Fort Belknap College Library

Orientation to the Fort Belknap College Library
Understanding Libraryspeak:
A Glossary of Library and Electronic Research Terms

This glossary has definitions and other information about terms and concepts that will help you understand and complete successful library and electronic research. Browse through the glossary now, noting unfamiliar terms, and refer to it as needed for your various research projects.

If any of the definitions in this glossary are confusing to you, or if there are other terms you'd like to add, please let us know. There is a link to an email contact at the end of the glossary.

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1. a brief summary of a book or article 2. an index which includes abstracts SEE ALSO periodical indexes and abstracts

a collection of selected musical or literary works or excerpts

a repository of documents or other material, usually of historical value.

a brief self-contained essay on a topic, usually found in periodicals or encyclopedias

a recording of sound; LP or phonorecords, compact discs, and tapes are all audiorecording formats


bibliographic record
the unit of information fields (e.g. title, author, publication date, etc.) which describe and identify a specific item in a bibliographic database

bibliographic database
a database which contains information pertaining to publications such as books, periodical articles, essays, and government documents

a list of books, articles, electronic sources, scores, etc. on a specific topic

Boolean searching
named for mathematician George Boole, Boolean searching uses mathematical set logic to combine search terms. Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT are used in Boolean search statements to specify the logical relations among terms.

browse searching
in browse searching, one is limited to a particular index in a database, such as the title index in Catalyst, for example. The search results in one's being placed in the index list at the point nearest to the terms searched for. One can scroll through the list from that point either forward or backward, as far as one wishes, through all the entries in the index, such as all the titles in Catalyst. In brows earching, the computer matches the search statement exactly, so word order is important.

browser (web)
a software program which accesses, reads and displays information from the World Wide Web; also called "web browser" or "client." e.g. Netscape, Internet Explorer, or Lynx (a text only browser)


call number
an identification number assigned to a library collection item (e.g. book, periodical, manuscript, videorecording, musical score, etc.) which allow patrons to locate the item in the collection or to request ("Call") the item from a closed stack area. FBC Library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme.

Circulation Desk
a public service desk where books and other materials are checked out to library users. Reserve material for classes is also at the Circulation Desk, as are video recordings.

information which fully identifies a publication; a complete citation usually includes author, title, name of journal (if the citation is to an article) or publisher (if to a book), and date. Often pages, volumes and other information will be included in a citation.

conference report
papers generated at or for a conference; may include minutes, transcripts, papers, and presentations


an organized collection of information.

descriptors see subject headings

a list of audiorecordings on a particular subject, similar to a bibliography

document delivery see interlibrary loan


a compilation of individual articles by authorities giving a broad overview and background information. Articles typically include references to authoritative books and articles on a subject. General encyclopedias cover all areas of knowledge; there are also specialized encyclopedias that cover more limited subjects in greater depth


a collection of articles by scholars published on a special occasion, or in someone's honor

the part of a record used for a particular category of data. For example, the title field in a database record displays the title for the record.

fulltext database
a database which includes the complete text of items (such as periodical articles) which are indexed in the database


a computer program developed at the University of Minnesota to allow computer users to find information on other computers. Gopher was a predecessor of the World Wide Web.


an FBC student, faculty, or staff member may place a hold on a library item checked out to another person; this ensures that the person placing the hold will be next in line to receive the item when it is returned. Place holds at the Circulation desk.

the materials owned by a library are sometimes referred to as its holdings

home page
the entry point or introductory page to a website. It can also be a web page designed by an individual to present personal or professional information.

a document format which includes the use of specially coded, terms or images which, when selected or "clicked", connect to a linked location or file, or carry out a command to run an application or program


a list of terms (such as subject headings or descriptors, author names or title words) describing journal articles, books, etc., and giving information needed to locate the articles, etc.

Information Desk
a public service desk where all library patrons can obtain assistance with research and other library or campus related information. In some libraries, this is called the reference desk

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)/Document Delivery
FBC students, faculty, and staff may obtain materials not owned by our Library through this service. There is usually no charge. For more information about Interlibrary Loan, please go to the Information Desk.

a worldwide network of millions of computers.

