Library Lingo

 Did you ever want to understand what people who work in libraries were talking about?

INDEX: A | B | C | D | E | F-G | H-I | J-K | L-M | N-O | P | R-S | T-U-V-W | References


Abstract: A summary of the content of a document or article. 

Academic Search Complete: This computerized full text article database, produced by EBSCO, tries to cover all major disciplines that are studied in a liberal arts institution.

Adobe Acrobat®: Adobe's software that creates documents in Portable Document Format (PDF). Many scanners include a version of Acrobat software so that paper documents can be converted into digital PDF images. The current version of Office and Google Docs can create PDF documents using a special print function. Acrobat has a number of output settings: one allows collaborative markup of a document, while another "locks" the PDF to prevent changes. A free PDF viewer exists for almost every computer operating system, making this format a good choice for widespread document distribution.

Adobe Acrobat Reader®: A freeware software program, available for download at the Adobe site, that allows viewing of PDF files on your computer.

Advanced Catalog: The advanced library catalog provides a search mode offering more options than one simple searchbox. Advanced search mode is more difficult to use, but is essential for focusing your search results to just the highly relevant books or articles. Search engines such as Google offer advanced search modes, as do most journal databases offered by the university. For help with advanced search, phone an OCLS librarian at 800-521-1848.

ALI (Academic Libraries of Indiana): A resource sharing consortium of almost all of the academic libraries in Indiana. Students may submit a signed ALI card application to OCLS that allows the student to have borrowing privileges at other Indiana academic libraries.

Almanac: A book that provides statistics and facts. The short subject specific articles found in Credo Reference are similar to those found in an almanac.

AMP (business): Applied Management Project; the management project is designed to demonstrate that a student has developed the ability to integrate a diverse education and several years of practical experience.

AMP (Christian Ministry): Applied Ministry Project, the ministry project is designed to demonstrate that a student has developed the ability to integrate a diverse education and several years of practical experience.

Annotation: A brief summary describing an entry in a bibliography.   Annotations are used to evaluate and fully describe a work.   Annotations should be brief (rarely longer than 150 words).

Article: A short written work either found in a periodical or in a collected work such as an encyclopedia.



Barcode Number:  See Library Access Number.

Bibliographic Record: Information used for the identification of any information source. Most records consist of the author’s name, date of publication, title, city of publication, and publisher. The references on an APA "References" page are a form of bibliographic record.

Bibliography: A list of sources which at a minimum provides bibliographic record that identifies each unique book, article, or other item. In an "annotated bibliography" each bibliographic record is followed by text that describes or reviews the item. The annotation in a "working bibliography" is created early in the research process, and is used by the writer to record how the item might be used. Note that APA is silent about how to format bibliographies. For specific guidance on creating your bibliography, consult your professor.

Boolean operators: And, Or, Not

Boolean searching: A search strategy for finding specific information on your topic. Using Boolean operators you may combine search terms to find results:

Term 1 AND Term 2   Sample: "General Electric AND Jeffrey Immelt"

• You will find results containing both search terms

Term 1 OR Term 2  Sample: "Junior High School OR Middle School"

• You will find results containing either search term

Term 1 NOT Term 2 Sample: "Eating Disorders NOT bulimia"

• You will find results about eating disorders, but not bulimia

A software program that allows you to view Internet resources. Also called a web browser. Examples: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Foxfire, and Netscape Navigator are browsers.



Call Number: The number and/or letter code which determines the location of a book on the library shelf. The number/letter code designates the subject classification of a book. The call number appears on the cover of the book and on the record in the online catalog. Be sure you have the complete call number to easily find the item on the shelf. Example: Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has a call number of: 423 M551

Card Catalog: An obsolete name for the library catalog. Large libraries prior to 1900 would print catalog books listing all of the books in their inventory. From 1900 to 1980 libraries maintained their inventories and indexes on 3x5 cards stored in special filing cabinets which were dubbed "card catalogs." The card technology lasted for generations, primarily because adding or deleting a few cards could instantly update the library's inventory. Since 1980 large libraries have maintained electronic files of records that tell what materials the library owns and where the materials are stored. The computer technology of modern library catalogs lets faculty and students access the information (now including the full text of e-books) from their home or office, enabling online university programs to offer the resources of a residential program.

Cataloging: The process of preparing bibliographic records to enter into the library’s catalog.

CD-ROM: Compact Disc-Read Only Memory; a data storage medium that is used to store and read large amounts of information.

Check Out: To borrow materials from the library for a specified amount of time. For example, students in the College of Graduate Studies and the College of Adult & Professional Studies may check out materials for 28 days.

