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Glossary of Library Lingo (terms): Terms by Category

Use this glossary to find definitions, examples, and context for library and/or research-related terms.



The terms in this part of the glossary are organized or categorized as they relate to researching informtion or using the Library.

  1. General Terms
  2. Search Tools
  3. Searching
  4. Online Library Records & Citations
  5. Evaluating Sources
  6. Evaluating Types of Sources
  7. Citing Sources 
  8. Milner Library Locations & Services

1. General Terms

Information Fluency

  1. An information fluent individual is able to critically think while engaging with and creating information and utilizing technology.
  2. Specifically, an information fluent individual is able to: 1) Recognize the need for information; 2) Formulate a plan to obtain the information including appropriate technologies to be used; 3) Discover, identify, and retrieve information from multiple venues and in multiple formats; 4) Evaluate and select relevant and credible information; 5) Synthesize obtained information or create new information using various technologies; and 6) Present or publish an information product to an audience using an appropriate platform.

Library Research - Using sources such as books and articles to collect information on a topic. This is different from primary research because no original experiments or tests are performed in library research.


  1. Any item that provides information to a student, writer, researcher, or library user. Examples: Books, journal articles, interviews, films, web sites.
  2. A specific field in a database record. The source field most often identifies a book or journal title.
    Title: "Alcoholics anonymous, other 12-step movements and psychotherapy in the US population," 1990
    Authors: Room, Robin; Greenfield, Thomas
    Source: Addiction; Apr 93, Vol. 88 Issue 4, p555-562, 8p
    Document Type: Article

2. Search Tools

Hidden (or deep) web - parts of the internet (typically databases of some sort) unavailable through conventional search engines, like Google or Yahoo. One must pay, subscribe, login or know the direct url to visit these sites and databases. Examples: I-Campus, Library Databases, Academic Search Premiere, PayPal.

Open Web - The parts of the web that are open to use by anyone without the restriction of an account or subscription. Examples are: Yahoo News, blogs, YouTube, government information.

Catalog - a comprehensive set of records describing the contents of a collection. Example: Milner Library Catalog is a list of the records of all the items Milner Library owns.

Database - a searchable set of records. The set of records could be for articles, books, images, etc.  Catalogs are considered a type of database. Examples of databases:  Milner Library Catalog, Amazon,, Lexis Nexis.; Examples of article databases: Academic Search Premier, ERIC, Web of Knowledge.

Search engine - Complex software or computer platform using algorithms to tag and retrieve information. Examples: Google, Yahoo, Bing.

3. Searching

Keyword Search - a word(s) or phrase(s) entered into a database search screen. The database brings back all records  in which that exact word or phrase appears. The word or phrase may be located anywhere in the record (title, abstract, full text, topic, etc.)

Search - a systematic effort conducted in order to locate information. This can be done manually or on a computer.

Search statement - a combination of search commands and terms entered into a search engine's or database's search boxes. Which combination you enter determines your results. Examples: media and body image, "wind power" and bird mortality, (drink* or alcohol*) and college.

Search strategy - a plan or set of steps for conducting a search. Example: 1) Formulate a topic statement.  2) Identify the main concepts in the topic. 3) Select appropriate finding tools for the topic. 4) Find subject heading(s) for the topic.

Search term - a word or phrase representing one of the main concepts in a research topic. The word(s) are generally typed into an online catalog, database, or search engine to retrieve relevant information. Examples: Media, Climate Change, Relationships.

Truncation - a symbol put at the end or near the end of a word used to tell a database or search engine to retrieve all variant endings of the word. It will search for the stem of the word (the part before the symbol) with any variant endings that come afterwards. Databases and search engines all use different symbols, but the asterisk ( * ) is most common.  See also: Wildcard Examples:  student*, stress*, automo*, feminis*.    

