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Glossary of Library Terms

Use the glossary for terms you are unfamiliar with in library records or assignments. This glossary includes information specific to the Albin O. Kuhn Library of UMBC as well as general library terms. Terms not found can be looked up in the Online Dictionary of Library Terms (Joan M. Reitz, 2006) or you can ask the librarian at the Reference desk.

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An abstract is a short summary of the content of a work such as an article, book, or dissertation. Abstracts can be found at the head of scholarly articles in journals, in print indexes and bibliographies and, in online databases.

Abstracting Journal
A periodical that indexes and publishes abstracts of new works, usually in a specific field of research. Dissertation Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, and Biological Abstracts are some well known examples. In the Kuhn library, the Abstracts and Indexes area on the first floor holds the volumes of Abstracting Journals not converted to electronic format (i.e. databases).

General term meaning both how to connect online (i.e. 'how do you access the WWW?') and having permission to use a resource (i.e. 'only UMBC affiliates have off-campus access to databases').

Acronym for the Association for Computing Machinery; a professional society for computer scientists. UMBC affiliates have online access to journals and conference papers from the ACM Digital Library on campus and off campus through Research Port.

Acquisitions is the department in the library responsible for making purchases for the collections.

Acronym for the American Chemical Society; a professional society and major publisher in all areas of chemistry. ACS journals are available to UMBC affiliates on campus and off campus through Research Port.

Annotated bibliography / Annotation
Annotations are brief notes associated with articles or texts. Unlike abstracts, which are factual and objective, annotations can be subjective and critical. An annotated bibliography is a list of works with notes explaining the relevance of the work to the topic. The Cornell University library provides a helpful guide to producing an annotated bibliography.

Acronym for American Psychological Association; a professional society and major publisher of journals in psychology. APA journal articles are available to UMBC affiliates through print subscriptions and online through the Ebsco database PsycArticles.

APA style
A popular citation style developed by the APA for their publications, now standard in many social science courses for research papers. The Kuhn library provides an online APA Style Guide with print copies available at the Reference desk.

Generally both the documents and records of a person, organization, institution, business, or government and the place that houses them. In the Kuhn Library, the Special Collections Dept. houses the UMBC Archives, original copies of UMBC dissertations and theses, and various collections of personal papers and scientific societies' records.

Also referred to as a paper, brief, or document; an article is a nonfiction work on a specific topic published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Acronym for the American Society of Microbiology; the ASM is the oldest life sciences membership organization in the world. The archives of the ASM are housed at the Kuhn Library, and the book holdings appear in the catalog with the heading 'Special Collections - American Society for Microbiology'.

The process of identifying an individual as a legitimate user of a computer or electronic resource, usually by a username and password. UMBC affiliates have usernames and passwords for e-mail and on campus computer use. Off campus authentication is done by last name and the 14-digit barcode found on each person's UMBC ID card.

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Barcode Number
The 14-digit number printed on your UMBC ID card. If you lose your card, your barcode number is included in MyUMBC under Personal > View My Campus Information.

Bibliographic Instruction (BI)
Instruction sessions to familiarize users with the library and its resources. BI sessions usually include an overview of the library's organization, the catalog, as well as accessing discipline specific databases and resources. Increasingly, BI is part of a larger program of Information Literacy. The Kuhn Library has a dedicated BI room (rm.259) and faculty can request BI sessions for individual classes.

In an article, book, thesis or dissertation, the bibliography is the list of the sources of information used in its production. More generally, a bibliography is any list of works on a subject produced as an aid for finding information.

Boolean Searching
Formal term for using the operators 'AND', 'OR', and 'NOT' in database searches to broaden or focus search results. Most databases will use AND as the default operator for terms with options for using the others.

Software for accessing the World Wide Web. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox are browsers installed on the Kuhn Library computers. Safari is the default browser for Apple computers.

