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A brief summary of a periodical article or a book.
Alabama Libraries Exchange Service, a cooperative service that allows students and faculty to borrow books directly from another partner library. Books may be borrowed in person, by going to the other library, or online (books ordered online will be mailed to the circulation department). Cooperating schools include Auburn University, Auburn at Montgomery, Jacksonville State, University of Alabama, and UAB.
A publication, usually annual, containing a large collection of facts and statistics. It can pertain to a particular subject, such as the Almanac of African American Heritage, or to a broader collection of data, such as the World Almanac.
an off-campus storage facility maintained by the Libraries. Items housed at the Annex can be recalled online and checked out for use by patrons.
A Boolean Operator. AND is a word used to connect terms in a computer search. It narrows the search to articles that contain only the selected terms. For example: college students AND stress. See also Boolean Logic, Or, Not.
A description of an article or book. An annotated bibliography is useful because it includes brief summaries of books and articles on a topic that can help you determine if something is relevant. You may have an assignment to annotate a source. That means you would write a description of the reading.
Public records or historical documents, or the place where such records and documents are kept. The University of Alabama Archives is part of Hoole Special Collections and is located in Room 208, Mary Harmon Bryant Hall.
A book of maps. Atlases are usually classed as reference books and may be used in the library only.
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Barcode Number:
Is a 10-digit number assigned to most items cataloged into the Libraries collections. The barcode number is found on a label attached at the top left corner of the cover of each volume. It is used to charge and discharge books.
Bibliographic citation:
the information that identifies a book or an article. A bibliographic citation for a book usually includes the author, title, publisher, and date. For example:
     Trillin, Calvin. Too soon to tell. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1995.
A bibliographic citation for an article in a magazine or journal includes the author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, date, and pages. For example:
     Kennedy, G. E. "College students' relationships with grandparents,"
       Psychological Reports 64 (April 1989): 477-485.
A bibliographic citation is the information you will need to locate the item or to include as a reference in your research paper.
A list of materials (books, articles, videos, and so on) on one subject or by one author. Bibliographies can be helpful because they gather and identify materials on a common theme. Be wary of outdated bibliographies, however.
A facility (often a privately owned commercial establishment) that offers repair and binding services for books and periodicals. Books that are at the bindery are out of the Libraries system and are not available for use.
The life story of an individual.
Links or shortcuts to selected web sites. Individual users may create bookmarks using an operation provided in the browser.
Boolean Logic:
(a.k.a., Boolean Operators) A logic system used in computer searching, AND - narrows a search; OR - broadens a search; NOT - excludes search term(s). See also And, Or, Not.
Bound periodical:
Issues of magazines or journals arranged together under one hard cover. Each of the University Libraries has its own bound periodical collection, and some bound periodicals are housed in the Annex. Bound periodicals are usually shelved together and are for use in library only or are allowed to be checked out for only a limited time.
Program that enables access to the World Wide Web. The most common browsers are Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer, both display graphics.
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Call number:
A unique combination of letters and numbers used to identify items in a library. Materials are arranged on the shelves in call number order. A call number is given to an item on the basis of subject so that materials on a similar subject will be shelved together. Dewey Decimal, and Library of Congress are two of the major types of call numbers a library might use. University Libraries use the Library of Congress call numbering system.
A database of what the library owns.
A read-only memory compact disk, used to store printed information such as periodical indexes. This disk is read using a computer.
Check out:
To borrow library materials for use outside of the library.
To lend library materials for use outside of the library.
Circulation (Desk):
The library department that checks out and reshelves materials, as well as handling overdue fines and generally taking care of the book collection. A circulation desk is found in each of the University Libraries.
see Bibliographic Citation.
Sorting of information or books into similar categories. University Libraries use the Library of Congress classification system.
Controlled vocabulary:
A standardized list of terms used by a database to describe and organize its subjects.
Information that a Web site puts on your hard disk so that it can remember something about you at a later time.
