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Abstract – A brief, objective summary of the essential content of a book, article, speech, report, dissertation, or other work.

Anthology – A collection of extracts or complete works by various authors, selected by an editor for publication in a single volume or multivolume set.

Archives – A collection of generally non-circulating historical or public records such as personal papers, rare books, or the activities of an organization such as a business.

Article – A brief work on a topic often published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Article databases – Huge collections of the electronic version of reputable magazine, journal, newspaper, and encyclopedia articles.  The Lone Star College – Montgomery Library provides access to over 100 such databases.

Authentication – A security process that typically employs usernames and passwords to validate the identity of users before allowing them to access certain information.3

Author search – Searching information resources such as a library catalog or research database for works (e.g., book, video, article) written by a particular person or organization.  A search restricted to the author field.  See Fields.


Bibliographic instruction (BI) – Instructional programs designed to teach library users how to locate the information they need quickly and effectively.1

Bibliography – A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document.3  Also called “Works Cited” and “Reference List.”

Biography – A carefully researched, relatively full narrative account of the life of a specific person or closely related group of people written by another.1

Book – A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic.  May be print or electronic.3

Boolean – A system of logic developed by the English mathematician George Boole (1815-64) that allows the user to combine words or phrases representing significant concepts in a keyword search of an online catalog1 or article databases.

Boolean operator – A word?such as AND, OR, or NOT?that commands a computer to combine search terms.  Helps to narrow a search (AND, NOT) or broaden a search (OR).3

Broaden a search – Using various ways to attempt to retrieve more results than previously found while searching a library catalog or article databases.  Attempts can be made by using the Boolean operator OR, truncation, or a wildcard.

Browser – A software program that enables users to access Internet resources.  Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and Mozilla Firefox are all browsers.3


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Call number – A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings.  Two major types of call numbers are Dewey Decimal Call Numbers and Library of Congress Call Numbers.3

Catalog – A database (either online or on paper cards) listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library.  Various search terms allow you to look for items in the catalog.3  Also called library catalog or OPAC.

Check-out – To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it.  Check-out periods vary by library.  Items are checked out at the circulation desk.3

Circulating collection – Books and other materials that may be checked out by registered borrowers for use inside or outside the library.1

Circulation – The process of checking books and other materials in and out of a library.1

Circulation desk – The place in the library where you check out, renew, and return library materials.  You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.3

Citation – A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work.  A citation to a book thus includes its author’s name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.3

CollectionSee Library collection.

Collection development – The process of planning and building a useful and balanced collection of library materials over a period of years, based on an ongoing assessment of the information needs of the library’s clientele, analysis of usage statistics, and demographic projections, normally constrained by budgetary limitations.  Collection development includes the formulation of selection criteria, planning for resource sharing, and replacement of lost and damaged items, as well as routine selection and deselection decisions.1


Database – A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.3  The information can be, for example, the bibliographic records in a library catalog or the articles in a research (article) database.  Databases are composed of records.  Each article in a research database is a record.  Records are composed of fields.  For example, the fields of a database article (record) include the article’s title, author, source or journal name, abstract, and subjects.  These fields can be searched with field codes such as ti, au, so, jn, ab, and su.

Deep WebSee Invisible Web.

Download – To transfer information from a computer to a program or storage device to be viewed at a later date.  To transfer information from one computer to another computer using a modem.3  To transfer information from a server to a computer on the network it serves.


E-book (Electronic book) – An electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer.3

Edition – The form or version in which a text is published, such as a paperback edition.  The whole number of copies published at one time.  One of the usual several issues of a newspaper in a single day, such as the city edition.2

ELCSee Library vs. Extended Learning Center.

Embargo period The time during which the articles published in a periodical (e.g., journal, magazine) are not available in online full-text [databases], usually the most recent one to three years.1

Encyclopedia – A book or numbered set of books containing authoritative summary information about a variety of topics in the form of short essays, usually arranged alphabetically or classified in some manner.1

Extended Learning Center (ELC)See Library vs. Extended Learning Center.


