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Library glossary: General library & Camosun specific terms

Alphabetic index

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Definitions in English for these and other more "local" library terms are available below.



A summary of an article, a video or a book.

Academic journal

See: Peer reviewed
A program for viewing PDF files, used in many full-text electronic journals. The reader program is free.

Annotated Bibliography

A brief explanation (ranging from 2 or 3 sentences to 2 or 3 paragraphs) accompanying a reference or citation describing the scope or content and critical analysis of a particular work. See our research guide Annotated bibliography: how to create one for examples in APA, MLA and Chicago citation style.


A compilation of writings or poems from one or more authors focusing on a particular subject or literary form.

APA citation style

Guidelines, developed by the American Psychological Association, for preparing and formatting research papers and referencing sources in the behavioural sciences. APA is the preferred citation style for use in business, nursing, psychology and sport education courses at the college.  An APA style guide is available from the Library's website. 


A piece of writing on a particular topic. An example would be an encyclopedia article or a magazine or newspaper article.

Article Database

A list of periodical articles that allows the user to search for article citations by subject, author and often other terms. It is now common for libraries to provide online periodical indexes (sometimes referred to as Article Indexes or Periodical Databases). 

Periodical indexes range from the very general - e.g. Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) to specific disciplines e.g. Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) or group of disciplines e.g. Science Indexes. Some online periodical indexes contain the full article as well as the citation - these are often referred to as "fulltext" databases. Some examples are Academic Search Complete, Canadian Newsstand, CBCA. See alsoPeriodical Index


Online access to "live" librarians around the province. They will answer questions about research, help with finding books and articles on a topic or how to locate citation guides. See also: WriteAway

Audiovisual (A/V)

Library materials published in non-print format which includes sound and/or visual images. This category includes: films, CDs, DVDs, videotapes, audiocassettes, slides, media kits, and photos. See alsoVideorecording


A security system to identify an individual using a computer, usually based on a username and password. The Camosun College library uses your computer account for off campus login.



A list of written works by a given author or on a given topic.

Boolean Operator or Boolean Logic

Refers to the words AND, OR and NOT. Used to formulate complex searches in online resources. AND will narrow a search. OR will broaden a search. NOT will remove a concept from a search.


A program (i.e. Firefox or Microsoft Edge) that allows users to view information on the Internet.


Call Number

A combination of letters and numbers indicating the specific shelf location of a work in the library.
Example: LC 1390 .F35 1998


A library desk for individual study, often with side and back panels supporting a shelf.


A list of books, DVDs and periodicals that are located in the library catalogue. See: Single Search for a complete list of all these materials as well as our e-book and streaming video collections

Catalogue Record

A record which appears in an online catalogue that represents a book, journal or other item housed within the library. The record includes the bibliographic description of a specific item, the location of the item within the library, and the status of the item (checked out, available, etc.).

Check out

The act of borrowing materials from the library.

Checkout Desk

See: Library Services Desk

Checked out

In the library catalogue this location means that the item is currently being borrowed.

Circulation Desk

See: Library Services Desk


The information needed to track down a book, article, or other work. For books, this includes the author, title, place and year of publication. For articles, it consists of the author, article title, page numbers, periodical title, volume and date. Citing is the act of giving credit to an original source. Citations usually follow a particular format called a style (e.g. APA citation style, MLA citation style).

Cited by

The number of times a work or author has been referred to, or cited by, by another author, and where.  

Compact shelving

Type of library shelving using movable shelves to maximize storage capacity and space. Currently used at Lansdowne on the 1st Floor.

Copy card

Copy cards (or print cards) can be purchased to add money to your PaperCut print account.


The legal protection of the owner or creator (e.g. author, artist, etc.) of an original work (e.g. literary, artistic, etc.) to publish, reproduce, distribute, sell, or otherwise use the work. The copyright owner can also permit or prevent anyone else from using the work.

Corporate Author

All or part of the name of a corporate group or government agency responsible for creating a document, book, report, journal article, etc.

Course Reserves

Textbooks or other materials that can be checked out for short loan periods, usually 2 hours. They will be the current required materials for a specific class.