Exclusive rights to publish, produce, sell, and distribute a literary or artistic work.
CQ Researcher:
A weekly journal that covers one current and controversial topic in each issue. It provides good, clear background, chronology, outlook, opposing viewpoints, and bibliographies for further research on the topics chosen. Recent examples are: the diabetes epidemic, mad cow disease, and cell phone safety.
Cross Reference:
A direction from one place to another. A SEE reference indicates that all materials will be found listed under another specified term; a SEE ALSO reference lists other terms under which related materials might be found.
Cumulative index:
An index in which several previously published indexes are combined into one book.
Current periodical:
The most recent issues of a journal or magazine often published during the last year, which have not been bound. Each branch of the Libraries has its own current periodicals area.
Curriculum Materials Center:
A collection of materials for use in grade K-12 education, including children’s books, textbooks, teaching materials, and nonbook items. The University Libraries’ Curriculum Materials Center is located in the basement of McLure Library.
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An organized collection of records having a standardized format and content. For example, a cookbook is a database of recipes. Computerized indexes and catalogs are two of the most common types of databases in libraries.
A library which receives the publications of a government. Gorgas Library is a depository library. Government documents are located on the east side of the first floor.
Book that gives the spelling, pronunciation, meaning, and definition of words or concepts. Language dictionaries are the most common type, but there are also subject dictionaries that define words and concepts in a given area, such as literature or science.
Book-length studies required of students working for a doctoral degree. Copies of all doctoral dissertations accepted at the University of Alabama are held by the Libraries. One copy is housed at the library related to the school where the dissertation was done. These may be checked out as books. A complete collection of dissertations is shelved at Hoole Special Collections; these copies may be used in the library only. Older (pre-1978) dissertations have a D378 classification; most are housed in the Annex and may be requested and checked out.
The last part of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL); indicates the type of host. Some of the most common domains are:
  .com = commercial     .edu = educational
  .gov = government    .org = organization
     for example:
To move information from a computer database onto a computer disk so it can be viewed at another location.
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The person responsible for compiling and organizing a) a periodical; b) a book written by several authors; or, c) a web site.
Electronic format:
Information that is located on a computer instead of on a printed page.
Electronic mail; a way to send messages to people via computer.
A reference book or a set of books containing informational articles, arranged in alphabetical order. General encyclopedias deal with many subjects; subject encyclopedias provide information on a single subject. Used to obtain background information on topics of interest.
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A part of a record used for a particular category of data. For instance, the title (ti) field displays the title for each record in the PsycInfo database. Some of the other fields are author (au), source (so) and abstract (ab). The University Libraries catalog contains additional fields that give the description, call number, location, holdings, and circulation status of an item at the library.
A computer set up to monitor traffic between an Internet site and the Internet. It is designed to keep unauthorized outsiders from tampering with a computer system thereby increasing a server's security.
Any note used to document borrowed ideas or to further explain a detail outside of the main text. The term usually refers to notes at the bottom of a page but may also include endnotes, which are found at the end of the text, and parenthetical notes, which are found within parentheses in the middle of the text.
Full Text:
A CD-ROM or other electronic database that contains all the words of the original book or article.
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(1) As noun, a search engine that allows a user to search through a large number of websites. (2) As verb, to enter keywords or phrases into a search engine rather than specific web addresses.
Government document:
A publication issued by an office or agency of a governing body: federal, state, local, or international.
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A reservation placed on a book so that when it is returned it will be held for the requesting patron. A hold may be placed online.
The group of items included in a library.
Home page:
The first page of any Web site.
Hypertext Markup Language. The programming language in which Web documents are written.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Http is the set of rules that allows transparent linkage of textual documents to other related documents on the World Wide Web.
Documents written in hypertext contain active links to other documents.