CINAHL: This acronym stands for Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature. It is one of the best indexes for nursing research.

Circulating Collection: The collection of materials which may be borrowed from the library.

Citation: The information needed to describe and/or locate a particular book or article.   An "in-text" APA citation directs the user to a "reference" at the end of the article or book. A more generic use of the word "citation" can refer to the reference or full bibliographic information, and will usually contain information such as author’s name, title, date of publication, source, etc.

Cohort Group: Indiana Wesleyan groups all students into core groups.  Your core group consists of your program and a 3 or 4 digit number.  Example: ASB1395. 

Collection: The accumulated group of all library materials.   Books and e-book material are accessible through the library catalog, magazines and journal articles are accessed through various databases, and some paper resources (such as archive documents) can only be used in the Jackson library building.

Controlled Vocabulary: A specified list of subject terms. Can also be called descriptors.

Copyright: The legal provision of exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute a work.



Database: Any electronically stored collection of data. In the case of libraries, it may be a database of articles from journals; a database of book, videos, etc.; or a combination of both.

Database vendor: The company that provides access to a particular database. Examples: EBSCOHost, Emerald, Gale, ProQuest.

Descriptor: Interchangeable with "subject heading," ERIC and CINAHL use the term "descriptor” while EBSCO and book catalogs use "subject headings".

Dewey Decimal System: The classification system by Melvil Dewey, first published in 1876, which divides knowledge into ten main classes, with further subdivisions, accompanied by decimal notation. Materials are placed in the library and are assigned a number from the Dewey Decimal System. The Jackson Library shelves its books using the Dewey Decimal System.

Digital Object Identifier: The digital object identifier is a permanent identifier assigned to any piece of intellectual property on a digital network.  The DOI number consists of both alpha and numeric characters. The DOI number is utilized in the APA writing style, on the references page.  Example: doi:10.1109/TE.2007.904601

Dissertation: Original, independent research written and completed when obtaining a PhD, EdD, etc.

Dissertations & Theses: Database that provides access to abstracts, citations, and even some full text for every title in their database. It is made up of dissertations and theses written for master's and doctoral requirements.

DOI: See Digital Object Identifier.

Due Date: The date assigned when books that are borrowed from the library must be returned.

DVD: Storing 4.7 gigabytes, a DVD has almost seven times the storage capacity of a CD-ROM. A DVD is a useful storage medium for backing up course materials.



eBrary: An e-book vendor which supplies IWU with over 70,000 titles. eBrary books can be read online, or, with Adobe Digital Editions software, downloaded to your device.

EBSCOHost: A computer database vendor that provides access to e-books, reports, and articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals. A selection of EBSCO databases is often found in public libraries, so mastering an EBSCO database will often be useful long after your formal academic studies have concluded.

Electronic Books (E-Books): Books available in an electronic format which can be accessed and read via your computer or handheld device. Unfortunately, different suppliers have developed competing formats and various methods to prevent piracy. One of the earliest e-book collections was developed by Project Gutenburg, which has developed a collection of over 40,000 pre-1924 books which are not under copyright and which may be read without fees or authorization. The eBRARY and EBSCO eBook Collection provide IWU students with access to over eighty thousand titles.

E-mail attachment: Files can be distributed to another computer by attaching a file to an email message. 

Emerald: A publisher of scholarly articles and books on management. In advanced search, one can limit search results to "My Subscribed Content" -- a useful limiter, as the University only purchased access to a subset of Emerald publications.

Empirical: Data or information obtained through experiment, experience, or observation, and which can be verified.

Encyclopedia: set of books containing informational articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order.

ERIC: This acronym stands for Educational Resources Information Center. It is a computerized database including the following: abstracts of education journal articles and documents such as unpublished reports, dissertations, and government studies.



Fair Use: Conditions under which copying is not an infringement of U.S. copyright law.

Full-Text Articles: Those articles in an online periodical index, e.g. Expanded Academic, that include availability of the entire article. Sometimes pictures/graphics/charts/tables cannot be included, but just the actual text of the original article. 

Full-Text Database: A database in which the full content or text, of the article is available for you to access and read immediately.

Gale Databases: A computer database vendor that provides access to newspaper, magazine, and journal articles. Gale also offers specialized products such as Opposing Viewpoints and Virtual Reference Library

Government Publication: Any document created by a local, state or national government organization. Often referred to as a government document, or a public document.



Hit: A successful match when searching the Internet or a database.

Holdings: See Collection.

Homepage: By default, the first page you see when you logon to the Internet. The term homepage also refers to the main web page of a person or business. The homepage for the University is   The Off Campus Library Services homepage is

HTML: Hypertext markup language. Used for documents on the World Wide Web.

