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Library Lingo

Do you sometimes feel that the library staff is using a different language than you are?

Here are the definitions of some common library terms. 

Archives — Documents created by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved for their historical value. Also the location where archival materials are kept. At IUP, the Special Collections and Archives department manages the archives, which is located in Stapleton Library in Special Collections on the third floor. Archives Web page

Abstract — A brief summary of the contents of a periodical article or book.

Anthology — A collection of works (poems, stories, articles) by various authors and collected in a single volume.

Acquisitions — Department within the library responsible for ordering and purchasing new materials.

Almanac — An annual publication containing astronomical data, weather forecasts, maps, dates, and other useful information. In the library, the current edition of The World Almanac, R 031 W89 is kept on the shelf behind the Reference Desk. Older editions can be found in the Reference stacks under the call number.

Bibliographic Record — An individual record in a database which describes and identifies a specific item (such as a book or journal) by fields (e.g., title, author, publication date, etc.).

Bibliography — A list of citations to journal articles, books, and other materials on a particular subject or by a particular author. A list of references given at the end of research reports and books.

Boolean operators (logical operators) — Terms such as “and,” “or,” and “not” used to express the relationship of one term to another when searching databases.

Browser — Software program used to view and interact with various types of Internet resources available on the World Wide Web. Netscape and Internet Explorer are two common examples.

Biography — Account of a person’s life, written by another. The person who writes a biography is the “biographer.” The person written about is known as the “biographee.”

Call Number — The unique combination of numbers and letters on the spine of each book in the library to group materials by similar subjects which enable the material to be found on the shelves.

Cataloging — The department in the library responsible for entering all the information necessary about library materials in the on-line catalog.

CD-ROM (Compact Disk–Read Only Memory) — An index or reference work that is stored on a compact disc and accessed and searched through a computer. In Stapleton Library, there are CD-ROMs for special databases located in the Reference Department.

Charged = Checked out — A term indicating that a particular item is on loan to a patron with a date of return.

Circulation Desk — The large counter to the left of the main door where patrons check out and return most library materials. Renewals, recalls, holds, and search forms are also handled here.

Citation — A reference or footnote to a book, article, or other material that contains all the information necessary to identify and locate the work. A book citation includes author, title, publisher, and year of publication; a journal citation includes author, article title and periodical title, date, volume, and page numbers of the particular article.

Controlled Vocabulary — Assigned standardized terms used in searching a specific database or catalog. These terms will differ for each database. Our on-line catalog uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings as controlled vocabulary for subject searches.

Copyright — Legal privilege granted to an author, editor, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor for exclusive rights of publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work. Libraries have a special interest in fair use of copyrighted material.

Database — An organized collection of information, data, or citations stored in electronic format that can be searched for specific information or records by techniques specific to each database.

Default Operator — The specific relations between words (and, or, phrase) that is assumed by a database if none is specified. This can have a major impact on how the words you enter are searched.

Dissertation — A text written by a candidate for a doctoral degree at a university in completion of requirements for a Ph.D.

Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI) — An index which lists summaries of dissertations. The DAI database is available from the IUP Libraries website. The paper index is in the reference collection, under the call number – R082 D632.

Documents — Usually refers to government documents or publications.

Discharged = Recently returned — If the date provided for the return of an item is the current date or within one day of the current date, check at the circulation desk for the item as well as the appropriate shelf.

Dewey Decimal Classification — A classification system that uses a notation based on decimal numbers. The classification system by Melvil Dewey, first published in 1876, divides Knowledge into ten main classes, with further subdivisions, accompanied by decimal notation.

Directory — Book, which lists the names, addresses, and phone/FAX numbers of a specific group of persons, companies, organizations, or publications. In the library, most directories are shelved in the Reference collection.

Display Rack — Located in the Reference Area near the desk, the flyers on the display rack explain how to use library resources and services. They are free to students, faculty, and staff.

Edition — Some books (particularly reference books) are revised and republished. The new version is often called the “revised” or “second” edition. Subsequent revisions are numbered sequentially. The latest edition is the most current, but older editions may contain useful information deleted from later editions.

Encyclopedia — A book or set of books of informative articles usually arranged in alphabetical order.

