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Resources for Students: Glossary of Library terms



An abstract is a summary of the main ideas of an article or book. An abstract is a great time-saving feature for students because it can give you a very good idea very quickly as to what topics are discussed in an article. Many of the online journal databases that are available through the Library offer abstracts.


Advanced search  

The Advanced Search method offers multiple search boxes where you can type in your keywords. Plus, you can do a more focused search by applying limits to your search. For example, you can search by Title and by Author in one search. Use this search when you want more focused search results.

Basic search 

The Basic Search method offers a single search box where you type in your keywords. You can select one specific search option at a time. For example, you can search by Title or by Author. Use this search when you are doing a general search to see what the Library has to offer on a topic.



A bibliography is an alphabetical list of any and all resources that you cite in your work. A bibliography includes every item that you quoted, paraphrased and summarized. A bibliography can include books, articles, websites and more. Some teachers ask that you include works that you consulted in your bibliography, so make sure that you know what your teacher requires! A bibliography is also known as a List of Works Cited or a List of References.


Boolean operators 

Boolean operators are used to put together a more organized and more focused search phrase. The three Boolean operators that we use most are: AND, OR, and NOT. We use Boolean operators to create relationships between our search terms. The goal of the Boolean operators is to get more accurate search results. For example, a search for apples AND oranges will retrieve articles that discuss both apples and oranges. A search for apples OR oranges will retrieve articles that discuss either apples or oranges, as well as articles that discuss both apples and oranges. A search for apples NOT oranges will retrieve articles that discuss only apples and do not mention oranges.

Call number

A call number is an alphanumeric code that is used in libraries to classify a book and to indicate the location of the book in the Library. The call number is like the address of the book; it tells you where the book lives in our Library. In our Library, the call number is indicated on a small white square label that is usually on the spine of every item in the Library.



Every item in our Library is recorded in an electronic record. All of these records are contained in our Library Catalog. When you search the Library catalog, you are searching the contents of the entire Library. There are two ways to search for items in our Library’s catalog: the Basic Search method and the Advanced Search method.


Circulating Collection

The Circulating Collection is a collection of books that are available for you to borrow for your research. It is the largest collection in our Library. The Collection is organized according to the Library of Congress Classification System. If you are looking for a specific book in the Circulating Collection, note the call number of the book so that you know where to look on the shelves. It's fun to browse the shelves, too! The Circulating Collection is located on the 4th and 5th Floors of the Library.


Circulation Desk

The Circulation Desk is a service counter where all books and other materials are checked in and out of the Library. All of the materials that are on Reserve are here. You can place a hold on a book, renew an item, and check on the status of fines at the Desk. The Circulation Desk is located on the Main Floor of the Library. We often call it the "Information Desk."



A collection is a group of similar items. In our Library, we organize the items by grouping them into collections. For example, all of the reference materials, (i.e. dictionaries and atlases), are grouped together in the Reference Collection on the Third Floor of the Library. Other collections in our Library include the Periodicals Collection, the Circulation Collection and Special Collections.


A database is an online repository or bank that provides access to millions of journal articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles, art images, eBooks, Films and other information that is organized and updated in a standardized, predictable and reliable way. There are many different kinds of databases. The databases that are most popular at our Library are the online journal databases. Some examples of the online journal databases that we subscribe to are Ebsco, JSTOR, and ProQuest, among others. The articles found in these databases are great sources of information for your assignments. Our databases can be found on individual pages for the Library website according to their title or subject (African American, Education, News, Social Science, Business, Music, etc.)




In computing, a directory, also called a file directory or folder, is a virtual container on a computer that holds individual files. Most computers have several directories and sub-directories for organizing files, creating complex structures of containers within containers. When you look at a URL for a website, you can identify the directory and sub-directory of a given page by looking at the section(s) of the URL comes immediately after the Top-level domain name. Each directory name is separated in the URL by a slash. For example, is a file that is contained in the directory “rights”, which is a sub-directory for the directory “en”.