Internet service provider
an agency or company that assigns an Internet address to individual users, enabling them to access the internet


a periodical containing scholarly articles written by authorities or experts in a given field of study.


any word or phrase associated with a record in a database that is indexed for searching

keyword searching
keyword searching results in a list of database records that contain all the keywords entered as search terms, according to the logic of the search. A keyword search may be performed in one index, or it may be performed in more than one index combined.



films, tapes and other audio-visual materials that require the use of special listening or viewing equipment

a publication format in which documents are produced in reduced size on transparent or opaque thin plastic. Microfilm is in reels, microfiche in on cards ("fiche" is a French word for "card"), and microcards are opaque cards. Microform was a popular storage medium before there was digital storage, which allows much greater compression of data, but microform has never been popular with those who must use it to retrieve information.

mono = one, graph = writing, so a monograph is "one writing," or a book




items published regularly at least twice a year. Daily and weekly newspapers, weekly news magazines, monthly hobby magazines, quarterly and semi-annual scholarly journals are common types of periodicals. See also serials

periodical indexes and abstracts
periodical indexes list articles which have appeared in journals, magazines, or newspapers. They list author, title, name of periodical, volume, pages and date of publication. Abstracts are indexes that also contain summaries of the article. (These summaries are also called abstracts.) Both indexes and abstracts may be in print or electronic form.

primary source
1. an account by an eyewitness or the first recorder of an event, in written or other form, including microform and electronic reproduction (e.g. diaries, letters, minutes of meetings, news footage, newspaper articles) 2. data obtained from original research, statistical compilations or legal documents (e.g. reports of scientific experiments, U.S. Census records, public records) 3. creative works such as poetry, music, or art 4. physical artifacts such as stone points, pottery, furniture, and buildings.

the entity (person, company, non-profit organization, or other group) that selects the content, produces, promotes, and distributes a book, periodical, or other item



a collection of related data, arranged in fields and treated as a unit. The data for each item in an electronic database makes up a record.

Reference Collection
reference materials either provide specific information such as an address, a date, or a definition, or they have overview information on a subject, or they indicate sources for more information. The Reference Collection, on the first floor of the Library, is often a good place to begin academic research.

Reference Desk see Information Desk

an extension of the loan period for checked out library materials.

materials which a professor has placed on reserve for a class to use. These materials may be checked out at the Circulation Desk in the Library lobby; checkout periods vary. See also ONCORES


items which are published, regularly or not, on a repeating basis. Serials published at least once every five years are considered regular. If more than five years goes by between volumes, they are considered irregular. Periodicals are serials. Other examples are annual publications like the phone book. See also periodicals

serial publications that have a common theme or subject, usually issued in the same format by the same publisher

a computer connected to others which is used to share (serve) file resources (web or network files or both) among the connected computers

areas where large amounts of library material is shelved. One can speak of the reference stacks, the periodical stacks, the main book stacks, the documents stacks, etc.

stop words
common words that have no subject content, such as articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (at, by, of, on, with, etc.) and which are usually not needed in an electronic search statement.

subject headings
words or phrases assigned to books and articles and used to index these items by topic. Subject headings are also called descriptors. Determining the correct subject headings for a specific database or catalog is an important part of effective research. See also thesaurus.


a word or a phrase, may be a subject heading, title, or name of a person or group

a book written specifically for an academic course, often containing valuable summary information on a topic

list of all the subject headings or descriptors used in a particular database, catalog, or index, showing relationships among them

using a special symbol instead of the end of a word in an electronic search to retrieve all possible endings of that word. Sometimes truncation can be used within a word to retrieve variant spellings or at the beginning of a word to retrieve all prefixes.


Uniform Resource Locator
also referred to as URL; a unique address for a specific file available on the Internet.


Send comments and suggestions about this page to: Eva English
Last Updated: October 6, 2002