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Glossary of Library Terms: Home

Glossary of Library Terms


Article A self contained essay on a topic. Articles are usually found in periodicals (newspapers, magazines, journals), encyclopedias or those books that contain collections of articles by various authors.
Available On the Seneca library catalogue, the word available tells you that a book has not been signed out to another student and is on the shelf.
Abstract A summary of the content of an article.
Audio-Visual Department The area within Seneca Libraries where all of Seneca's CDs, DVDs, videos and audio-visual equipment are available and can be requested.
Bibliography Lists all of the materials you have consulted in preparing your essay whether or not you have actually cited the work.
Call Number Letters and numbers printed on the spine of a book which determine where the book will be shelved and help library users find books. The call number groups books together according to their subject. University and college libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System where the call number consists of one or two alphabet letters followed by numbers.
CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory)
A computer technology that uses CD disks to hold thousands of pages of information.
Citation A citation contains information to help you find a book, video, DVD or an article from a periodical (a newspaper, magazine or journal). A citation for a book includes author, title, place of publication, publisher, and year. A citation for an article in a periodical includes author, title of the article, title of the periodical, page numbers and date.
Database A collection of information stored in electronic format. A database allows you to search quickly through quantities of information to find the information that you need.
eJournal or Electronic Journal This term refers to a periodical (journal, newspaper, or magazine) available in an electronic format. You can access eJournals by searching the databases available on Seneca Libraries or by searching the Library Catalogue.
Electronic In this glossary, we use "electronic" to mean available through computer (and often, through the Internet)
Encyclopedia A book or a set of books containing information about every branch of knowledge, or about one particular subject. The information in encyclopedias usually consists of articles arranged in order from A to Z. Seneca Libraries offers access to electronic versions of encyclopedias: Britannica Online and Canadian Encyclopedia Online.
Field In a database, a field is one part of a record and contains a particular category of information. A title search, for example, searches the title field in each record of the database.
Full-Text Database A database which includes the complete text of articles from some or all of the periodicals (newspapers, magazines, journals) that are listed.
General Collection The shelves in the library holding books that can be signed out. See also Reference.
Hit list In a database or library catalogue, a hit list is the search results list.
Hold Guarantees that a book signed out to another person will be saved for you when it is returned.
Holdings The materials (books, magazines, etc.) owned by the library.
Information & Research Services Desk Also known as Reference Desk (or Library Service Desk, at Seneca). Library staff at this desk will help you find information, and assist you in learning how to use the library catalogue and article databases.
Intercampus Loan (ICL) A request for an item from another campus within Seneca College. Intercampus loans for books can be requested from the library catalogue.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Borrowing a book or getting a copy of an article from a library outside Seneca College. Interlibrary loan forms are available online or at the Information and Research Services Desk. A book sent from outside Seneca takes up to two weeks to arrive.
Journal A periodical that contains research published as articles, research reports, or technical reports. An abstract and a bibliography usually appear with each article. Before publication, articles must be reviewed by experts in the field. Examples are Lancet, Journal of Psychology, Early Childhood Research Quarterly. See also Peer Reviewed.
Keyword A word describing an important idea which is part of a research question.
Keyword Searching Searching for information by using one or more words to describe what you are looking for. A keyword search on a research database or library catalogue searches the title, author, and subject fields of the item record. In a database, a keyword search may also search the text of articles.
Magazine A periodical containing articles of general interest; examples are Newsweek, Time, CanadianBusiness and Macleans. See also journal.
Multimedia The combination of print, sounds, graphics and video to present information on a computer.
Pamphlet A small book which has a paper cover and less than thirty pages.
Peer Reviewed

Articles in scholarly journals that have been evaluated experts in the subject are before publication.

Periodical Material published regularly such as magazines, journals, and newspapers.
Primary Source An account by an eyewitness, the first recorder of an event, or an original piece of fiction: for example, autobiographies, novels, diaries, letters, news footage, newspaper articles. See also Secondary Source.
Record In a research database or library catalogue, a record contains more information about an item such as a book or article.  For example, a book record would include the title, author, publisher, publication date, call number, etc.
Reference This word has two meanings:
1.) A service that provides help in finding information needed.
2.) Items such as encyclopedias, indexes, handbooks, directories etc. which are shelved together in the Reference area and cannot be signed out.
Renew The process of extending the loan period for library materials.
Request Request a book which is signed out to another student or is at another Seneca library.
Reserve Books or other materials set aside by instructors for use by students in their class. Reserve books have a shortened term loan period and are kept behind the Library Service Desk.
Search Statement A search statement is a combination of keywords used to search in a library catalogue or article database.
Secondary Source Any material that interprets, restates, or analyzes a primary source; examples are: textbooks, magazine articles, encyclopedias, literary criticisms. See also Primary Source.
Serial A library term for periodicals (magazines, newspapers, journals). This term is used in the library catalogue.
Signed Out When you see the words "signed out" next to the title of a book in the library catalogue, it means that someone has borrowed the book. You may place a request on the book.
Subject Heading A word or phrase assigned to materials on the same topic. Library catalogues and article databases assign subject headings to each item record. Subject headings may also be called descriptors and on a database may be listed in the "thesaurus". See also Thesaurus.

1.) A book of words and their synonyms (words with similar meanings).
2.) A list of all subject headings or descriptors in a database or library catalogue.

Works Cited An alphabetical list of sources used ('cited') in your research paper or project using the MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style.