The Ralph M. Besse Guide to Library Jargon


Abridged Dictionary
see Dictionary.
A brief, non-judgmental summary of a work, often of a periodical article, accompanied by the bibliographic description of the work.
Abstracting Service
A collection of abstracts in a particular field or on a particular subject prepared by an individual or a commercial organization and regularly received by subscribers. Usually the abstracts are arranged by subject, and often include author and subject indexes. Psychological Abstracts is an example of an abstracting service.
Academic Journal
see Journal.
Annotated Bibliography
A bibliography that includes a summary and/or evaluation of each source listed. Depending on the project or assignment, annotations may also include reflective assessments of sources. For example, your instructor may ask you to address the following questions in your annotations: Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Audiovisual Materials
Non-book materials such as DVDs, CDs, video and audio cassettes, etc. Sometimes these are just called AV. At Ursuline Library, audiovisual materials are available in the Media Center.
Author Affiliation
Scholarly research materials (monographs, specialized encyclopedia articles, journal articles, etc.) often include an associated (affiliated) educational or professional organization, institution, or other entity when describing an author's academic and/or professional credentials.

An account of a person’s life, written by that person. See Also Biography.


Bibliographic Citation
The information needed for someone to find the item. For example, the bibliographic citation for a book would contain the Title, Author or Editor, Edition, Place of Publication, Publisher and Year of Publication. The bibliographic citation for an article would contain the Title of the Article, Author of the Article, Title of the Periodical, Volume Number, Issue Number (or sometimes the month and date), Year of Publication, and the Page Numbers. Sometimes also referred to as a bibliographic entry, reference, or just as a CITATION.

A list of items such as books, documents, articles, videos, etc. arranged in a logical order. Books, scholarly articles, research papers, etc. often include bibliographies listing the information sources on which they are based. A bibliography usually contains identifying information (author, title, publisher, date and place of publication, etc.) so that the reader can locate the items.
A Bibliography with brief biographical information about the author or authors of the works.

A written account of a person’s life, or some portion of their life. See Also Autobiography.
Book Truck
A cart used to hold books before they are re-shelved, and then used to carry the books to the shelves for re-shelving.

Boolean Searching
A method of combining search terms by expressing the relationship of one concept to another generally using 'and', 'or', 'not'.
For more information, see Boolean Logic or Effective Online Searching Part 1 (Ursuline Library tutorial)
See Also Keyword Searching.
A term referring to pages, sheets or issues of periodicals which have been covered by a binding, usually hardback, to create a single Volume. This process is used in libraries to preserve items for long term use.


Call Number
Letters, numbers, and symbols (used separately or in combination) assigned to a book to show its location in the library shelving system. Call numbers are derived from the classification system used by the particular library. Ursuline College Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System.
A list of items such as books, periodicals, maps and/or videos arranged in a defined order. The list usually records, describes and indexes the resources of a collection, a library or a group of libraries.

An abbreviation for the term "Compact Disc--Read Only Memory". This acronym refers to a computer-readable CD that contains information that can be retrieved and displayed on a terminal, but that cannot be altered by the user.
see Bibliographic Citation.

Controlled Vocabulary
The words and phrases used by a subject specialist when creating Subject Headings for an article, document, book, etc. for a specific index or catalog. For example, the books within the Ursuline College Library collection are given subject headings from the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Articles listed in the ERIC database are given subject headings by the indexers of that database from the ERIC Thesaurus. Using a controlled vocabulary brings together items of similar subjects under a single term. Compare with Natural Language.


A collection of computer records that have a standard format, usually containing Fields that are searchable and allow some electronic manipulation such as sorting or grouping. Databases within the library usually contain Bibliographic Citations (information about books, articles, government documents, etc.) although databases containing statistical material or the full text of selected publications are also possible. Go to Ursuline College Library's Indexes/Databases.

Words or phrases used as Subject Headings.