Courtesy Email Reminder

An email notice sent to remind patrons that an item is due back to the library soon. Usually these are emailed three days in advance of the due date. Courtesy notices are not sent for Items that have checkout periods of less than one week.


Cross-references are usually found in library catalogues, subject lists and thesauri. They are directions that lead you from one subject or name to the preferred one that is used in a catalogue or index. Cross-references can also lead you to broader, narrower and related terms.
Example: Body Language 
USE Nonverbal communication



An organized, searchable collection of information, often related to a specific subject area. One of the primary tools for locating periodical articles by topic. Most databases available through the library are licensed resources with access restrictions.


SeeSubject Heading


An item that has been returned to the library and checked in. The item will be on a book truck or returned to the shelves.


DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. DOI is a system of naming an object, similar to a URL for a webpage e.g. (opens in a new tab). Unlike webpage URLs that can change, DOIs are permanent URLs. See also: Persistent Links

Due Date

The date by which borrowed materials must be returned to the library.


Electronic Book (e-book)

A book that has been digitized and is available to read through the Internet. They are sometimes referred to as e-books, online books, or digital books.

Electronic Journal (e-journal)

An electronic journal that provides its content over the Internet. Some are accessible to anyone, but many others require purchase of a subscription. We maintain access to thousands of e-journals through our subscription databases.

Electronic Reserve (e-reserve)

Electronic reserves (e-reserves) are assigned course readings, notes, etc. that are accessible through the Internet. Items placed on electronic reserves consist of direct links to online resources. 


An embargo is the period of time during which the publisher of the journal withholds the content from the distributor of the title. During the embargo period the full-text of the articles are unavailable for online access and alternate forms of access must be explored.



An element of a record in a database where information such as Author, Title, Publication Date, etc. is provided.

Full Text

This term, usually applied to journal articles, means that the full article (the text and sometimes the illustrations) is available to read online. Full text articles may be available viewed as a webpage (HTML version) or PDF file.

Full Text Finder

A feature built in to many of our databases that provides a bridge between licensed database content and material that is available to users online, in print or through Interlibrary Loan.You can also "Request from another library"  if we don't have full text access here.


Government Document

Material published by local, regional, provincial, federal and international governments. 



A "hold" ensures that a library item on loan to another patron will be saved for you when the item is returned. Placing a hold is also a way to move a book from Interurban to Lansdowne and vice versa. You need to log in to your library account to place a hold.


A library's collection of materials. Items owned by a library (e.g., books, journals, newspapers, etc.).


In-text citation

Refers to a source that is referenced within the text of a paper, rather than in footnotes or endnotes. Information regarding the source is enclosed in parentheses. In-text citations refer the reader to the full citation for the source. The full citations are listed at the end of the paper. Also known as parenthetical citation or parenthetical reference.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan is the sharing of materials between libraries. When a library user needs material that is not available at their local library, they can usually obtain it through interlibrary loan.


An alphabetical list of names and subjects, with relevant page numbers, found at the back of most scholarly books. A useful finding aid to the contents of a book.


International Standard Serial Number. A unique number used to identify serial publications such as magazines and scholarly journals. Can be confused with a DOI but do not include it in a citation.


A single copy of a periodical. For example, the Canadian Journal of Sociology publishes 4 issues per year.



A periodical presenting articles on specialized topics, written by researchers or scholars. Many journals are indexed in a periodical index.


Keyword search

A broad approach to online searching that returns occurrences of a term from different parts of a record.



See: Research guides

Library Services Desk

The Library Services Desk is the place to get your College photo ID, check out and return library material, pay overdue fines, and get reserve readings. Library staff at the checkout desk can also sell you photocopy print credits ($2, $5, or $10).

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

A controlled vocabulary used to describe the contents of works in the library. Materials classified with Library of Congress call numbers use these subject headings. Subject headings form an important part of the library catalogue record and are used to search for items by topic in the online catalogue.

Licensed Resources

Internet-accessible databases and electronic journals that the library pays subscription fees to access.

Loan Period

The amount of time you may borrow a book or other item from the library. The time varies depending on the type of material borrowed.


MLA style

A format prescribed by the Modern Language Association for formatting research papers and citing sources in the humanities. A MLA style guide is available from the Library's website. 