Http: Hypertext transfer protocol. The client-server TCP/IP protocol used on the World Wide Web. Allows transfer of HTML documents.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL): A system of agreements between libraries by which they will share their parts of their collections. If a patron wishes to have a book or article that is not available in his/her library, a librarian may arrange to borrow this item from another library. (Note: Please use IWU Library OCLS for interlibrary loan requests—not your local library.)

INSPIRE: Indiana Spectrum of Information Resources; A group of databases, mostly provided by vendors, which are provided through state funding to residents of the state of Indiana.

Internet: A global system of computer networks connected via TCP/IP protocols using a telecommunications system.

Issue Number: A single uniquely numbered or dated part of a periodical. One issue is part of a larger volume.



Jackson Library: The main library of Indiana Wesleyan University, located on the main campus in Marion, Indiana. OCLS is a department of Jackson Library.

Journal: A periodical, especially one containing scholarly articles on research and development in a particular subject field.

Journal Holdings List: The list of journals which IWU library has access to in some kind of format. These formats can be paper copy, microform, electronic access (Internet), etc. 

Keyword: The most significant word in the abstract, title, or text of a work which is used as a search term.

KYVL: Kentucky Virtual Library; A group of databases, mostly provided by vendors, which are provided through state funding to residents of the commonwealth of Kentucky.



LAN: See Library Access Number

Lexis-Nexis® Academic:   A database which provides access to information from newspapers, journals, reference materials and legal documents.  

Librarian: A person responsible for the administration of a library. S/he obtains a master's in library science and are proficient in locating all kinds of information. OCLS has outstanding "reference" librarians. 

Library Access Number: The 14-digit number that is issued to all students for identification purposes.  If you were issued a student ID card, this number should be visible. If you never received an ID card you may generate your unique LAN using your student ID number. Or you may contact the OCLS staff for assistance. Faculty may request a LAN by contacting OCLS. The LAN is a part of the computer system at the IWU Library and allows library privileges at IWU. The number also allows access to a number of subscription databases that the university provides for student/faculty use.

Library Catalog: The index and inventory of the library's book and journal holdings. The online library catalog tracks whether an item has been borrowed or is available for loan, and offers a "request" option to select books for shipment to remote students by "postal delivery." Students and faculty can check their library account to see when the books they borrowed need to be returned.

Library Consortium: A formal association of libraries. SWON is an example of a library consortium.

Literature Search: A search using various databases or other means to locate citations on a topic. 

Magazine: A periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.

Meta search engines: A web site that allows you to search many search engines at one time. The disadvantage of metasearch is that special search options available in each individual database are unavailable in the blended product.   Example meta search engines include: Dogpile (, Ixquick ( and (

Microfiche: A flat sheet of photographic film. Periodicals often store information on microfiche because many pages of material can be stored in this format. See microform.

Microfilm: Photographic film rolls housed on reels, cartridges or cassettes. Periodicals often store information on microfilm because many pages of material can be stored in this format. See microform.

Microform: Includes microfilm and microfiche. Microfilm is film that contains photographic images of information, e.g. pages of a journal. Microfiche are flat 4 inch by 6-inch sheets of photographic images. Microfilm is either 1 inch wide or approximately. 3 inches wide and on a roll. Special machines are needed to read the reduced images and to print back to a paper format. If the Jackson Library collection has a desired document in a microform format, the OCLS staff will scan and email a limited number of pages from the microform document upon request.



Northest Ohio Regional Library System: A consortium of libraries in northeast Ohio. IWU is a member of this consortium.

NetLibrary: An early company that provided access to electronic books (e-books). The NetLibrary collection was purchased by EBSCO, and rebranded as the EBSCO eBook Collection. See electronic books.

Non-circulating: Library materials which cannot leave the library. Some examples include reference materials, journals, microform, etc.

Off Campus Library Services (OCLS): Off Campus Library Services provides you with immediate access to library resources for your research needs. Based in Jackson Library at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, the OCLS staff is prepared to serve the unique needs of adult learners of the Colleges of Adult and Professional Studies and Graduate Studies.

Online Card Catalog: A term marking the transition from inventory cards in wooden cabinets to electronic indexes accessed by computer.   In the period 1880-1980 libraries were usually inventoried and indexed using cards. The cabinet where these inventory cards were shelved was known as the "card catalog." and the computer version added the prefix "online." The reference to cards is now disappearing, and most librarians simply refer to the "catalog" or "library catalog."



PDF File: Portable document format used by Adobe Acrobat®. Used by OCLS to transmit scanned documents.