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Call Number
The set of letters and numbers on each item that gives its location in the library. The Kuhn Library uses the Library of Congress classification system. Call numbers for the books that can be checked out, called the circulating collection begin with A on the 7th floor down to Z on the 3rd floor.

Also referred to as a card catalog (quickly becoming obsolete) or OPAC, the library catalog is a searchable database of records of material held by an institution or system. The University System of Maryland CatalogUSMAI contains the records of the 17 campus libraries of the USM and affiliated institutions. The catalog contains search fields for author, title, publisher, date of publication, subject(s), and call number, and will give the location and availability of items held by the participating libraries. USMAI affiliates can use the catalog to borrow books within the USMAI system.

Circulation Desk
The Circulation Desk is where any circulating media are checked out, renewed, or returned, and overdue fines paid. In the Kuhn library, material on reserve and books ordered through Interlibrary Loan can also be picked up at the Circulation desk. The Circulation Department can also help patrons locate material and help with questions about their accounts.

A reference acknowledging the source of information, quotes, or other data used in a written work. Citations can be done as author/date in-text (e.g. APA style), or as numerical footnotes or endnotes. Citations refer to specific passages in the text. The source of the citation is then included in the bibliography.

Citation Styles
Citation styles dictate how and where citations should be placed in the body of a paper, and the order in which the information should be recorded in the bibliography. Popular citation styles in the arts and social sciences include APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian; in the sciences ACS and CBE. The library provides an online guide to citation styles.

Legal term for a creator's exclusive right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute original work (literary, musical, artistic, etc.). For an overview of copyright law and libraries, including fair use practices for course reserves and Blackboard, see the ALA Copyright page.

Course Reserves
Books and articles for specific courses placed on restricted access by faculty. Check-out times for print reserves can vary from 'in-library use only' to several days. Electronic reserves, available online, are restricted by password which will be supplied each term by the instructor. The Circulation Dept. maintains the list of current reserves online and in print at the Circulation Desk.

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Also electronic database; a generic term for a descriptive collection of records with consistent fields that can be searched or otherwise manipulated. In libraries, these are often the electronic versions of print indexes, abstracting journals, bibliographies, and journal or newspaper backfiles. The Kuhn Library provides affiliates with access to subject and interdisciplinary databases many of which provide both a citation and electronic access to an html or pdf copy of the documents indexed.

In subject-specific databases (e.g. ERIC, PSYCINFO) descriptors are standardized significant content words or terms used as a supplement or alternate to subject headings. Databases that use them often supply an online thesaurus to clarify definitions and provide uniform spelling of descriptors.

Digital Collections
Collections of materials that have been scanned or otherwise electronically transcribed and made accessible on the Web or other media (CD, DVD). At the Kuhn Library, selected portions of the photography collections are available for viewing.

Document Delivery
Borrowing or obtaining copies of material not held by the library. At the Kuhn Library, the Interlibrary Loan Dept. is responsible for overseeing document delivery.

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Common term for a text that has been digitized. In the USMAI catalog, e-book records are the same as the records for printed books with an added line for the internet link (URL)to access the text. To search the catalog for titles that are available online, select 'e-book' from the format menu in the catalog's advanced search.

E-journals are the electronic equivalent of paper journals, available on the internet to subscribers. Publishers can offer subscriptions to journals in print, as e-journals, or both (as the Kuhn library does both). The E-Journals search via Research Port provides links to currently held titles.

Ebsco Publishing is one of the major vendors to the Kuhn Library, providing almost 40 subject and multidisciplinary datases through the Ebsco Host platform. Searching can be done in individual databases or across multiple databases. In order to avoid confusion, it is useful to understand the distinction between a database vendor (e.g. Ebsco) and a database provided by a vendor (e.g. Academic Search Premier).

The citation style that uses numbers in the text to refer to citations listed at the end of the body of the paper (cf. footnote).

A citation software package used for the storing and management of large numbers of citations. EndNote Basic, a browser-based version of EndNote is also available to UMBC affiliates as part of our subscription to Web of Science.