A popular interest periodical usually containing articles on a variety of topics.  Most magazines are heavily illustrated, containing advertising and are printed on glossy paper.  Articles are usually short, frequently unsigned, and do not include a bibliography or references for further readings.  


A generic term for non-print library materials (films, slides, videorecordings, audiorecordings, CD-ROMs, DVDs, etc.).   See also: Audiovisual


A book that stands complete on its own and is not intended to be produced in series. See alsoSerial


Need by Date

Refers to the date after which the item will no longer be useful for your research. This information is required on all Interlibrary Loan requests. It does NOT affect the date when library staff will process your request. All requests are processed as soon as possible. 


A popular interest periodical containing current news, editorials, feature articles, and advertising which are written by journalists in a non-scholarly style. Most newspapers are issued daily, on certain days of the week, or weekly. Articles are usually short, often unsigned by individuals, and do not include a bibliography or references for further readings.  


Materials that may not be borrowed from the library. Included in this category are: reference books, current issues of periodicals, and special collections. Some materials in the library reserves may be deemed "non-circulating".



A library item that has been kept longer than the period allowed.  


A library item that is too tall or too wide to be shelved with the regular books.  In the Lansdowne library, the oversize items are located after the Z call number area. At Interurban, oversize books are on the top shelf in the assigned call number area.


PaperCut (also called Print credits)

PaperCut is the name of the system used at Camosun to track and charge for student printing and photocopying on campus.

Peer Reviewed

A process through which manuscripts submitted to a journal are evaluated for quality by one or more subject experts in addition to the editor before being accepted for publication.  Also known as refereedscholarly or academic.


A publication with a distinctive title, which appears in successive numbers or parts at stated or regular intervals. Includes journals, magazines, newspapers, or newsletters. E.g.: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Maclean's, Vancouver Sun.

Periodical Index

A list of periodical articles that allows the user to search for article citations by subject, author and often other terms. It is now common for libraries to provide online periodical indexes (sometimes referred to as Article Indexes or Article Databases). 

Periodical indexes range from the very general - e.g. Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) to specific disciplines e.g. Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) or group of disciplines e.g. Science Indexes. Some online periodical indexes contain the full article as well as the citation - these are often referred to as "fulltext" databases. Some examples are Academic Search Complete, Canadian Major Dailies, CBCA Complete.

Persistent links

Persistent links, permalinks, or stable links are permanent URLs to a specific journal or article within an electronic article database that can be saved and used for future reference. They are dedicated URLs that do not change.

Phrase Searching

In article databases, phrase searching allows you to combine keywords so that you only retrieve records in which the keywords appear next to each other in the order specified. To do this, surround the phrase with double quotations. E.g.: "hazardous waste".


An acronym which stands for Personal Identification Number, a code used for identification purposes in automated systems. Typically, the PIN is created by the system and can be changed by the user. PINs are used in many libraries and library systems to verify that a user is authorized to view his/her circulation account, renew books, place holds etc. A PIN may also be used to log on to online resources, such as periodical indexes and other databases.


Using another person's ideas or exact wording without proper documentation or representing someone else's creative work (ideas, words, images, etc.) as one's own, whether intentional or not, is known as plagiarism.

Primary Source

Material that provides a first-hand account of a subject or event. Examples include diaries, photographs, interviews, and original research studies. Sometimes referred to as original sources or source material.. See alsoSecondary Source.

Professional Journal

SeeTrade publication

Proxy server

A server that sits between a client application, such as a web browser, and a real server, containing the data to which the user requires access. It intercepts all requests to the main server. The function of the library proxy server is to allow remote web access to databases restricted by license to specific sets of users. The proxy server requires that the user provide some kind of authentication (usually a user ID and password), before permitting access to the main server containing the restricted access files.



The entry for a book, journal article or other piece of information in a database. Normally contains bibliographic information such as the title, author, and publisher information for the item.


A publication containing articles that have undergone peer review.


1) Sometimes used synonymously with citation, reference is used to refer a person to works cited or quoted within a document or to another part of the document (i.e. an index). 
2) In libraries the term reference may be used to describe the type of assistance a library staff person may provide. See: Research Help Desk.