Essay — A short literary composition on a single subject expressing a personal view.

ERIC — Stands for Educational Resource Information Center, a federally-funded clearinghouse which publishes an index with abstracts to journal articles and unpublished research reports in education and related fields.

Etymology — The origin and development of a word, traced back as far as possible in time usually by the methods of comparative linguistics. Some dictionaries specialize in etymology, ex. The Oxford English Dictionary.

Fields (Electronic databases) — A particular section of a bibliographic record containing specific information, such as the author, title, or publication date of an item.

Folio — Refers to oversized books and materials. At IUP, these are shelved in separate sections from regular-size materials.

Format — The physical form of information as opposed to the content. Examples of formats include books, journals, newspapers, electronic, and microforms.

Full Text Database — A database where the entire text of an article can be viewed, printed, or downloaded directly from the computer terminal.

Fiction — Literary works which portray imaginary characters and events (especially novels and stories). The fiction collection is located on the second floor of the library.

Gazetteer — Dictionary or index of geographical names with locations.

Glossary — Short list of words related to a specific topic with brief definitions, often placed at the end of a book or at the beginning of a long entry in an encyclopedia.

Government Documents — Materials published by local, state, federal, and international government organizations. The Libraries of Indiana University of Pennsylvania are designated United States Government Documents Depository Library Program participants. As participants in this program, the Libraries of IUP receive a selected number of government publications on a continuing basis.

Handbook — Compact reference book that provides useful information on a specific subject. Statistical information is often provided in handbooks.

Hold — A service provided by the library where a patron can put a “hold” on an item, which is checked out to another patron. When it’s returned, it will be held at the Circulation Desk.

Holdings — The materials—books, journals, videos—that the Library actually owns. For a journal, this is the list of particular issues or years owned. This term is used in Voyager, IUP Library’s on-line catalog.

HTML — An acronym which stands for “HyperText Markup Language.” Most documents available on the World Wide Web are written in HTML. To see the HTML code for the document you are presently reading, click on “View” in the toolbar of your web browser and then select “Document Source” from the drop-down menu.

http:// — An internet address prefix which stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol.” HTTP is the language used by the Internet to access information available electronically on the World Wide Web.

Index — A printed or electronic publication which lists citations to periodical articles or books.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) — A service which allows current students, faculty, and staff to request books and periodical articles from other libraries if the material is not owned by IUP. The ILL office is located on the first floor of the library.

Internet — A group of interconnected worldwide computers using an agreed-on set of standards and protocols to request information from, and send information to, each other.

I-Card — Your I-Card is your library card at Stapleton Library. All circulating material requires your I-card for borrowing.

Journal — A publication containing scholarly articles written by experts on current research in a given field. An abstract and bibliography usually accompany articles.

Keyword Search — A search method in Voyager and in most databases which allows the search for the occurrence of a word anywhere in a record. The system will retrieve all the records containing the words typed.

Librarian — A professional specially educated and trained to assist you in finding and using information.

Logical Operators — See Boolean Operators.

Library Instruction — Individual or group instruction provided by librarians for teaching library research methods.

Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) — Word or phrase assigned by the Library of Congress to a book or media item to indicate what it is about. In a Subject search in the on-line catalog, you must type an official Library of Congress subject heading for your topic. The complete list of Library of Congress Subject headings is published in a multivolume set of large red books available at the Reference Desk.

Magazine — A periodical published primarily for the general public rather than for scholars.

Microfiche — Flat, plastic sheets containing micro-images of pages and read using a special machine.

Microfilm — A film containing reduced images of printed matter and stored on a reel. Readable on a special machine.

Microform — Printed material that has been photographed and reduced to a film format to help preserve the material and decrease the space needed for storage. Special equipment is needed to read stored information. Typical formats include microfilm and microfiche.

Monograph — Library term for a book on a single topic.

Media and Equipment — Located on the first floor across from the reference desk. Media tems include VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs. Services include equipment for student use and production items, including laminating and reproduction.
See Library Technology and Security for more information or to make a request.

Memoirs — A report or record of important events based on the writer’s own personal observation or special knowledge.

Not Charged = Here — Term that tells you the book or media item is available for borrowing.