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Fair Use
Exceptions to the copyright laws allowing limited duplication of copyrighted material. See Copyright.

Acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. The Kuhn Library FAQ page answers questions commonly asked at the reference desk.

A standard data entry or search point in a database. In the catalog, default fields are title, author, or subject. In a database the default fields could be keyword, author, title, subject or descriptor.

Find It
Seen in article databases and the catalog, the find it button in a record provides links to electronic resources and other access options. Find it searches for links to online full-text (if available) print holdings of journals available in the Kuhn Library, books in any of the USM libraries, or a link to the Interlibrary Loan request page if these options are unsuccessful.

The citation style that uses numbers in the text to refer to citations listed at the bottom of each page of text. (cf. endnote).

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Government Documents
Any publication, print or electronic, produced by federal, state, or local government. In the Kuhn Library, the government documents collection is part of the reference collection on the first floor and contains Federal and Maryland publications. Federal publications appear in the catalog. State documents can be searched for in the Maryland State Documents Search (UMBC).

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Popular term for availability in print rather than electronic of other format.

Placing a request for an item found in the catalog. For USM affiliates, holds are placed through the catalog using the request button found in each catalog record or the find It menu. UMBC affiliates can place holds for material not in the Kuhn Library to be sent from any USM library, and for material held at the Kuhn Library but currently on loan. Material on hold is picked up at the Circulation Desk. The status of requests can be tracked through the My Account function of the catalog.

When speaking about a library or a collection in a library, the holdings are the total of all material held ('the Kuhn Library added the one millionth volume to its holdings on the campus's 40th anniversary'). When speaking about an individual publication, the copies owned by the library, expressed as an issue number/date range and including the format (e.g. Time magazine: v.1(1923)- v.91(1968)- Hardcopy; v.105(1975)-v.156(2000); v.159(2002)-v.162(Jan. 5,2004) Microfilm).

Home Page [or homepage]
Variously, the default page your browser displays on startup or the primary page of a business, institution, or person providing information and further links as necessary. The Kuhn library homepage is a link off of the UMBC homepage.

Acronym for Hypertext Markup Language, the programming language used in the creation of Web pages.

Acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protcol, the communications protocol that allows browser software on individual computers to exchange data files in HTML format with servers over the Internet.

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A guide to the contents of a file, document, or book, also, a guide to the contents of a specific title (i.e. New York Times Index) or collection of titles (i.e. Readers Guide to Periodical Literature) . In the Kuhn Library, the print indexes are shelved on the first floor next to the reference desk. Subject indexes to periodicals have a standard citation format and may or may not include descriptive abstracts. Databases are the online successors to print indexes and often have the same names.

Information Literacy
Competence in locating, evaluating, and effectively using needed information. The Information Literacy Program at UMBC is coordinated by the Kuhn Library.

Intellectual Property
Umbrella term for original ideas of all sorts: inventions, literary and artistic works, images, designs, slogans, etc. Creators are protected from unauthorized use of their ideas by Copyright, Patent and Trademark laws. Oversight of international intellectual property treaties and dispute resolution is the function of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
The Interlibrary Loan Department is responsible for all forms of document delivery and the borrowing/lending of books and media not available in the USM system. ILL links are part of the find It system in the catalog and databases and an ILL Request From is available for requesting books and articles directly.

Popular term for anything online. Technically, the internet is the global network of computers at academic, commercial, and government organizations using a common communications protocol to host the variety of resources that make up the worldwide web.

Acronymn for International Standard Book Number, the 10- (soon to be 13) digit number that uniquely identifies a book. In the library catalog, the ISBN is a searchable field in the Browse search. Coordinated by the Library of Congress, the ISBN program allows publishers to purchase blocks of ISBN numbers with assigned prefixes but anyone can apply for an ISBN for a self-published work.

Acronym for Internet Service Provider. Any organization or company that provides online access.