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(1) In a book, an alphabetical list of names and subjects included in the book along with the corresponding page number(s);
(2) As a type of reference source, a systematic guide to the contents of a discrete set of materials. For example, periodical indexes allow you to search for articles published in particular magazines or journals. These indexes cover a specific time period and may be searched by subject and often by author.
Information Literacy:
The ability to find, evaluate, and apply information needed for life-long learning.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL):
the service, and the library department, which borrows materials from other libraries for the use of patrons. Interlibrary loan items may be requested online.
The world's largest interconnected computer environment. It offers access to e-mail; logging on to a remote computer (telnet); transferring files from one computer to another (FTP); and, the World Wide Web.
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Programming language that enables small programs to run within a hypertext document. Enables animation and multimedia features in Web sites.
A publication which has scholarly information, usually written by professors, researchers, or experts in a subject area.
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A significant word within the record of a book or an article that can be searched by the computer.
A cooperative agreement among several Southeastern libraries allowing their patrons to place direct interlibrary loan requests online
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Library of Congress:
The national library of the United States and the largest library in the world.
Library of Congress Subject Headings:
A set of subject terms specified by the Library of Congress system.
A direct connection or online shortcut; when clicked on with the mouse a link will take you to another online location, in the same or another web page.
An e-mail discussion group.
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A periodical intended for the general public rather than for scholars.
Main Stacks:
Sections of the Libraries that house books that may be checked out for home use. Gorgas’s main stacks are located on floors 2, 3M, and part of 4M. Bruno, McLure, and Rodgers have their own main stack areas
General term used for printed materials that have been reduced in size and are read using special machines. Microforms include microfilm (on a roll) and microfiche (small sheets). Gorgas’s microforms collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library. McLure Education Library has several microfiche collections, including the ERIC microfiche, located in the basement. Some microforms have been moved to the Annex but can be recalled if needed.
A book. Usually a scholarly book written about a specific subject.
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A coalition of Alabama research libraries set up to coordinate library resource sharing.
Public discussion groups or bulletin boards. Most are interactive.
Materials that can be used only within the library and cannot be checked out.
A Boolean Operator. NOT is a word used to exclude terms in a computer search. For example: clinton not hillary. See also Boolean Logic, And, Or.
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Online database:
A computerized file, often of periodical indexes.
Online searching:
Using an off-site computer system to find periodical citations on a subject.
A Boolean Operator. OR is a word used between words to find documents containing either of the words. For example: clinton or gore. See also Boolean Logic, And, Not.
Oversized (of books):
too large to fit on standard bookshelves. Some of the Libraries have special shelves for oversized books.
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A magazine, journal, or newspaper that is published at regular time periods, or "periodically". A periodical is a type of serial. Gorgas Library’s periodical collection is located on floors 2 and 4M; branch libraries have their own current and bound periodical areas.
Literary stealing. Academic dishonesty. Taking ideas from another source without acknowledging or documenting it or presenting another person's ideas falsely as one's own.
Primary Source:
An original source. For example: diaries, letters, a newspaper article published during the time period of an historical event, a researcher's report on his/her original study, often published in a scholarly journal. See also Secondary source.
Print Format:
Information in paper form as opposed to online or electronic format.
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All the information given about a particular subject (term used most often in the context of digital sources).A record typically includes the citation information, an abstract, and other information such as language.
(1) (1) Another term for bibliographic citation;
(2) (2) A service, usually a department, provided by a library to help people find the information they need. Gorgas Library has a Reference Desk on the first floor, near the entrance; Bruno, McLure, and SEL provide their own reference service.
Reference Books:
Books—usually factual information—that cannot be checked out. They include general and specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, bibliographies, handbooks, directories, and similar works.
Reference Librarians:
Specialists in the field of information retrieval. Generally they have the Master’s degree in library science; many have graduate degrees in a subject specialty as well. Reference librarians, usually available at reference desks to help you find the information you need, can be found in any branch of the University Libraries.