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Field codes – A database is composed of records.  Records are composed of fields.  For example, a library catalog is a database of bibliographic records.  Each bibliographic record represents an item (e.g., book, video) in the library’s collection.  In article databases or research databases, each record is an article.  The fields of an article, for example, include the title, author, abstract, subject, and source, or the journal or magazine in which the article was initially published.  A field code is a two-letter abbreviation that identifies or represents one of these fields.  The codes for the previous five fields are ti, au, ab, su and so, respectively.  These codes can be used in a database search.  They tell the database to look in specific fields for terms in the search.  For example, in an article-database search, ti chocolate tells the database to look for articles with the term chocolate in article titles.

Fields – The parts of each record in a database.  The fields in a record can include, for example, title, author, abstract, subject, source, publisher, publication date, and publication location.

Full-text – A complete electronic copy of a resource, usually an article, viewed on a computer display screen.  The term “full-text” is often used to refer to the electronic version of an article or book that is also published in print.3  In article databases, full-text is commonly in either PDF or HTML.


Hardback, Hardcover – A book bound in an inflexible board case or cover, usually covered in cloth, paper, plastic, leather, or some other durable material, as distinct from a book bound in a cover made of flexible material.1

Hold – A request by a user to a library that a book checked out to another person be saved for that user when it is returned.3

Holdings – The information resources (e.g., books, videos) a library owns.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language.  The computer language used to create documents on the World Wide Web so that they are readable by Web browsers.3  HTML is also a type of full-text in some article databases.

Hyperlink – An image or portion of text which a Web user can click to jump to another document or page on the Web.  Textual hyperlinks are often underlined and appear as a different color than the majority of the text on a Web page.3


Index – An alphabetically arranged list of headings consisting of the personal names, places, and subjects treated in a written work, with page numbers to refer the reader to the point in the text at which information pertaining to the heading is found.1  A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.3  Examples of this type of publication are Biography Index and New York Times Index.1

Information literacy – Skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide, and knowledge of commonly used research techniques.  The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information content and employ it effectively, as well as an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact.1

Interlibrary loan – A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library.3  The library from which materials are borrowed is in a different library system than your own library.

Internet – A worldwide network of computer networks that allows for the transmission and exchange of files.3  It also allows users to communicate via email, find information on the World Wide Web, and access remote computer systems such as online catalogs and electronic databases easily and effortlessly.1

Intralibrary loan – The loan of an item by a library to another library within the same library system.1

Invisible Web – The part of the World Wide Web “invisible” to tools such as Google.  Consequently, these tools do not find information on this part of the Web.

Issue – One of a series of publications that appear at regular time intervals, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.  Examples are a magazine issue or a journal issue.


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Journal – A periodical devoted to disseminating original research and commentary on current developments within a specific discipline, subdiscipline, or field of study, usually published in quarterly, bimonthly, or monthly issues sold by subscription.  Journal articles are usually written by the person (or persons) who conducted the research.1  A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports.3  An example is the Journal of Bacteriology.

Journal title – The name of a journal.3


Keywords – Significant or memorable words or terms in the title, abstract, or text of an information resource that indicate its subject and are often used as search terms.3  The information resource could be a book, video, or article.  Keywords are used to search a library catalog and article databases.

Keyword anywhere – A type of database search in which a significant word or phrase can be in any of the fields of the database’s records.  These fields include title, subject, abstract, source, and text.


Librarians – Professionally trained persons responsible for the care of a library and its contents, including the selection, processing, and organization of materials and the delivery of information, instruction, and loan services to meet the needs of its users.1  In the United States, librarians have a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.  Librarians employed at a college or university frequently must have a second master’s degree.  Reference librarians work at the reference desk, provide bibliographic instruction, maintain the library collection of information resources, liaise with faculty across campus, and perform other important duties.

Library vs. Extended Learning Center (ELC) – Library.  The library supports and supplements the courses taught at Lone Star College – Montgomery.  This means that the library faculty members teach classes about the library’s resources and how to efficiently and effectively use them so you waste as little time as possible finding the information you need.  It also means the library’s collection of information resources (e.g., books, journals, videos) provides additional explanations, perspectives, and details about the topics you are taught in class to help give you a broader and clearer understanding of those topics.  ELC.  The ELC offers free tutoring, access to computer hardware and software, workshops, and professionally facilitated study groups.  Tutoring and specialized computer software are offered in subjects such as allied health (e.g., nursing, radiologic technology), business, computers, math, sciences, reading, writing, and languages, including American Sign Language.  Other software includes programming languages, keyboarding tutorials, and a variety of products from Microsoft, Adobe, and Macromedia.

Library card vs. Student ID – Library card.  A small paper or plastic card issued by a library to a registered borrower that must be presented at the circulation desk in order to check out materials from its collection.  Identification is usually required of new applicants.  In most libraries in the United States, library cards are barcoded for electronic circulation.1  Student ID.  The photo identification card available to Lone Star College – Montgomery students.  When activated, the student ID also serves as a library card.  The 14-digit barcode number on the back of the card also allows remote access to the library’s article databases.  You can also add money to your student ID so it will serve as a debit card you can use to pay for printing in either the library or the ELC.

Library catalogSee Catalog.

Library collection – The total accumulation of books and other materials owned by a library, cataloged and arranged for ease of access, which often consists of several smaller collections (reference collection, circulating collection, serials, government documents, rare books, special collections, etc.).1

Limiters; limiting a search – Limiters are options used in searching that restrict your results to only information resources meeting certain other, non-subject-related, criteria.  Limiting options vary by database, but common options include limiting results to materials available full-text in the database, to scholarly publications, to materials written in a particular language, to materials available in a particular location, or to materials published at a specific time.3  Materials can also be limited to a particular format, such as DVD.


Magazine – A publication, issued on a regular basis, containing popular articles, written and illustrated in a less technical manner than the articles found in a journal.3


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Narrow a search – Using various ways to reduce the number of results retrieved when searching a library catalog or article databases.  These ways include limiting the publication date, adding keywords to the search using the Boolean operators AND or NOT, using a proximity operator, and using field codes.

Newspaper – A serial publication, usually printed on newsprint and issued daily, on certain days of the week, or weekly, containing news, editorial comment, regular columns, letters to the editor, cartoons, advertising, and other items of current and often local interest to a general readership.1


OPAC – Online Public Access Catalog.  See Catalog.


Paperback – A book published in paper covers, rather than in hardcover, usually adhesive bound.  Paperback editions are normally published after the hardcover edition of the same title and sold at a lower price.1

PDF – Portable Document Format; a file format.

Peer-reviewed journal – A journal that requires an article to be subjected to a process of critical evaluation by one or more experts on the subject, known as referees, responsible for determining if the subject of the article falls within the scope of the publication and for evaluating originality, quality of research, clarity of presentation, etc.1  Peer-reviewed journals are also called refereed or scholarly journals.3

Periodical – An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually).  Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.3  They are also serials.

Plagiarism – Copying or closely imitating the work of another writer, composer, etc., without permission and with the intention of passing the results off as original work.1

Primary source – In scholarship, a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic, used in preparing a derivative work.  Primary sources include original manuscripts, articles reporting original research or thought, diaries, memoirs, letters, journals, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, songs, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, etc.1

Print card – Here at Lone Star College – Montgomery, this is a plastic card to which money can be added so the card can be used to pay for either printing or photocopying.

Proximity operator – A proximity operator can be included in a search of article databases to specify that records will be retrieved only if the keywords typed as search terms appear within a designated number of words of each other or within the same sentence or paragraph.1  Proximity operators are database-specific and include “n” for near and “w” for within.


Records – The main units that comprise a database.  For example, in article databases, each article is a record.  Each record is composed of fields that can be searched with field codes.

Refereed journalSee Peer-reviewed journal.

Reference collection – Books not meant to be read cover to cover, such as dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias, shelved together by call number in a special section of the library called the reference stacks.  Reference books may not be checked out because they are needed by librarians to answer questions at the reference desk.  Their location and circulation status is usually indicated by the symbol “R” or “Ref” preceding the call number in the catalog record and on the spine label.1

Reference desk – A desk usually located near the reference collection and staffed by reference librarians who help people find the information they need and explain how to use the library and its resources.

Reference librarians – Professionally trained librarians whose duties include providing service at the reference desk, performing collection development, providing bibliographic instruction, and other important functions.