(Digital object identifier)

From the American Psychological Association's website: “A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when your article is published and made available electronically. All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards. We recommend that when DOIs are available, you include them for both print and electronic sources. The DOI is typically located on the first page of the electronic journal article, near the copyright notice. The DOI can also be found on the database landing page for the article.” Source:


A field is a space for a piece of information. A field can be populated with data or information. For example, a bibliographic record has an Author field where the information about the author will be stored and can be viewed. Or, the field can be blank and the searcher may be required to fill in information in order to retrieve information.


File name 

In computing, a file name refers to the name that is given to a computer file when it is created. While file names can be almost anything the author of the file chooses, all file names must end with a period, followed by a string of letters that designates that file’s type, such as “.doc”, “.pdf”, or “.html”). You can often identify the file name for a given page on a website by looking at the last portion of that page’s URL. For example, the file name for the page is “index.shtml”.



Full-text means that the "full text" of an article is available to be viewed. The online journal databases that are available through the University Library all offer full-text articles. Full-text may be offered in two formats: HTML or PDF. The HTML full-text format is strictly a copy & paste of the original text, word for word. The PDF full-text format offers the convenience of the original pagination scheme, as well as any images that were published in the original publication. For these two reasons, the librarians generally recommend that you choose the PDF full text option whenever it is available.



Every website resides on a given computer. This computer is called the Host or Server. The name of a given website’s host/server can be identified by looking for a copyright statement on the website. The copyright statement can usually be found on the bottom of a website page and will list a person or organization that owns or “hosts” the website. If a copyright statement cannot be found, the host/server can be identified from the website’s URL by looking at the portion of the URL that comes immediately after “http://”.


Interlibrary Loan                   

                  If you don't find what you need the Interlibrary Loan department can borrow materials that are not available in the library such as books, periodical                          articles etc.



A keyword is a carefully chosen word that you use as a search term when you are searching in the Library Catalog, in an electronic database or online.


A librarian is a person who can help you with your research needs, from A to Z! A librarian has a specialized education, and is trained to help students and teachers to find what they need, in print or online. A librarian cares for the library and all its contents. He or she selects and acquires books and other materials for the Library and its users. He or she processes and organizes the items in the Library. A librarian provides information, training and highly personalized services to all users.


Library of Congress Classification System  

The Library of Congress Classification System (LCC) is the organization scheme that we use to organize the items in our Library. The LCC organizes information into 10 major subject classes. The LCC groups together items on similar topics, so that you'll find "like with like" when you browse the shelves. The LCC was created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States. 

The major subject classes are:

A  General Works

B  Philosophy; Psychology; Religion

C  Auxiliary Sciences of History

D  World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Etc

E  History of the Americas

F  History of the Americas

G  Geography; Anthropology; Recreation

H  Social Sciences

J  Political Science

K  Law

L  Education

M  Music and Books on Music

N  Fine Arts

P  Language and Literature

Q  Science

R  Medicine

S  Agriculture

T  Technology

U  Military Science

V  Naval Science

Z  Bibliography; Library Science; Information Resources (General)


  • The Montgomery Higher Education Consortium is a partnership formed to promote cooperation in the service offered by the Montgomery area higher education community. Students, faculty, and staff of each participating institution, with proper identification, will have access to all library materials at other participating institutions on the same terms as their peers at that institution.

My Account  

All students, teachers and staff at the University have a personal online account at the Levi Watkins Learning Center. Your personal account is called “Profile” You can log in to “Profile” to see which items you have checked out and if you have any fines. Also, you can renew your books online! 



Peer-review is the process that an article must undergo before it is published in a scholarly journal. During the peer-review process, the article is reviewed and evaluated by a group of peers of the author, i.e. other researchers in the same discipline. Essentially, the peers approve the article for publication. The online journal databases that are available through the University Library all use the peer-review process as the defining characteristic of a scholarly article.



A periodical is a publication that is published on a "periodic" and predictable timetable. Periodicals may be published daily, weekly, monthly, twice per year, etc. Periodicals include newspapers, magazines and journals. Periodicals may be published in print and/or electronically.


Periodical Collection

The Periodical Collection contains all of the print Magazines, Scholarly Journals and Newspapers that are available in the Library.



