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A Glossary of Library Terms

  • Abstract: A summary of an article or dissertation. When available, an abstract can assist you in deciding whether an item will be useful for you.
  • Abstracting Service: A collection of abstracts in a particular field or on a particular subject provided to subscribers for a fee. Psychological Abstracts is an example.
  • Authentication: The process of identifying an individual by a computer, usually based on a username and password. To use many of the research databases from off-campus, you will have be authenticated as CSU student, faculty or staff.
  • Bibliography: A list of citations for books, articles and other resources on a particular subject. Some are published as books, while others are locally produced lists. The list of references at the end of a research paper is also called a bibliography.
  • Bound Periodical: When the library has enough issues of a magazine or journal to bind together, the issues are sent to the bindery. They return weeks later as "bound periodicals" and are shelved on the north side of the fourth floor alphabetically by call number. Use SCHOLAR, the Library's online catalog to look up a journal's call number.
  • Call Number : A combination of letters and numbers that provides a unique identifier for an item. Call numbers are assigned according to a classification system. The Michael Schwartz Library assigns call numbers to its books, teaching materials, videos, sound recordings and other items it owns. See Understanding Call Numbers.
  • Catalog: A descriptive list of items that are owned by a particular library. For many years library catalogs were maintained on small cards and were called "card catalogs." Today, library catalogs are electronic information databases accessed by computer and called "online catalogs." SCHOLAR is the Michael Schwartz Library's online catalog. CSU borrowers can use SCHOLAR to search for materials, renew books, and review their own circulation records from home, office, or library.
  • Circulate: This is what it's called when a book is checked out. Most of the library material that is checked out can be taken from the building, but some such as reserve material must be used in the library. Other items may not circulate at all. Examples of Items that do not circulate are reference books and periodicals. See Borrowing Books & Other Materials.
  • Citation: The minimum amount of information needed to identify or to locate an item quickly and efficiently. A citation to a book should include the name of the author(s), book title, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication. A citation to a periodical article should include the name of the author(s), article title, periodical title, volume/issue number, date, and page number(s).
  • Classification System: A code consisting of letters and numbers used to arrange library materials by subject. The Michael Schwartz Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System.
  • Course Reserves: Materials which a professor has identified as being important to his/her course. They may include supplemental information such as tests or quiz files, homework, class notes, solution sets, or textbooks. Course reserves may also include required readings. Some course reserves may be available online while others must be checked out at the the Library and Research Help Desk or the Digital Design Studio. Course Reserve homepage.
  • Cross-Reference: A term used in catalogs, thesauruses and indexes to lead you from one form of entry to another (e.g., American poets see Poets--American).
  • Current Periodical: Issues of magazines or journals that are still loose (unbound). These are usually issues published in the last year. In the Michael Schwartz Library they are shelved along with the bound periodicals at the north end of the 4th floor.
  • Database: A collection of information stored in electronic format. It may be a collection of words, numbers, sounds, images, or video. Databases are usually created using special software that also enables users to search the database in order to retrieve information according to specific criteria. Research databases generally contain references to published information, such as articles that may have been published in a newspaper or magazine. Many research databases include full text. The Michael Schwartz Library subscribes to a number of research databases.
  • Due Date: The date when an item that has been checked out of the library must be returned. After the due date an item becomes overdue and a fine may be charged to the user. See Borrowing Books & Other Materials.
  • E-Book: An electronic version of a printed book that can be viewed or downloaded online using a personal computer, a hand-held device, or a special E-Book reader. Links to E-book sources.
  • E-Journals: A publication, often scholarly, that is accessible in a computerized format and distributed over the Internet. An electronic journal or e-journal may also be available in paper format. Journals at CSU lists all the e-journals and hardcopy journals that are available to the CSU community.
  • Fine: An amount of money charged to users who have lost or not returned library items they have borrowed by their due date. Students must pay any fines they owe before they are permitted to register for classes again. See Borrowing Books & Other Materials.
  • Full Text: Some research databases provide the complete contents or full text of an article along with the citation and abstract. The Library subscribes to a number of full-text research databases.
  • Government Documents: Information originating from a local, state, federal, or international governmental body and may include reports, maps, statistics, congressional data, tax information, and laws.
  • GPO: Stands for Government Printing Office, a federal department that publishes and distributes U.S. government documents to libraries throughout the country and internationally.
