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tamuct University Library


Library Terminology can be confusing because it incorporates many specialized terms. Understanding the jargon associated with using the library will enhance your ability to effectively use library resources, and will reduce potential frustration.

The following list includes terms commonly used in all libraries, as well as terms used specifically at the Texas A&M University - Central Texas libraries. Links to more extensive glossaries are provided at the end of the list.

  • Abstract: A brief summary of an article, report, document, book, and so on that includes the author's main points and/or an overview of the item's content.
  • Article: A composition on a topic, which is usually found in periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.) and reference works (encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, etc.).
  • Call Number: A unique combination of letters and numbers assigned to an item in a library's collection. Items are put on shelves in call number order.
  • Citation: An entry for a book, a periodical, or other item that contains all the information necessary to identify and locate the work (for example, author's name, item title, publisher, date, volume, issue number, and page numbers).
  • Closed Stacks or Remote Storage: Refers to items removed from the General Stacks and kept in another building or room, but which can be retrieved upon request and brought to the Circulation area for patron use within minutes or within 24 hours depending on where it has been stored.
  • Controlled Vocabulary: Standardized terms used in indexing and searching a specific database. These terms may differ for each database.
  • Database: A collection of information stored in electronic format that can be searched online. (See the libraries' Online Databases page.)
  • Descriptor: A term or terms used to designate the subject of a work.
  • Holdings: The materials owned by a library.
  • Index: (1) A list of names or topics usually found at the end of a publication, which directs you to the pages where the people/places or topics are discussed. (2) A printed or electronic publication that lists references to periodical articles or books by subject and/or author.
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL): A service offered by TAMUCT libraries that lets you borrow materials from other libraries. ILLiad (the library's online interlibrary request program) is used to request these items.
  • Journal: (See peer-reviewed journal.)
  • Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of an item that indicates its subject.
  • Magazine: A periodical containing popular interest or trade articles, which is usually written and illustrated in a less scholarly manner than a journal.
  • Media: The term often used to describe materials such as video and music.
  • Microfiche: A small card-shaped sheet of photographic film used to store miniaturized text and/or images. (See also microforms.)
  • Microfilm: A continuous roll of photographic film used to store miniaturized text and/or images. (See also microforms.)
  • Microforms: A reduced sized photographic reproduction of printed information on reel to reel film (microfilm) or film cards (microfiche) or opaque pages that can be read with a microform reader/printer.
  • Network: A communication system made up of computers which are connected. This arrangement allows information transfer from one computer to another.
  • Online Catalog: A computerized database which can usually be searched using various search methods such as author, title, subject, or call number to find out what a library owns. The online catalog contains a record for each item in the library, which displays the item's call number, location, publishing information, etc.
  • Peer-Reviewed Journal: A periodical that contains scholarly research, which is published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. Items are reviewed by a panel of experts (peer-review) before being published.
  • Periodical: Material published regularly such as magazines, journals, and newspapers. (See serials.)
  • Periodicals Collection: Offers current issues of print periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) to which the library subscribes. Older issues of periodicals may be housed in a separate collection.
  • Recall: A request for the return of library material before its due date.
  • Reference Collection: Offers research/reference materials for in-house use.
  • Refining Searches: Using a variety of techniques to increase effectiveness of online searches.
  • Remote Access: Describes the ability to access one computer system from another system that is in a distant location. This term is also used to mean off-campus access to TAMUCT computers and digital resources.
  • Requests and Holds: A Request can be a suggested title to be added to the library's holdings or a specific title in the library's collections (housed in closed stacks or checked out) that becomes a Hold when it becomes available to a patron.
  • Renewal: The process of extending the loan period for library materials.
  • Reserve Collection: Includes materials the library staff and faculty have put on reserve. Materials are available at the circulation desk.
  • Scholarly Journal: (See peer-reviewed journal.)
  • Search Statement/Search Query: Terms/phrases and modifications used with online search tools. (See controlled vocabulary, keyword, and refining searches.)
  • Serials: Includes publications that are published on both regular (fixed) and irregular (not fixed) schedules.
  • Special Collections: Collections in libraries that are segregated from the other collections due to the items' subject, rarity, value, and/or local interest. These items are for in-library use only.
  • Stacks (General) Collection: Area where items that can be checked out are shelved.
  • Subject Heading: A term or phrase used in indexes, databases, and library catalogs to group together materials on the same topic. Also called a descriptor.
  • Thesaurus: A list of categorized terms, which gives synonyms and shows relationships between words (hierarchy and related words). Provides standardization for online search tool indexing and searching.

Links to more extensive glossaries:

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