Alumnae Library
Michael Smith


Glossary Library Terms

The following selected library terms tend to be used frequently in library settings:

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ABSTRACTA brief summary that gives the essential points of a book, pamphlet, or article.
ADJACENCY (OR PROXIMITY)Search qualifier that allows you to look for words that are next to or near each other in a document. Most of the major search engines support adjacency, but some incorporate a default value instead of letting you choose how far apart your key words should be.
ALMANACAn annual publication listing facts, statistics, and other information.
ATLASA volume of maps, plates, engravings, tables etc.


BIBLIOGRAPHYA list of books on a particular topic. It can be published as a book or be part of a scholarly paper.
BOOKMARKStored shortcut that allows you to quickly get back to the places you find useful on the Internet without having to remember and retype a URL. Your personal collection of bookmarks is called a bookmark list or a hot list.
BOOLEAN SEARCHINGUse of the word "operator" AND, OR, NOT or NEAR to fine tune your search request. For example, if you want information about the Jurassic period without pulling up results about the popular film Jurassic Park, you can type Jurassic not park. All of the major Web search engines support Boolean searching in one form or another.
BROWSERA software program you install on your computer to retrieve and display documents on a remote Web server while you're connected to the Internet. Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are the two most popular Web browsers. Lynx is a text-based Web browser that can be used with a "shell" Internet account (i.e. without graphical capabilities).


CALL NUMBERThe number appearing on the spine of a book which enables it to be shelved in its proper sequence.
CARRELA desk type of furniture for individual study. They are found throughout Alumnae Library.
CD ROM (compact disc read only memory)There are two kinds of those CDs that are for listening only, CD ROMs that are for electronic databases, and can include dictionaries, encyclopedias or indexes.
CIRCULATION DESK/DEPARTMENTArea in the library where books are checked out and returned. The Circulation Department is responsible for shelving and maintenance of the library stacks and the upkeep of the photocopiers.
CITATIONAn entry in a bibliography, index, or syllabus. It is also a term used when one creates a footnote while writing a paper.
CLIENTA software application that's loaded onto your own computer and interacts with a remote server to get you the information you want. A Web browser is an example of a client.
CONTROLLED VOCABULARYA standardized set of keywords that identify the documents in a database. This improves a user's chances of finding every relevant document because he or she doesn't have to consider every synonym when choosing search words.
COOKIEA set of information (such as login, registration, shopping cart, or user preference information) sent by a Web Browser program to a Web Server. The Browser software saves the cookie information and sends it back to the Server along with any additional requests to the Server. The cookie enables the Server to customize information sent back to the user, keep a log of the user's requests, or gather other information about the user.
CUMULATIVE INDEXAn index that at stated intervals combines new items and items in previous issues to form a new unified list.


DATABASEMost generally any clearly identified collection of the raw material of information such as a telephone book or the former card catalog at a library. It is able to be accessed electronically.
DISSERTATIONAn essay or treatise presented by a candidate to partially fulfill a degree requirement.
DOCUMENTGeneric term for anything that appears in the main window of a Web client. Physically, it's a text file marked up with HTML tags.


ENCYCLOPLEDIAA work containing informational articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order or a similar work limited to a special field or subject.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)A collection of commonly asked questions with answers about a specific subject, assembled in a conveniently organized list for easy reading.
FAVORITESThe Internet Explorer version of a bookmark.
FEDERAL DOCUMENTSSometimes referred to as Government Documents, are publications of the various agencies of the U.S. Government. The Alumnae Library is a selective depository. We pick some, but not all documents, mainly those which support our curriculum and the needs of the local population.
FOOTNOTEA numbered note appearing at the bottom of a page or in a listing at the end of the text of a paper, noting the source of the numbered statement.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or DOWNLOADThe transfer of a file from a remote computer to yours.


GAZETTEERA geographical dictionary.


HANDBOOKA small reference book; a manual.
HOME PAGEThe first or top page of an individual's or organization's World Wide Web "home." Home pages typically contain some general information about the site and link to pages deeper down. The entire collection of Web pages is called a Website.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)The coding in a document that describes to a browser how to display the text, images, and other elements included in that document. Basically, it's a set of tags added to plain text files.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)The "rule" that allows Web servers on computers all over the Internet to access and transfer documents.
HYPERTEXT or HYPERMEDIA"Hot Spots" in a Web document that contain links to other documents or multimedia objects. They are usually differentiated by color on a Web page, indicating where a user cam "click" to jump to another object.