  • Holdings: The total stock of materials, print and nonprint, owned by a library. Also known as the library's collection. Can also refer to the copies, volumes, issues, or parts of a title owned by a library as shown in the online catalog.
  • Index: A research tool that lets you find information in periodicals, books and conference proceedings. Some indexes are general, pointing at information in a wide variety of sources, while others only look at the literature in one subject area. Indexes can be electronic or paper. An example of a subject-specific electronic index is Music Index. The word "index" is also used to describe what these resources do with a periodical.
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL): A service that allows you to use books and other materials not owned by your library. Find out more about ILL services at CSU.
  • Journal: A periodical by an academic or association press. A journal contains original research with articles that are signed by the authors and contain a bibliography. Journals are usually more scholarly than a magazine you buy in a store or a newsstand and are often peer-reviewed.
  • Keyword searching: Most online catalogs and research databases allow you to search by keyword(s). In this type of search, users enter a significant word or words that describe the research topic, and the catalog or database retrieves all records where the search terms appear.
  • Library of Congress (LC) Classification System: A system of letters and numbers used by the Library of Congress as well as many college libraries to arrange their collections by subject. The Michael Schwartz Library assigns Library of Congress call numbers to its books, teaching materials, videos, sound recordings and other items it owns. See Understanding Call Numbers.
  • Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH): This multi-volume set of "big red books" is an alphabetic guide to and list of the official subject headings used for searching in SCHOLAR, the Michael Schwartz Library's online catalog. They are located in the Reference area of the Library. Using Library of Congress Subject Headings in your search will provide you with more precise results than using keywords.
  • Magazine: A type of periodical that contains articles on popular topics aimed at general readers. Magazines are usually published weekly or monthly and generally contain advertising and color illustrations. The articles are shorter and less authoritative than those found in scholarly journals.
  • Media: Films, tapes, and other audio-visual materials that require the use of special listening or viewing equipment.
  • Microfiche, Microfilm, Microform: Reduced images of printed documents reproduced on photographic film. Libraries frequently replace the paper issues of periodicals with microform copies. Microfilm refers specifically to pieces of 35mm film wound onto plastic reels. Microfiche refers to flat pieces of film usually 4" x 6" in size. The term microform applies generally to any reduced image format that is on film or paper.
  • Overdue: The status of an item that has not been returned to the library by its due date. A fine may be charged to a user who does not return library material when it is due. See Borrowing Books & Other Materials.
  • Patron Record: Personal information about you as a library user; information may include your address, telephone number, and information about items you have checked out. This information is confidential, and is accessible only to you and authorized library staff. You can view your patron record by clicking on the My Account link at the right.
  • Peer-Reviewed: A process through which a research paper or other piece of writing is critically reviewed prior to publication, by individuals with in-depth knowledge of the authors' area of research or investigation, to ensure that the work under review is accurate, reliable, well-written, and worthy of publication; the process is generally guided by an editor who makes the final decision
  • Periodical: Any publication that is issued on a regular basis, usually at least twice a year. Magazines, scholarly journals, and newspapers are types of periodicals.
  • Primary Source: Original material, or material that describes an event by someone who witnessed it. Some examples of primary sources include newspaper articles written at the time an event occurred, original works (novels, poems, films, etc.), and first-hand accounts (interviews, diaries, memoirs, etc.)
  • Reference Books: Books that are consulted for their factual or background information on a topic and not meant to be read from cover to cover. Normally, reference books are used in the library only and are not charged out. A reference book may be a dictionary, encyclopedia, almanac, directory, or handbook. Staff at the Reference Center on the first floor frequently direct users to specific reference books.
  • Renewed: Means that a user has extended the original loan period for an item they have borrowed and that the item now has a new due date. Items may be renewed by phone or in person at the Library and Research Help Desk.
  • Secondary Source: Material that reports or comments on a primary source, event, or work. Some examples of secondary sources include journal and magazine articles, books, reviews, and commentaries.
  • Serials: Publications that appear regularly. In addition to periodicals, this term is often used to describe book series.
  • Stacks: The open shelf areas located on all floors of the library. See Library floor plans.
  • Style Manual: A book or web page that shows how materials used in research should be listed in a bibliography or Works Cited page. The most commonly used style manuals are those from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Links to style manuals on the Web.