Glossary of Library Terminology

This glossary will list and define a number of terms used in this guide. As you read the pages in this guide, some terms will be linked to this page to provide further details on their meaning and usage.

The part of an academic article that summarizes the contents of an article. It is usually found at the beginning of an article.

List that contains the sources that were cited/referenced in a paper. Usually located at the end of the article, chapter, or book. Also called Works Cited, or References page.

Terms (AND, OR, and NOT) that are used in between keywords and phrases when doing research to help create broader (OR) or more narrow (AND, NOT) searches.

Groups of letters and numbers that are used to identify and locate physical items (books, movies, newspapers, etc.) in a library building.

TIP: How to read a call number

PN           ← top line is to be read alphabetically ( example: PM comes before PN)
6112        ← second line is read numerically (example: 6110 comes before 6112)
.G675      ← third line is read alphabetically, then numerically (ex: .F96 comes before .G67)
2002       ← fourth line is the year the book was published, arranged chronologically

A reference to another source of information. The most common citation types are in-text citations (used in MLA, APA) and footnotes (used in Chicago).

Also known as attribution, citation refers to the steps taken to reference a source of information. These steps and rules vary from one citation style to another.

Accepting information as true because it conforms or supports our existing beliefs or expectations.

In a library or research context, a database refers to research resources that contain different types of resources, usually academic articles.

Information, usually false, that is purposely created and disseminated to cause harm.

Common phrase seen in research databases. This option allows you to limit search results to those that let you see or download a full article.

ILL refers to the sharing of materials, both physical and digital, between libraries. This is a common service in libraries that gives you access to a larger number of research resources. Know that not every item can be obtained through ILL.

Words or phrases that are unique to a particular field of study. These words tend to have different meanings in different fields.

A publication that is released on a regular basis, which contains a number of articles about a specific topic.

Words that represent the main concepts in a research question or search query.

A section of an academic article that provides an overview of the academic research on a particular topic or field of study. A literature review often appears towards the beginning of an article.

Information, usually false, that is disseminated without an intention to cause harm.

Digital barrier that can be encountered when accessing academic information that your library does not have a subscription to. If you are asked to pay for an article, contact a librarian first.

A first-hand account of a situation or event or any original information source before it has been analyzed. Oftentimes, a primary source tells you what was being said about a topic at the time it took place. Examples include, among others, data sets, empirical research, literary and art works, speeches, diaries, memoirs, historical newspapers, eyewitness reports (interviews, photographs), social media posts.

The combination of keywords, search terms, and search (Boolean) operators that are entered into a search box when conducting research.

Secondary sources often provide interpretation or analysis of events after they have occurred. Examples include, among others, biographies, nonfiction books, editorials, literary criticism and reviews, scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, retweets.

A tertiary source is a collection of information which is meant to inform you with background knowledge and lead you to primary and secondary sources. Examples include, among others, wikipedia, encyclopedias, dictionaries, indexes, most traditional textbooks.