A book which defines the terms of a language, profession, discipline, or specialized area of knowledge. The terms are arranged in alphabetical order. Usually, a language dictionary will give the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of each word. A dictionary of the words and terms of a restricted field of knowledge gives only the meanings. ABRIDGED DICTIONARIES limit themselves to the most commonly used words. UNABRIDGED DICTIONARIES aim at a much higher level of completeness.


An abbreviated term for electronic book. A book that is available in an electronic or computerized form. Go to OhioLINK's E-Book Center.

An abbreviated term for electronic journal. A Periodical that is available in an electronic or computerized form such as on the Web or on CD-ROM. An abbreviated term for electronic journal.
A work containing factual articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged alphabetically. A SUBJECT ENCYCLOPEDIA is a similar work on a single field of activity or a single subject. An encyclopedia can be one volume or many volumes, depending on the amount of material included.


A subdivision of the computer record used for a defined category or purpose. An example in a Bibliographic record is the author field, where the name of the author is located.
Field Specific Search
A search of a Database that identifies the occurrence of a term, using either Free Text or Controlled Vocabulary, in a particular Field in the database. A field specific search is more precise than searching all fields. A common example is a "subject" search in a library catalog.

Free text
Usually describes a method of searching a database using Natural Language rather than a Controlled Vocabulary. The person searching would search as many terms as she/he could think of that would be related to the topic of interest. The computer would search all Fields, or designated fields.


An alphabetical list of technical terms within a subject field, including definitions. A glossary may also be a list of unusual or obsolete terms.
Government Documents
Monographs, serial publications, reports, or official communication published by any public governing body--federal, state, county, or municipal.


A list, in alphabetical or numerical order, of the topics, names, etc. that are treated or mentioned in a publication or group of publications, along with references to the pages where the topics are discussed. Author, subject and title indexes are common; the type of index depends on the type of material covered in the publication. An index might be for a book, an encyclopedia, a group of periodicals, newspapers, government documents, etc.
Interlibrary Loan
See Interlibrary Loan


A Periodical on a specialized topic. Journals are often published by a professional association, society, foundation, or institute. A REFEREED JOURNAL or PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL is one in which the process to determine if an article will be accepted for publication is done by professional colleagues, or peers (also known as the peer review process). Sometimes these periodicals are also called SCHOLARLY JOURNALS or ACADEMIC JOURNALS. See also Magazine.


Keyword Searching
Searching which uses a few key, or important, words to retrieve books or articles on a specific topic or associated with those words in some way. The keywords could be used to search from the text of the document (if it is a full-text database), or some named Field (author, title, etc.) depending on the Database being used and the searcher's intent. Often useful for very new topics for which Controlled Vocabulary indexes will not have a subject term yet established. Searching by keyword often utilizes Boolean Searching.


Library of Congress Classification System
A classification system developed by the Library of Congress for its collection, and since adopted by most of the nation's colleges and universities. The system is particularly well-suited to large libraries because of its capacity for generating and accommodating new subject headings.


A Periodical containing news stories or articles on various subjects and written for general readership (as opposed to a scholarly or technical audience). See Also Journal.
The strictest meaning refers to a document of any kind that is handwritten. The term may also refer to the handwritten or typescript copy of the text of a music or literary composition before it is printed for publication.

A small, flat sheet, usually 4x6 or 3x5 inches, of photographic film which contains micro images arranged in horizontal and vertical rows. See Also Microfilm, Microform.

Photographic film showing micro images of publications, such as the contents of journals. See Also Microfiche, Microform.

Refers to material (reports, articles, books, documents, etc.) recorded on photographic film at a greatly reduced size. Examples include Microfilm and Microfiche.
A scholarly book on a single subject, class of subjects, or person. Within the library field, this term is often used for any non-serial publication. A more specific definition is a lengthy work on a particular subject or person, detailed in treatment and often containing bibliographies.


Natural language
When choosing words or phrases to describe a document, article, book or other material's subject content, the indexer (individual creating an Index) can select any appropriate term, often using the language from the document itself. Compare with Controlled Vocabulary.