Wildcard - a symbol put anywhere in a word to express to a database or search engine to search for any letter in that designated position.  See also: Truncation Example: wom?n (finds women and woman) 

4. Online Library Records & Citations

Abstract - a short summary of the essential information of a book, article, or paper.  Abstracts can save you time because you can see if an item will be relevant without having to read the whole thing. 
abstract example


Call number - an unique identifier (like a street address) given to library items so they can be easily found. The identifier is a combination of letters and numbers found both on the physical item and in the online record. Items about the same subject often have similar call numbers.  The last four numbers are the year of publication.

Field(s) - book and article records provide basic information like author of the work, title of the work, and publication information. Each type of information is represented in it's own place and called a field. Examples:  Author field = Orwell, George   Title field = 1984

Full-text - when an entire item is available, typically referring to a whole item being available online (full-text online). Sometimes spelled fulltext or full text.

Record - information about an item that is organized in data fields and is searchable.

record example


  1. Any item that provides information to a student, writer, researcher, or library user. Examples: Books, journal articles, interviews, films, web sites.
  2. A specific field in a database record. The source field most often identifies a book or journal title.
    Title: "Alcoholics anonymous, other 12-step movements and psychotherapy in the US population," 1990
    Authors: Room, Robin; Greenfield, Thomas
    Source: Addiction; Apr 93, Vol. 88 Issue 4, p555-562, 8p
    Document Type: Article


5. Evaluating Sources

Currency - To determine if the date of publication of the information (when the item was created) is suitable for your project or research. You would need to ask yourself if something is current based on genre, context, situation, and assignment. Current for cutting edge scientific topics could be less than one year. Current for a historical event could be 10 years.  Something published in the last 1-5 years is generally considered current.

Relevancy - To determine how applicable the information is for the purpose of your project or research. Is the information in this source actually related to my topic? For what audience or level is the information written (general public, experts/scholars, etc.)? Why would you or would not quote/reference the information from this source?

Authority - To determine if the source author, creator, or publisher of the information is the most knowledgeable. Who is the author, creator, or publisher of the source or what organization is responsible for the source? How do you know if the author is an expert on the topic (e.g examine the author’s credentials and/or organizational affiliation)?

Accuracy - To determine the reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content. What indications do you see that the information is or is not well researched or provides sufficient evidence? What kind of language, imagery and/or tone is used (e.g. emotional, objective, professional, etc.)?

Purpose - To determine the reason why the information exists. Why was this source written ( inform, teach, entertain, persuade)? How might the author's affiliation affect the point of view, slant, or potential bias of the source?


  1. worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy, reliable.  Sometimes you might have to look up information about an author or source to verify if it is legitimate and cnsidered accurate. You could use Google Scholar to look up an author’s credentials or Ulrich’s Periodical to verify a journal or magazine. 
  2. the speaker’s competence to make the claim, as perceived by the listeners. – General Education shared definition.


6. Evaluating Types of Sources

Peer-Reviewed- an item had been reviewed and approved by a panel of other experts in the field of study before it was accepted for publication. This can sometimes be called refereed or scholarly. See Also: Scholarly Journal

Popular Magazine- a publication containing articles on a variety of topics, written by various authors in a non-scholarly or general interest style. Most magazines are heavily illustrated, contain advertising, and are printed on glossy paper. The articles are usually short (less than five pages long), frequently unsigned, and tend not to include a bibliography or list of references. Examples:  Psychology Today, Time, Newsweek, Popular Mechanic

Primary source

  • original material containing information with first-hand accounts of historical events, practices, conditions, or original research. They are from the time period involved and have not  been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. See also: Primary/Secondary Sources (by Discipline) Table
  • the process of accumulating evidence from first-hand observation and investigation. Primary sources include the examination of original texts, observations, surveys, interviews, laboratory experiments, and so on.