Acronymn for International Standard Serial Number, the unique 8-digit identifier for serials (i.e. journals, magazines, newspapers, annuals, etc.). As with ISBNs, the ISSN is be a searchable field in the Library catalog, in both the Journals search and Browse search. Further information about ISSNs is found at the LOC's US ISSN Center page.

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The terms journal, magazine, serial and periodical are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. Journals contain articles written by scholars, scientists or other professionals, usually published after peer review, for the same sort of audience. Magazines contain articles written by journalists, for a general audience. Both are periodicals (published at set intevals, i.e. weely, monthly, quarterly, etc.) and serials (published regularly, with no set end date), but these terms have no bearing on content. In the Kuhn Library, all the periodical holdings are on the second floor, arranged alphabetically by title.

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Keyword Searching
The default search in most databases. This option allows the user to enter a significant word or phrase without limiting to any particular field. The results are all records where the search term appears whether in title, author, abstract, notes, subject headings, descriptors, etc. depending on the database. In the libary catalog, the 'all fields' word search is the equivalent.

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Library Gallery
The Kuhn Library has an exhibition gallery located directly to the left of the security desk on the first floor of the Library. The Gallery hosts in-house and traveling exhibitions of many types and serves as a venue for lectures and events sponsored by the University community.

Library of Congress (LC)
Located in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress was established in 1800 to function as a research library for the legislative branch of the federal government, eventually becoming the unofficial national library of the United States. LC is the primary source of original cataloging in the U.S., oversees the assignment of standard book and standard serial numbers, and is the primary copyright depository for the United States.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
Standardized descriptive terms assigned to books as they are cataloged and one of the primary search fields in the catalog. Maintained and updated by the Library of Congress, the multi-volume print set of headings is available at the Reference desk. An online version, the Library of Congress Authorities also allows users to search for standardized spellings of names and titles as well as subject headings.

Literature Review
A literature review is an essay, or introductory matter in a thesis or dissertation, that provides an overview and analysis of the development of a field of study through the published books, articles, essays, and commentary associated with it. Literature reviews can be done in a variety of ways: chronological, thematic, by publication, etc. The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides a concise guide to developing a literature review.

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Common term for a periodical intended for a general, rather than scholarly, audience. See Journal for additional information.

In archives, manuscript collections are unpublished documents (e.g. letters, diaries, business records, research notes, etc.) from a common source (e.g. person, business, organization). More commonly, a manuscript is the original copy of an author's work as opposed to later published copies. In the Kuhn Library, manuscripts and personal papers collections are held in the Special Collections Department.

Technically, the plural of 'medium,' referring to any material or format that holds or hosts information. In the Kuhn Library, Library Media, located on the second floor, holds the collections of recorded music, films, documentaries, lectures, etc. available on video and audio cassette, cd and dvd. In the catalog, media holdings show as 'UMBC Library Media Stacks'.

Any document that has been photographed, reduced in size and reproduced on durable film stock, a popular method of reducing the amount of space necessary for holding large collections of newspapers, journals or government documents, as well as allowing wide access to possibly fragile material without harming the original. The most common types of microforms are microfilm (stored on reels) and microfiche (individual sheets about the size of an index card.) Both types require readers that magnify the microform so it can be read and/or printed. In the Kuhn Library, the Reference Department on the first floor, and the Serials Department on the second floor, have a variety of resources on both types of microform. Microform reader-printers are available on the second floor.

A work on a specific topic published as a discrete item; generally, a book or any item treated as a book as opposed to an article or essay in a periodical.

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National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
The National Archives of the United States. Established to oversee the management of all federal records, including the public's right of access to documents and information not specifically exempted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Its collections include materials from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches including documents, film, sound recordings, maps, etc. The primary NARA facility is on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park.

Material in any format other than print-on-paper, usually referring to microfilm or microfiche, but can also include resources on tape, cd, or other electronic formats.