Non-circulating — Some library materials may not be checked out. Non-circulating materials in Stapleton Library include reference books, special collection materials, and periodicals.

Nonfiction — Works portraying events which actually occurred and/or characters who actually existed. Shelved by Dewey number.

OPAC — An acronym which stands for “On-line Public Access Catalog.” It is a searchable, computerized database of materials owned by the library and displaying the call number and location of the material. The current IUP system is called Voyager.

Online = On line — Accessible via a computer or computer network. Generally synonymous with the words “automated,” “computerized,” and “electronic.”

Overdue — An item from the circulating collection which has been kept by the borrower past its due date. The library charges fines for the overdue materials.

Periodical — A publication with a unique title that is issued at an established interval (weekly, monthly, quarterly). Examples include journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Periodical Index — Cumulative listing of periodical articles, alphabetically by subject and by author’s last name. Most periodical indexes are devoted to a specific field (i.e., psychology) or type of periodical (i.e., newspapers).

Pilot — Name of the IUP Libraries’ On-line Catalog

Plagiarism — Using another person’s work as your own and without attributing to the original author.

Preface — Preliminary or introductory statement at the beginning a book or article which discusses its scope, purpose, plan, background, etc. Sometimes written by a person other than the author.

Pseudonym — A fictitious name, especially one assumed by an author. Also called a pen name.

Publisher — Company or person which prepares and issues print or nonprint materials for public distribution and/or sale.

Quarterly — Published four times a year, usually in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Many scholarly journals are published quarterly.

Recall — A request for the return of checked-out library material before the due date. This is done at the Circulation Desk.

Record — See Bibliographic Record.

Refereed Journal — A journal where articles are reviewed and selected by professional colleagues for publication. Check Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory to determine if a publication is refereed.

Reference Desk — Area where patrons can get help from library faculty not only using the library but also locating library materials and searching library databases.

Ready Reference — Noncirculating, frequently used materials, usually kept at the reference desk. These include style manuals, statistics, almanacs, college guides, etc.

Renewal — Extending the loan period or due date of materials. Ask at Circulation.

Reserves — A library service that manages the circulation of certain required course materials selected by instructors and made available for short-term loans. Located next to the Serial desk in the basement.

Review — A critical discussion or article, published in a newspaper or magazine, dealing with a recent book, play, concert, etc.

Scholarly Journal — See Journal.

Serial — Library term for publications issued at regular intervals. This can be a periodical, journal, magazine, newspaper, annual report, or a conference proceeding.

Subject Heading — A standard search term assigned to an item record to identify its primary content. Finding and using the appropriate subject terms is an important part of an effective search. (Compare to Keyword.)

Subject Search — A search technique which requires using the database’s own exact, predetermined vocabulary. See also Subject Heading.

SuDocs Number — Government Documents are classified by following a system of letters and numbers as required by the Superintendent of Documents. SuDoc numbers begin with letters of the alphabet representing the particular department of the government that issued the document. In Stapleton Library, government documents can be found on the first floor.

Terminal — One station that is part of a computer system; an individual computer station.

Thesaurus — A list of synonyms, sometimes including contrasting words, assigned in a particular database, index, or on-line catalog that can be used to search that database.

Truncation — In a keyword search, a word root followed by a truncation symbol to retrieve variant endings. Example: comput? to retrieve computer or computers or computing or computation. Some databases may use the * instead of a ? as the truncation symbol.

URL — An acronym that stands for Uniform Resource Locator, the unique address of every item on the Internet used to locate and retrieve a particular page. Example: http://www.iup.edu/library.

Videos — See Media Circulation.

World Wide Web (WWW) — An information system using the Internet to access information stored on computers worldwide.

Web Browser — A sophisticated software program which allows the user to search for information available electronically on the World Wide Web.

Yearbook — An annual documentary, historical, or memorial publication containing information about the previous year. Yearbooks are usually shelved in the reference collection.

  • IUP Libraries
  • Stapleton Library, Room 203
    431 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2340
  • Fax: 724-357-4891

Stapleton Library Hours

Sunday: Open at 11:00 a.m.
Monday–Thursday: Open 24 hours
Friday: Midnight to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.

Exceptions to Regular Library Hours