A copy of an article published in a periodical, specially reprinted for the author's use, but retaining the numbering of the issue from which it was taken. Sometimes referred to as a Separate.

See What is OhioLINK?

Online catalog
A Catalog in electronic (machine-readable) format and able to be accessed online. Also known as an ONLINE PUBLIC ACCESS COMPUTER (OPAC).
see Online catalog.



Peer-Reviewed Journal
see Journal

A publication that is produced at regular intervals, or "periodically", under the same title and is intended to appear indefinitely. Generally, the frequency is more often than annually such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. See Also Magazine, Journal, Serial, Trade Journal, and E-Journal.
Periodical Index
A subject, author, or title Index to a group of periodicals.
A machine that reproduces the markings from a piece of paper or a page onto a different piece of paper using a photographic process.

A portion of a work printed and issued before the publication of the complete work.
This term has two meanings: 1) A machine that prints the output from a computer to paper, or 2) A person or company that produces the printed copy of a book or other item.

The published record of a meeting of a society, association, institution, or other organization, often accompanied by abstracts or reports of papers presented. Sometimes synonymous with Transactions.


Shelf or shelves used for displaying books, magazines, periodicals or other library materials. See Also Range, Stack, Shelving.

A row of book shelves, usually double-faced, anywhere in the library. Range is sometimes synonymous with Stack. See Also Rack, Shelving.
Refereed Journal
see Journal.
An official or formal record of the activities of a committee or corporate entity, or of a special investigation, or of the proceedings of a governmental body. The term is also used for publications that are a separately issued record of research results, research in progress, or other technical studies. In this case, there is usually a report number and sometimes a grant number given, and the publication may be more specifically called a TECHNICAL REPORT.
Either 1) A book that has been printed or reproduced at a later date than the original printing but using the same type and the same content, or 2) A periodical article or a chapter in a book which is issued separately from the larger publication and at a later date. See Also Offprint, Preprint.


A machine that digitizes the markings from a piece of paper or a page, creating an electronic image of the original.
Scholarly Journal
see Journal.
see Offprint.

Any publication issued in successive parts, appearing at intervals, usually regular ones, and, as a rule, intended to be continued indefinitely. The term includes Periodicals, newspapers, annuals, numbered monographic series and the proceedings, transactions and memoirs of societies.

Collectively, the shelves upon which books and other library materials are stored. See Also Rack, Range, Stack.

The shelves or bookcases on which the library's materials are stored. The plural, stacks, is often used. See Also Rack, Range, Shelving.
Style Manual
Special handbooks that illustrate the accepted forms for citing references in bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes. Some style manuals are for general use. Others are published by professional associations as form guides for articles in journals in that field of knowledge and research.

Subject Heading
The word or phrase used to describe the subject content of a work. Also known as Descriptors. An alphabetical list of all the subject headings in a particular collection or Database with a description of the location of the work (page number, call number, citation, etc.), is the subject Index for that collection or database. Some indexes or databases use Controlled Vocabulary, and others use Natural Language.
Superintendent of Documents Classification System
A system of arranging federal government publications in an alpha/ numerical order based on the name of the major issuing government department (such as Agriculture Department, Commerce Department, etc.). Often referred to as the SuDocs or SuDox Classification System. An example of a SuDocs number is: D4.16/3:8.


When an index or database uses Controlled Vocabulary (a standardized word or phrase list), the thesaurus is an alphabetical listing of the terms currently in use. The thesaurus will also show relationships between terms such as synonymous or related terms, hierarchical arrangements (broader terms, narrower terms), and provide references from terms not currently in use to acceptable terms, including older words or phrases that are no longer used.

Trade Journal
A Periodical that publishes news and other items of interest for a particular trade or industry.

The published papers read at meetings of a society, association, institution, or other organization, or abstracts of the same. Sometimes synonymous with Proceedings.


Unabridged Dictionary
see Dictionary.


This word is used to describe two different materials: 1) A series of printed sheets, bound, typically, in book form, or 2) An arbitrary number of consecutive issues of a periodical.


Information for this Glossary was taken from: