Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Library Glossary: Home

What are Periodicals? What's a Subject Heading? Find out in the Library Glossary

Library Terms

Abstract - a brief summary of a book, chapter, or article. 

Access point - a name, term, code, etc., under which library materials may be searched and identified. In an online storage and retrieval system, a field designated as a means of access to a record or file. Example: Author’s name, Title of book 

Annotation - a note accompanying an entry in a bibliography, reading list, or catalog describing, explaining, or evaluating the publication. 

Anthology - a collection of the works of various authors, musicians, or artists, sometimes limited to a particular subject. 

Bibliography - a list of books, articles, and/or documents related to a particular author or a specific subject. 

Biography - a source that provides information about a person’s life or accomplishments.

Boolean - refers to logical or algebraic operations formulated by George Boole involving variables with two concepts. This includes the use of the words AND, OR, and NOT when searching for specific information, such as Concept 1 AND Concept 2, Concept 1 OR Concept 2, Concept 1 NOT Concept 2. 

Bound periodical - several issues of a print magazine or journal, held together in one volume. 

Call number - a designated set of letters and/or numbers used to identify a particular item in the collection. The call number groups books together by subject. 

Catalog - see Online catalog 

Check out - to borrow library materials for use outside of the library. 

Citation - a reference note that generally includes elements necessary for the identification of a work (i.e., author, title, and date of publication for a book; author, title, name of periodical, volume number, date, and pages for an article). 

Circulation/Reserve Desk - the place in the library where materials are borrowed and returned, specified Reserve materials are held, and overdue fines are paid.

Curriculum Collection - a collection of materials supporting teaching in the K-12 classroom. 

Database - an organized collection of computer records, standardized in format and content, that is searched and retrieved by computer. Commonly used in libraries to refer to collections of searchable article citations, with may also include full text articles. 

Descriptor - an indexing term or symbol used to designate the subject of a work. Descriptors can usually be used when searching in databases. 

Dictionary - a book or online database containing words with information about their meaning, form, pronunciation, usage, and etymology. 

Due Date - the day that borrowed materials must be returned to the library.

Encyclopedia - a collection of informational articles providing background, terminology, and chronological events related to a particular subject. 

Fine - a fee charged for an item returned to the library after the due date. 

Hold - a library book already checked out and/or available at another library can be put on hold for the use of another borrower. 

Index - an alphabetical or systematic arrangement of terms used as a guide to the contents of a book, periodical articles, or group of documents. 

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) - a service which provides books or journal articles not found at SCSU for students, faculty, and staff of SCSU. 

Journal - a periodical containing scholarly or expert level articles and reports on research in a particular field of study. 

Juvenile - a collection of books for children, supporting teaching in the K-12 classroom. Generally, any materials for children.

Keyword - the use of a significant word or combination of words when searching the book catalog or journal databases to help find a book or article on a topic. 

Library Instruction - the teaching of concepts and processes to help students develop the ability to locate, evaluate, and use information to become independent life-long learners. 

Librarian - a degreed professional who specializes in finding, evaluating, and teaching the use of information resources. 

Loan period - the length of time allowed for the use of an item checked out of the library. 

Magazine - a periodical for general reading, containing articles on hot topics and/or current events written by journalists and free-lance writers. 

Microforms - a general term used for information that has been micro-photographed onto a piece of film. Microfilm is held on a reel, microfiche is on a flat sheet of film. 

Non-circulating materials - items that must be used within the library, such as reference books and bound periodicals. 

Online catalog - an automated database of records describing and locating the materials (books, videos, music cds, print journals, and selected digital resources) contained in the library collection. Searching can be conducted by author, title, keyword, and subject. 

Overdue materials - items not returned to the library by the due date. 

Oversize - a book too large to fit in its normal shelf space and therefore placed in a designated area of the library marked "Oversize". 

Peer review - a process of ensuring the quality of an article prior to publication in a journal, where the article is sent out by the editor of the journal to be read and commented on by experts in a given field of study. 

Periodical - a magazine, journal, or newspaper published several times a year (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). 

Primary source - documents containing firsthand information (used in the preparation of a later work.) Diaries, letters, and research reports are examples of primary sources. 

Rare book room - a separate collection of irreplaceable, fragile and/or valuable materials on a specific subject, time period, or event. Use of materials may be limited, and may require an appointment. 

Refereed journal - a journal comprised of articles that have been approved for publication through the peer review process. 

Reference books - resources containing factual information, designed to be consulted rather than read cover-to-cover. Examples include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, and statistical sources. 

Renew - to extend the loan period of library materials. 

Research & Information Desk - the service desk in the library staffed by librarians, where anyone can ask how to find, use, and evaluate information. The Research & Information Desk is also accessible by phone and email.

Reserves - readings for class assignments available either in the library (at the Circulation/Reserve Desk) or electronically through SouthernSearch.

Secondary source - any material other than the original document (generally used in the preparation of a written work.) 

SouthernSearch - the name of the Library's online catalog. SouthernSearch is a shared catalog with the four CSU libraries – SCSU, CCSU, WCSU, and ECSU – the Community Colleges, Charter Oak State College, and also the State Library in Hartford, showing the books, videos, music cds, print journals, and selected digital resources owned by each library. 

Stacks - the general collection of books that can be borrowed.

Subject heading - a specific word or words used as an access point to a bibliographic record in the online catalog; also a word or words used to identify topics in a book or periodical index. 

Thesaurus - a list of terms showing similarities, differences, dependencies, and other relationships to each other. Thesaurus terms are used in a specific database to help search by topic. 

Truncation - to shorten or cut off a word or phrase in order to retrieve varied endings of the word. An example is “librar” in order to search for the terms library, libraries, and librarian. 

Unbound periodical - a paper issue of a journal of magazine. 

Volume - the collective issues of a journal of magazine, often identified by number or year.

Customized from The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science by Susan Miller 6/06; Updated by Wendy Hardenberg 2/19

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Research Librarian

You may also contact individual librarians via the One-on-one Instruction Request form.

Research & Information Desk
1st Floor, Buley Library
txt: (203) 490-0756