ICONA visual representation of a computer function, program, or document.
INDEXA publication produced by an agency which searches the literature of a particular discipline and arranges the citations in a subject breakdown. When it is in computer format, it can be referred to as a database. Ex. CINAHL, ERIC etc.
INTERLIBRARY LOAN (ILL)A lending of library materials by one library to another library.
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER (ISP)The company or organization that provides you with access to the Internet, either via a dial-up or direct (hard wired) connection. The latter is more typical in an organizational setting.


JOURNALA periodical issued by an institution, corporation, or learned society, containing current news and reports of activities and work in a particular field. A Juried or Refereed - a periodical or other serial in which the manuscripts are evaluated by at least one subject specialist in addition to the editor before being accepted for publication.


KEYWORDA word or phrase that a user believes is relevant to the information he or she is seeking. The user enters keywords into an online search form. The search engine then examines each record in its database to find those documents that match the keywords. A keyword search (as opposed to a concept search) is a search for documents containing one or more words specified by the user.


LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CLASSIFICATIONA system developed by the Library of Congress for arranging library collections. It uses letters and digits. Ex. Z/1006/A51.
LINKA hypertext reference to another Web document (or another section of the same document). Links typically appear as highlighted or colored text on a document in a Web browser window.


MAGAZINEA periodical for general reading containing articles on various subjects by different authors.
MONOGRAPHA book written on a particular subject. It is detailed in treating the subject but it is not extensive in scope.


NATURAL LANGUAGE QUERYA question in which you use normal conversational syntax, as if you were asking a question-- How can I get a red wine stain out of upholstery? Some search engines encourage you to type in a natural language query and then use "artificial intelligence" to process your request.
NEWSLETTERA publication of a group or society, informing its members of what occurs at meetings, etc.


PAC (PUBLIC ACCESS CATALOG)The old card catalog now online and available on a computer.
PERIODICALA publication which comes out at regular intervals. It contains articles pertinent to a particular subject.
PHRASE SEARCHINGA search for words found together in a specific phrase e.g. "America the Beautiful." Some search engines want you to indicate phrases by enclosing the words in quotation marks. Others permit you to search keywords as a phrase via a choice on the query interface.


REFERENCE COLLECTIONA collection of books and other materials in a library useful for supplying research information and shelved together for convenience. They do not circulate.
RELEVANCYThe degree to which a given document provides the information a user is looking for as determined by the user.
RELEVANCY RANKINGA search engine's arrangement of your results so that those most likely to be relevant to your query are displayed at the top of the list. Relevancy may be determined by any number of factors-such as multiple occurrences of keywords or how high up in a particular document they appear.
RESERVE BOOKSA small number of books taken from the open stacks and shelved together in a closed area. This small collection is loaned for limited periods of time to a large number of users.


SEARCH ENGINESoftware running on a Web server that takes criteria input by a user and compares these criteria with the documents in its database to find a set of matching items. Search engines may vary tremendously in terms of the size of their databases as well as the complexity of the underlying software programs.
SERIALA publication issued at various or regular intervals on a particular topic. It is a periodical. A periodical however is not necessarily a serial.
SERVERA computer connected to a network-- e.g. the Internet-- which allows other computers to retrieve data, e.g. Web pages, from it.
SPIDER (OR ROBOT OR WANDERER)A software program that crawls around the Web from server to server, gathering information about documents to add to a search engine's database. Each search engine's spider is a little bit different in the type and the amount of information it collects i.e. one may index just the URL and the first several words of a document, while another may index every word in a document.
STACKSThe area where books are shelved.
SUBJECT TREEA hierarchically arranged directory database in which you can browse by subject to find the information you want. At the top of the subject tree the first page, are the most general subject categories. You choose one of these and then "drill down" through the directory to reach more specific subject headings.
SURFINGA slang term for serendipitous Web browsing--cruising from site to site and document to document in order to find items that are valuable and/or interesting to the user.
SYLLABUSA document or directive outlining significant facts about a course.


TRUNCATIONThe use of a wild card character(*) to substitute for actual letters in a keyword. Some search engines permit truncation only at the ends of keywords i.e. child* will retrieve hits containing the words child, children, childless, etc. Other search engines may allow this sort of substitution in the middle of a word-handy if you're not sure how to spell something.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)The address where a resource lives on the Internet. Web URL's start with http://; gopher URL's with gopher://; FTP URLs with ftp://; and Usenet newsgroup URLs with news://.


WEB SERVERA computer connected to the Internet that stores and distributes Web pages upon request. The "server" is actually a software program running on the computer.


YEARBOOKAn annual volume of current information in descriptive and/or statistical form, sometimes limited to a special field.


ZINE or E-ZINEA category of online serials consisting of popular unconventional or informal "electronic magazines" that often cover popular culture, politics, etc.