Secondary source

  • provides information that has already appeared in another form, is about other information, and/or by someone that was not present for the event or experience. See also: Primary/Secondary Sources (by Discipline) Table
  • process of accumulating evidence found in previously published work.  Secondary sources include evaluations and critiques of primary sources found in books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, reports, websites, television or radio broadcasts, and so on. – General education shared definition
Primary and Secondary Sources (by Discipline)


Primary Source

Secondary Source


A Sculpture

Article discussing a sculpture

Biological Sciences  Original Research Article Review or Meta-Analysis Article


Movie filmed in 1948

Movie Review


Presidential Speech

Web site comparing speeches

Social Sciences

Notes taken by a clinical psychologist

Film about the psychological condition

The idea for this table was motivated by University of Maryland's web site

Scholarly Journal-  a publication devoted to a specific field of knowledge. Journal articles are usually written by the person(s) who conducted the research. Longer than most magazine articles, they almost always include a bibliography or list of works cited. Articles appearing in scholarly journals are typically peer-reviewed. See also: Peer-reviewed Examples: The College Mathematics Journal, Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Modern Fiction Studies.

7. Citing Sources Terms

Annotated bibliography - a list of citations that includes a brief summary or evaluation for each item. 

Example (in MLA style):

annotated bibliography example

Bibliography - a list of citations that stands alone or is found at the end of a paper, article, chapter, or book.  These lists attribute ideas and intellectual property to the original authors and allow for the verification and location of information and sources. Depending on the citation style this list could be called Works Cited or References.   See also: Reference

Example (in APA style):

references example


  1. information needed to clearly identify and verify a source. This information is used to credit ideas and intellectual property to the original author(s) and to allow for the verification of the sourceSee Also: In-text Citation
  2. process of identifying for the audience the sources of information and evidence used in a text.  Ethical and responsible writers and speakers routinely document all outside sources within the body of the text and in a separate listing.  -General Education shared definition    

Example (in MLA style):

mla citation example

Citation style - a precise way of arranging the information needed to identify an item.  Entities (organizations, publications, or fields of study) do this to create consistency within their publications, but each entity has its own style.

Copyright - protection and legal rights provided by the laws of the United States [title 17, U.S. Code] to the authors of “original works”. These include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works. This can affect how students and faculty access and use information for their research.

In-text citation - brief mention of an author or source, within the body of a paper, to credit their quotes or ideas.  A full reference at the end of the paper or in the notes is still required. See Also: Citation


In today's business work environment, middle managers are no longer recognized for solid or advanced skills that may be seen as 'finite' but perceived within a context based on the ebbs and flow of a global economy (Sennett, 2006, p.11). Individuals hoping to climb the business management ladder...

"Websites like Google, Facebook and others offer free services that are designed to help people take part in society, but at a hefty cost: You volunteer your personal information to companies and that valuable data accumulates" ("Surveillance Society," 2010, p. 14). Every citizen should be concerned about how their digital lives are being tracked...

For service-learning to be truly effective with in the college environment, it needs to be much more then an assignment to be checked off at the end of a semester. Research shows that students who are immersed within a service-learning experience for a period of time gain more from the experience both personally as well as professionally (Brower 11).

Plagiarism - using or closely imitating another person’s ideas, text, or work and presenting it as your own without proper acknowledgement of the original source.  Can you identify plagiarism?


  1. a source that is cited on a works cited or references page
  2. assistance from a librarian that helps you find items 

Style Manual/Guide - a publication which specifies the details of a particular citation style.

Examples you can use in the library:

MLA handbook 7th edition
(click to view in catalog)

mla handbook

APA manual 6th edition
(click to view in catalog)

cover of APA manual


Works Cited - The list of sources (bibliography) used for a project formatted in the MLA citation style and is titled "Works Cited."


8. Milner Library Locations & Services

Check Out Desk - Located on the Main Floor (Floor 2) to the left as you enter the building. At this desk, you check out books, dvds, government documents, course reserves and technology such as iPads and laptop computers.

Collaboration Stations - available through the library, connect up to 6 laptop to do screen sharing.

Current Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers - availalbe on Floor 2

Group Presentation Room - Room 514 on Floor 5

Media Viewing Area - Floor 2 next to Einstein's, watch DVDs on large monitors

Microform - Floor 2

Reference and Information Desk - Floor 2 to the left as you walk in

Reference Resources - shelves behind the Reference Desk

Scanning - available on every floor. Scan to pdf, gmail, or Office365.

Teaching Materials Center (TMC) - Floor 6, simulates a contemporary school library


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