An extension of the loan period for charged library materials (usually for the same charge period as with the original checkout). University Libraries materials may be renewed online once: after the first renewal you must bring book into any of the University Libraries (not necessarily the branch of the original checkout) in person. Items that have been placed on hold by another patron may not be renewed. Books may not be renewed by telephone.
Relevance-ranked search:
A search in which the results are ranked in the order determined by an algorithm which arranges them so that the works most pertinent to the search topic appear at the beginning of the list.
  • how many of your terms appear in the record
  • which field(s) of the record contain your terms
  • The proximity of your search terms to each other in the record
Items that have been placed on a special status by instructors so that students can use them for a particular class or assignment. Information on reserve items can be found by clicking on “course reserves” and entering information such as course number or instructor’s name, and following the directions. Full texts of electronic reserves are available online using the information and links under “course reserves.” Reserve books and print materials, which may be checked out for a shorter period than most other similar items, are available at the circulation desks in Gorgas and the branch libraries.
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Search engine:
A program that acts as a card catalog for the Internet. Search engines attempt to index and locate desired information by searching for keywords a user specifies. Search engines can be tiresome and not very efficient if you don't know how to use them correctly. In addition, different engines are good for different kinds of searches. Examples of search engines:,,,
Secondary Source:
Second-hand information. Material that discusses or reports someone else's ideas. See also Primary source.
Self checkout:
A process by which the patron checks out his or her own materials using a machine that does not require the help of library staff. Gorgas Library has a self-checkout device located at the back entrance on the first floor.
A publication that comes out in parts. Serials include newspapers, journals, magazines, annual reports, and yearbooks.
SIRS Researcher:
A general reference database containing thousands of full-text articles exploring social, scientific, historic, economic, political, and global issues. Articles are selected from over 1,200 domestic and international newspapers, magazines, journals and government publications. All articles are indexed according to Library of Congress.
A book, article, Web address, or person which supplies information.
A computer program that moves through the Web, collecting and indexing information about the sites that it visits.
Area of a library where bookshelves are located.
Style manual:
A reference book that shows you how to create a bibliography and cite references as well as giving you tips on writing. The most commonly used are the MLA Handbook for Writers and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Subject heading:
The specific word or phrase used to find a book or article on a specific topic in a catalog or periodical index.
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The main part of a book, as distinguished from preliminary pages, appendices, and footnotes.
A basic Internet connection, allowing access to files on a remote computer. Files appear in text only; no graphics.
A book of synonyms. Also a specialized vocabulary book used with a specific subject database such as medicine or education.
A long study required for the Master’s degree in some departments. Copies of Alabama theses are housed at the library of the author’s subject, and may be checked out as books. Older theses have a call number beginning with T378 and are housed at the Annex. One copy of each thesis done at the University of Alabama is housed in the library of the Hoole Special Collections Library in the Mary Harmon Bryant Building.
Title page:
A page at the beginning of a book bearing publication information such as full title, authors' or editors' names, and the imprint.
To shorten a word to its root. In searching databases, a truncation symbol, such as ? or *, can be used to find several words with the same root. For example, m?n finds men and man; find* searches for find, finder, finding, finds
A hands-on guide to a database or other subject of study.
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Universal borrowing:
A reciprocal agreement among several schools allowing students and faculty from any school in the group to check out materials on the same basis as local students. Bama Libraries users may participate in universal borrowing using ALLIES, the Alabama Libraries Exchange Service.
Uniform Resources Locator. The address of a Web site. For example,
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The page on the back side of the title page that provides more complete publication information than found on the title page.
A number of issues of a periodical, usually a year.
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Web site:
A collection of related files written in html and accessible via the World Wide Web.
World Wide Web:
An Internet resource of hypertext documents that can be viewed using a browser.
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Adapted from:

©2006 - University Libraries , The University of Alabama
adapted with permission from
Healey Library , University of Massachusetts, Boston
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