search engines search keywords in titles, URLs, summaries, or even the full-text of Internet documents. Examples: www.altavista.com, www.alltheweb.com, www.google.com.
  • Search Strategy
    A systematic process of choosing the best combination of search terms in order to find the most relevant information on a topic.
  • “See” or “See also” reference
    Directions in the library online catalog that direct users to look under a different keyword or related terms. Sometimes called Cross References.
  • Semi-Monthly
    An item that is published two times a month. See also “Bi-Weekly.”
  • Serial
    A publication that is issued regularly,indefinitely over time, such as almanacs, annual reports, journals, and magazines.
  • Series
    A common title assigned by a publisher to a group of monographs having the same subject or theme. You can search series titles by a title search.
  • Server
    A computer that provides a service to other computers in a network by sharing its resources, such as programs and / or files.
  • Stacks
    The area in the library where library materials are shelved.
  • Stop Words
    Words that are ignored in indexing and searching because they are too common. Stop words vary from index to index, but normally include articles such as a, an, and the at the beginning of a title.
  • Subheading
    A subdivision of a more general subject heading.
  • Subject Heading
    A standardized term of phrase that describes the subject content of a work.
  • SuDoc Numbers
    The Superintendent of Document’s filing system used by Ellender Memorial Library to shelve government documents. SuDoc numbers are based on the government agency that issued the document. Example: Ag 1.2:Co 1/963 is a publication put out by the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit An Explanation of the Superintendent of Documents Classification System, a Federal Depository Library Porgram site.

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T

  • Trade Journal
    Periodical restricted to the interest of a trade or industry and which may include news items, articles, descriptions of goods, products, manufactured articles, lists of new publications, statistical data, etc.

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U

  • Uniform title
    An access point or standardized title established to group multiple editions or translations of a work together in the catalog despite the differences in the wording of their titles.
  • Union Catalog
    An Online Public Access Catalog which can search every library catalog in a consortia simulataneously. LOUIS is the union catalog for academic libraries in Louisiana, and can be search from a link on the library’s main page.

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V

  • Vendor
    1. A company which designs a database interface and owns the items that make up its content. 2. Vendors can also be the distributors who obtain books and other materials for libraries.

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W

  • Withdraw
    The process of removing items from the collection because they are outdated, redindant, or in very poor condition.
  • World Wide Web (or Web, WWW, W3)
    Portion of the Internet consisting of Interconnected, linked documents (web pages) which are accessible via web browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape).

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X

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Y

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Z

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