In computing, a protocol refers to the set of universally agreed-upon programming rules used by two computers in order to exchange data. On the Internet, the most commonly used protocol is called the hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP. A URL that uses HTTP will start with “http://”. Another fairly common type of protocol is “file transfer protocol” or FTP, which is used to upload files to websites. A URL that uses FTP will start with “ftp://”.

Reference Area  

The Reference Area is located on the Main Floor of the Library. In the Reference Area, you will find the Reference Desk, where a Library staff member waits to help you with your research questions, from Monday to Friday, 7h30-18h00. Also in the Reference Area are laptops that are dedicated to student use.


Reference Collection  

The Reference Collection contains all of the reference books in our Library. It can be found on the Main Floor of the Library. A reference book is a book that you would consult for a definition, fact, statistic, or background information on a topic. A reference book is not a book that you would read from cover to cover. You would “refer” to it for information. Examples of reference books are dictionaries and encyclopedias.


Reference Desk  

The Reference Desk is where you can ask for help with your research when you are in the Library. A Library staff member is waiting to help you at the Reference Desk from 7h30-18h00, from Monday to Friday. The Reference Desk is located in the Reference Area on the Main Floor of the Library.



A record is a file in a database. One record usually represents one piece of information in a larger collection. For example, a record in the online journal databases represents one journal article. Or, a record in the College Library's online catalogue represents a book or periodical or DVD or CD on our shelves.


Reserve Collection  

The Reserve Collection contains the most frequently used items in our Library. We put these popular items on Reserve so that they are more accessible to you. Teachers often put materials like articles and practice exams on Reserve. When you want to borrow Reserve materials, ask for them at the Circulation Desk. Note that Items that are On Reserve have a shorter check-out period so that more people can borrow the material. You'll want to take note of the date and time that your item is due to be returned to the Library. The Reserve Collection is locating behind the Circulation Desk on the Main Floor of the Library.


(see also "Peer-Reviewed")

At the LWLC, the librarians encourage the students to be critical about what information they choose to use for their assignments. When searching the online journal databases, the students are reminded to search for and select "scholarly" articles. The most authoritative information available is usually the scholarly information. The online journal databases all use the peer-review process as the defining characteristic of a scholarly article.



The Oxford English Dictionary defines "stack" as "a pile, heap or group of things, esp. such a pile or heap with its constituents arranged in an orderly fashion." When we refer to the "stax" in our Library, we are talking about the book stacks, specifically those books that are located in the Circulating Collection on the 4th and 5th Floors. When you browse through our books on the bookshelves, we say that you are “in the stax.”


Top-level domain name 

A top-level domain name is the portion of a website URL that identifies the broad affiliation of that website. Top-level domains are standardized designations that allow users to quickly identify the broad type of site being viewed, and include, but are not limited to “.com” (commercial), “.edu” (educational or school), and “.org” (non-profit organization). With the exception of sites originating in the United States, there are also top-level domain names that identify a site’s country of origin, such as “.ca” for Canada, and sometimes even province or territory of origin, such as “” for Quebec.



Truncation is a very useful search technique that you can use in the online journal databases and the Library catalogue. Truncation allows you to use the root of your search term and to tack on a truncation symbol in order to perform a more focused search. Truncation keeps the search focused on a specific search idea, but it opens up the search to include all permutations of that word. In the online journal databases that the University Library offers, the truncation symbol is usually a *. (You can check the Help search to find out which symbol to use in each database.) For example, if you are doing a search on teenagers, entering teen* in the database search engine will turn up results that include: teen, teens, teenager, and teenagers. You must be judicious about where you truncate your search term. If not, you could end up with all kinds of results that are not on the topic of your search. Some databases truncate automatically.


A URL, or “Uniform Resource Locator” is the address for a given site or page on the Internet. Usually beginning with “http://” or “https://” a URL tells your computer what host/server to contact to retrieve a given web page and what to ask for once it has made contact. All URLs consists of three major sections: the protocol, the host/server name, and the top-level domain name. Depending on where you are on a website, a URL can also include one or more directories and sub-directories and a file name.

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