Peer-reviewed: Also referred to as scholarly, academic, primary, refereed or technical journals. Usually an original publication (not previously published) that contains articles that have been reviewed by peers before acceptance by the journal for publication. Each article submission must fill a ‘gap’ of knowledge in that discipline area and must be substantial enough that those doing research from that article can build and add to the knowledge base.

Periodical: Any publication which appears in regular issues over time—newspapers, magazines, journals. The term ‘periodical’ and ‘journal’ are interchangeable.

Periodical Holdings: See Journal Holdings.

Periodical Index: A listing that cites the individual articles appearing in a selected group of periodicals.

Plagiarism: The taking or copying of someone else’s words, ideas, thoughts, pictures, etc., and presenting them as your own. Academic writing requires in text citation to show that ideas are coming from outside sources.

ProQuest: Database vendor that provides access to full-text newspapers, like Wall Street Journal, and full-text magazine collections for nursing and education and business.   ProQuest also provides access to Dissertations & Theses.



Reference Collection: The non-circulating materials of a library which provide basic information about a topic. Reference books may only be used in the library, they do not check-out.

Refereed: See Peer-reviewed.

Renewal: Extending a check-out for a period of time beyond the original due date.

Research: Systematic, intensive searching conducted to discover new knowledge.

Research Article: A journal article that describes original research. It may utilize different kinds of research, e.g. historical, action, descriptive, longitudinal, etc. The author(s) are the ones who did the research/experimentation, etc. They are not writing about research, but the actual research. The article usually will be broken out into sections, including purpose of the study, methodology, findings, conclusion, references. These kinds of articles are usually found in peer-reviewed journals. See also: empirical, peer-reviewed

Search: See Literature Research

Search Directory: An Internet directory that allows you to search for categorized information. Search directories list information by subject.  Examples of search directories include (,  Internet Public Library ( and ( 

Search Engine: A web site that allows you to perform keyword searches of the Internet to locate information. Good search engines to use are Google ( and Teoma ( and Bing ( 

Serial: A publication that is issued in parts indefinitely over time. Examples: journals, periodicals, magazines, almanacs, etc.

Subject Heading: The specific word or phrase used to find a book or article on a specific topic in a catalog or magazine index. See descriptor.

SWON Libraries (Southwest Ohio & Neighboring Libraries): A consortium of all types of libraries located in southwest Ohio; northern Kentucky. IWU belongs to this consortium and this allows students/faculty to go to these libraries and check out materials.



Table of Contents: A list of the contents of a work; usually found at the beginning of a book, periodical or magazine.

TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol; the language governing communications between all computers on the Internet

Telnet: Internet standard protocol for remote login. Runs on top of TCP/IP. It acts as a terminal emulator.

Thesaurus: In a database, this function will lead you to other related terms that should be used for searching your topic; will list synonyms for your search term. Used extensively for searching databases such as ERIC or CINAHL.

Truncation: In database or Internet searching, to cut the search term short to retrieve all terms with a common root. Example: If looking for articles on assessment, you would truncate to assess*. This would tell the database to search for all terms beginning with the letters assess, such as assess, assesses, assessing, assessed, assessment, etc. 

URL: Uniform Resource Locator; the web address of a web site. Example: is the URL for the Google homepage.

Vendor: See Database vendor.

Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity; Wireless networking. Allows your computer to access the Internet via radio signals.

Wildcard: Wildcards are used in the middle of a word to find variants of terms. Each database its own symbol for indicating a wildcard, but it is most frequently a question mark, "?". Example: Wom?n would find articles containing the word women or woman.

World Wide Web: World Wide Web. Internet client-server hypertext method of distributing information on the Internet.




Hutchison, N. B. (2004, July). Library jargon: Student recognition of terms and concepts commonly used by librarians in the classroom. College & Research Libraries, 65, 349-354.

Off Campus Library Services. (2004). Library resource guide. Marion, IN: Author.

Learn the net: Glossary. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Library lingo: Some common library terms defined. (n.d.). The University of Texas at San Antonio Library. Retrieved from

Pemberton, A., & Fritzler, P. (2004, March). The language barrier: Don’t let library lingo get in the way of learning. College & Research Libraries News, 65, 154-155.

Young, H. (1983). The ALA glossary of library and information science. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.



Contact OCLS: 800-521-1848
Hours: Mon. 8-8 | Tue. 8-8 | Wed. 8-8 | Thu. 8-8 | Fri. 8-5 | Sat. 9:30-2
Librarians may not be available all open hours, but will answer ASAP.
    Address: Off Campus Library Services - Jackson Library, Indiana Wesleyan University, 4201 South Washington, Marion, IN, U.S.A. 46953