Library jargon for your research during finals

Getting confused with some library terms but too shy to ask? Trying to make the best of our library resource for your research during finals?

This alphabetical glossary is designed to introduce you to some of the terminology commonly used in our academic library setting including but not limited to offline searching.

A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document.

Book stacks
Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books in the book stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to simply as the “stacks.”

Call Number
A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. Our library uses the Library of Congress Call Numbers.

Circulation desk
The place in the library where you check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.

Course reserve
A selection of books, articles, videotapes, or other materials that instructors want students to read or view for a particular course. You may check out print reserve materials for four hours.

A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.

A request by a user to a library that a book checked out to another person be saved for that user when it is returned.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library.

International Standard Book Number – A thirteen-digit number (formerly 10 digits) assigned to each edition and variation of a book.

A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports.

Primary source
A document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic.
Primary sources are created contemporaneously with the topic they describe. Examples include original manuscripts, articles reporting original research or thought, photographs, drawings, memos, financial records, posters, film footage, interviews, government documents, public records, artifacts, and newspaper clippings.
Primary sources also include first-hand accounts that were documented later, such as letters, diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, eyewitness accounts, and oral histories.

A request for the return of library material before the due date.

A lengthening (or extension) of the loan period for library materials.

Secondary sources
Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.

Style manual
An information source providing guidelines for people who are writing research papers. A style manual outlines specific formats for arranging research papers and citing the sources that are used in writing the paper.

Still confused? Ask us! Chat/Email/Appointment
Check out these websites of other university libraries:USC Library Terminology: Glossary of Library Terms

Camden-Carroll Library Glossary of Library Terms: Figuring out our Jargon

USC UPSTATE Glossary of Library Terms: Glossary of Library Terms