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International Students: Library Vocabulary

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Terms or Phrases

The following is a list of words that you may hear in the library:



Abstract: a paragraph that tells you briefly what an article will talk about

Access: to be able to get to a resource

Account: your personal record through the library

Annotation: notes that explain more about a book, article or text

Articles: a piece of non-fiction text that is published in a periodical

Audio: something that you listen to; sound

Author: the creator of an information resource


Bibliography: a list of information resources used to write a research paper

Boolean Searching: words or symbols used to make a search more efficient

Borrow: to take a resource out of the library

Broad: a search that has a large number of hits; more general

Browse: to look around without knowing exactly what you want


Call Number: a code that labels a resource to make it easier to find

Catalog: a comprehensive list of library materials that you search when you are looking for information resources

Check-in: to return a resource you borrowed from the library

Check-out: to take out or borrow a resource from the library

Circulation Desk: where you borrow and return library resources

Citation: a reference to a particular resource

Copy: to duplicate an information resource exactly often using a machine

Copyright: the legal rights granted to create and distribute information resources

Course Reserve: resources your teacher puts in the library or you to access temporarily


Database: an online search application that allows you to find periodical articles

Dictionary: a reference tool that explains the meanings of words, terms, and topics

Digital: an electronic resource format

Document: a recorded work or file

Download: to transfer a file onto a computer

Due Date: the deadline for returning a resource to the library


eBook: a book in digital or electronic form

Email: electronic mail; messages sent through the Internet

Encyclopedia: a reference tool containing brief articles on a variety of topics


Flashdrive: a memory device to save electronic files on

Full-text: the entire contents of an article


Google: a popular search engine


Hits: the number of times a search term appears in database or on the web after you do a search

Homepage: the first or default web site when you open your internet browser


Index: an alphabetical list of topics or subjects that refers you to a page or site

Information: the data being communicated by a resource

Information Desk: the place where you can ask reference librarians questions

Interlibrary Loan: a system of borrowing resources from other libraries

Internet: the network that interconnects computers to networks around the world; it is used to send email or look at web sites.


Journal: a periodical that gives you information from research or a study in a particular field


Keyword Search: to use a specific term to conduct a search in a database on the web


Late Fees/Fine: money you owe the library when you return a book after its due date

Lend: to let someone borrow materials or resources

Librarian: the trained professional who works in the library

Library of Congress Classification System: a system of organizing books originally established by the US Congress in 1800

Link: a word, phrase or picture that connects you to another web site or page when you click on it

Loan Period: the length of time you are allowed to borrow resources

Log in: to gain access to a computer through a username and password


Magazine: a popular interest periodical containing articles on many different topics; not scholarly


Narrow: a search that has a smaller number of hits; more specific

Newspaper: a regularly published printed daily or weekly; not scholarly


Off-Campus Access: a way to use the school library website from a computer that is not on campus

Online: on the Internet

Overdue: when a borrowed resource has been returned after the due date


Password: your secret combination of numbers and letters that allows you to log-in

PDF: portable document format; the full-text of an article is often this type of digital file

Peer-Reviewed: a scholarly article that was evaluated when submitted for publication in a journal

Periodicals: publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers

Plagiarism: when the work and ideas of another writer are used or copied as if it were your own; stealing

Primary Source: an original, firsthand document or record

Print: to put a copy of the digital document or file onto paper

Printer: the machine you use to print out documents and files


Query: a request for information submitted as a search


Reference Materials: resources that have a lot of information, like an encyclopedia, and cannot be borrowed

Relevance: words or ideas that are related

Remote Access: the use of online services from a remote computer. When working from home or other remote location you may need access to our electronic resources. 

Renew: to get more time borrowing a book from the library from its original due date

Research: an investigation of a topic or field of study

Research Question: the question you want to answer with the information you find while doing research

Resource: books, periodicals, files, and other materials found in a library


Scholarly: a journal that publishes academic research and reports on studies conducted

Search: a systematic way of looking for information

Search Engine: a device on the Internet that helps you search for a key word or phrase

Select: to choose

Source: the material containing information

Stacks: a group of books on shelves (need a call number from library catalog to find)

Style Manual: a guide to a set of rules for writing a research paper

Subject: what you are researching


Title: the name given to a book or article

Topic: the subject you are talking about in your research

Tutorial: a printed or online instructional tool


URL: the location or address of an online resource

Username: the code you use to log in


Video: an electronic medium that shows images and usually has sound

Volume: a source of information that is part of a series such as a journal or magazine


World Wide Web: a global network of internet servers