Remote access – The ability to log onto (or access) networked computer resources from a distant location.  Remote access makes available library databases to students researching from home, office, or other locations outside the library.3

Renewal – An extension of the loan period for a book or other item, usually for the length of the normal borrowing period.1

Research databases – At Lone Star College – Montgomery, these are huge collections of the electronic version of reputable magazine, journal, newspaper, and encyclopedia articles and other document types.  Over 100 such databases are available.

Research guides – Printed or online resources that provide detailed information, instructions, and advice concerning the best strategies, techniques, and resources for research in a subject or field of study.1  At Lone Star College – Montgomery, these are online handouts primarily aimed at students.  The handouts offer information on a variety of topics.  For example, they might provide a representative list of library resources about a subject such as economics, give tips or instructions about performing a task such as accessing article databases from home, compare particular resources such as consumer and scholarly publications, or show how to cite information resources in a specific bibliographic style such as APA or MLA.

Reserves – In academic libraries, materials given a shorter loan period (one-hour, three-hour, overnight, three-day, etc.) for a limited length of time (usually one term or semester) at the request of the instructor, to ensure that all the students enrolled in a course have an opportunity to use them.1

Results list – A series of information sources (e.g., books, videos, articles) retrieved when searching an electronic resource such as a library catalog or article databases.


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Scholarly journalSee Journal and Peer-reviewed journal.

Secondary source – Any published or unpublished work that is one step removed from the original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, derived from, or based on primary source materials, for example, a review, critical analysis, second-person account, or biographical or historical study.1

Serials – Publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers that are generally published multiple times per year, month, or week.3

Spine label – A small typed or printed label affixed to the lower spine of a book or other bibliographic item at the time it is processed, displaying its location symbol and call number, for use in reshelving and to assist the user in retrieving the item from the shelf once the call number has been found in the library catalog.1

Stacks – Shelves in the library where materials?typically books?are stored.  Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number.  May be referred to as “book stacks.”3

Student IDSee Library card vs. Student ID

Subject heading – The most specific word or phrase that describes the subject, or one of the subjects, of a work [e.g., book, video], selected from a list of preferred terms (controlled vocabulary).1

Subject search – Searching information resources such as a library catalog or research database for works (e.g., book, video, article) with the search terms in their subject.  A search restricted to the subject field.  See Fields.


Title search – Searching information resources such as a library catalog or research database for works (e.g., book, video, article) with the search terms in their title.  A search restricted to the title field.  See Fields.

Truncation – A database-search technique that allows you to search for records that contain variations of the search term to which truncation was applied.  For example, distribut* will look for records that contain variations of the term distribute.  These variations include distribute, distributes, distributed, distributing, distributor, distributors, distribution, and distributions.  Note that these eight variations all have this initial string of nine letters in common: d-i-s-t-r-i-b-u-t.  So, the truncation symbol?the asterisk in this case?is applied to distribute after this shared, common string of letters.  Truncate means to shorten or cut off, so in this case, the e in distribute was cut off to shorten the term to the common string of nine letters and then replaced with the asterisk.


Upload – To transmit a copy of one or more files from a local computer to the hard disk of another (usually more remote) computer, such as a mainframe or network server, a process that may require terminal emulation software.  The opposite of download.1  To transfer information from a networked computer to the network’s server.


Wildcard – A database-search technique that allows the user to insert a special character in the middle of a search term in a keyword(s) search, to retrieve records or sites containing words with any character or no character in the position.  The wildcard symbol is not standardized.1  For example, the question mark (?) and the pound sign (#) are the wildcard characters in the EBSCO databases available to students at Lone Star College – Montgomery.

World-Wide Web – A global network of Internet servers providing access to documents written in a script called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that allows content to be interlinked, locally and remotely.1  A network of information, as a part of the Internet, that includes text, graphics, sounds, and moving images.  Also known as the Web or WWW or W3.  It incorporates a variety of Internet tools into one method of access, such as the Web browser Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox.3

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Resources Consulted

1Dictionary for Library and Information Science, by Joan M. Reitz, REF Z1006 .R45 2004

2Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, REF PE1628 .M36 2008

3Multilingual Glossary, Association of College & Research Libraries. 


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