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Acronym for the Online Computer Library Center; a major database vendor for the Kuhn Library and the primary supplier of catalog records for a majority of the academic libraries in the U.S. Participating OCLC member libraries share catalog records, downloading existing records and uploading original records for new works, and use the holdings information for interlibrary loan functions. A searchable, web-based version of the cataloging database Worldcat, useful for finding material not held in the USM system is available to UMBC affiliates, and a free version of it is now available to the public at the page.

Acronym for Online Public Access Catalog. See Catalog

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Peer Review
The process that distinguishes academic and scholarly journals from other periodicals. Articles submitted to peer-reviewed journals are sent for review to established scholars in the field who may suggest improvements or revisions, or reject an article entirely. Only after an article is acceptable to the reviewers will the journal publish it.

A publication produced at set intervals: daily, weekly, monthly, annually, etc. See Journal.

The act of taking another's words or ideas and using them as your own; literary theft. [OED 2006] In practice, direct copying, paraphrasing, or using data without properly citing the source is plagiarism.

Primary Source
In the research process, primary sources are the original contemporary accounts (e.g. letters, diaries, journals, newspapers, government documents, photographs, interviews, etc.) from which information is derived. Compare to Secondary Source

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Ready Reference
In the Kuhn Library, selected titles from the Reference collection held at the Reference Desk for quick retrieval. In the catalog, these items have a regular reference call number but the collection appears as 'Reference - Ready Reference.'

Requesting items currently on loan. In the USM libraries, items currently checked-out by one user can be requested by another before the regular due date provided there are no other copies available. Borrowers of recalled items have a two week grace period to return the requested item before fines are assessed. See Hold.

If used with a lower case (r), a synonym for a citation; otherwise, the non-circulating dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, atlases, government documents, et al, that make up the Reference collection and the staff of Reference librarians who answer questions at the Reference desk, located in the Kuhn Library on the first floor.

Extending the length of the loan period for an item. USM affiliates may renew their books through the catalog by logging in to the My Account function, choosing the 'Items borrowed / renewals' and following the instructions.

See Course Reserves.

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Search Engine
A computer program designed to search documents or websites for keywords or terms and return results ranked according to specified criteria (relevancy, date, etc.) Google, Yahoo, and Bing are examples of popular search engines.

Secondary Source
In the research process, secondary sources are published books and articles written from (unpublished) primary sources. Secondary sources must be cited in the bibliography of your paper to avoid charges of plagiarism.

A publication produced on a regular schedule, with no set last issue. See Journal

In a research context, any material that provides information that is not the product of the author's original work. See Primary source and Secondary source

General term for areas where collections are shelved. For example, in the Kuhn Library, catalog records that read 'Stacks' refer to the circulating collection on floors 3-7, 'Serials Stacks' are the current and bound issues of periodicals on the second floor, etc.

Standardized words or phrases assigned to books and articles to assist in searching for works on similar topics. Also called descriptors or index terms. In the catalog, books are assigned Library of Congress Subject Headings.

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In subject specific databases, the thesaurus is a guide to descriptors or subjects assigned to records.

A function in some databases that allows the insertion of a symbol (# ? $ !, etc.) called a wildcard, in the middle or at the end of the word to search for all variations of spelling or related words. For example, truncating medic# will return medical, medicine, medicinal, and all other words beginning with whatever preceeds the symbol. Similarly, using the symbol in the middle of a word can help with problems of correct spelling (f?int will return faint, feint).

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University Archives
Documents, publications, records, photographs, and any other material produced or generated by the administration, faculty, students, or other affiliates of UMBC. See Archives

Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, the proper name for a web address, usually in the form of http://host.subdomain.domain (i.e.

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Short form of the name of the World Wide Web, the common user interface that allows communication within the network of servers that form the Internet.

Web site
Also website; a file of related webpages consisting of text and graphics linked through hypertext and access through a unique adress see URL.

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