Reference Book

A book designated to be consulted when authoritative information is needed.  Reference books are typically: almanacs, atlases, bibliographies, concordances, dictionaries, indexes, manuals, research guides, yearbooks and may include government documents.  Reference books do not leave the library.


To extend the period of time for which a book or other item is loaned by the library, usually by the length of the normal loan period. Can be done either online or in person. The number of renewals varies upon the item borrowed.

Research Article

The primary purpose of a Research Article is to present original findings, though these articles will also include a bibliography of other literature reviewed. These articles will usually be published in peer-reviewed journals and can be identified by looking for the following elements: an introduction, description of the research design, discussion of the data and methods, and bibliography. They are also sometimes referred to as “empirical studies.”

Research Help Desk

It is the place to go when you need help using the library. Also known as the Reference Desk or Information Desk.

Research Guides

A guide designed to assist the user in researching a particular discipline, topic or specific course. Will often include important reference books, periodical indexes, journals and other resources available at the library. Selected web resources are usually also included. 


Materials given a shorter loan length (2 hours, 72 hours, over night before closing) at the request of the instructor, to ensure that all students have an opportunity to use them. Fines charged on materials in the library reserves are high ($1.00 per hour).

Review Article

A secondary source that reports and summarizes other authors’ works for the purpose of reviewing the state of the literature on a particular topic. Review articles contain helpful bibliographies and can be excellent sources for identifying additional articles in an area of study.



See: Peer-reviewed

Search Query

The words or phrases used to conduct a search in periodical indexes, library catalogues, and the web. Sophisticated search queries include Boolean Logic, wildcards, and truncation.

Secondary Source

Works that are published or unpublished that rely on original research of primary sources as the source of their information. See alsoPrimary Source


Publications in any format that are published in a numerical or chronological sequence. They may appear in regular or irregular intervals and are intended to be produced indefinitely. Serials include newspapers, journals, annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.), and proceedings. See alsoPeriodical

Single Search

Single Search is Camosun's name for EBSCO Discovery Service, the main search box on the Camosun Library homepage. This search tool finds items from the library catalogue and many (not all!) of our databases. It presents one list of many types of information sources including journal articles, conference papers, books, e-books and more. By default, Single Search will only return results for items that are available at Camosun College, either online or physically in the library.


The area of the library that contains the books.

Study Carrel


Style Guide 

A set of rules for organizing research papers and theses, usually specific to a discipline or a group of related disciplines.  The style guide covers the mechanics of writing (punctuation, capitalization, etc...), format, and correct form of citing of sources.  Examples of style guides include: MLAAPA, and Chicago.

Subject Heading

The most specific word or phrase that describes the subject or the "aboutness" of an item.  Subject headings are selected from a list of preferred terms that may vary from database to database.  For example, the subject headings used in a nursing database will differ from the subject headings used in an education database. 



1) A list of synonyms that frequently includes related terms and antonyms 
2) A list of selected words or concepts for a specific subject area that uses a specialized vocabulary like medicine, education, business etc. Certain periodical indexes use thesauri (plural of thesaurus) like CINAHL.

Trade publication

A journal or magazine that contains articles targeted to people working in a particular profession, trade or industry. E.g.: Canadian HR Reporter is a publication intended for human resource professionals.

The published papers read at the meetings of a society or institution.  Sometimes used synonymously with proceedings.  The key difference between these terms is that transactions are the papers presented and proceedings are the records of the meeting.


Symbols that can be used to expand search queries. The * is one of the most common truncation symbols.  It is a good habit to always check the HELP feature of any catalogue or index to verify the symbol used. See also: Wildcard
librar* will look for
librarylibrarianlibraries etc.

Take care when truncating a word or your results will be confusing 
cat* will look for catcatscatapaultcatalogue and so on...



The generic term applied to items that have visual images accompanied by sound and are played back on a screen.  Included in this category are: VHS, videodiscs, DVDs and streaming video.  See alsoAudiovisual

Virtual Reference

See: AskAway


All the issues of a periodical published during a given publishing period (usually a calendar year).



A form of truncation. The symbol is used within a word to retrieve variant spellings. It is a good habit to always check the HELP feature of any catalogue or index to verify the symbol used.
See also: Truncation
wom?n will retrieve woman or women


Students can submit their work online and receive writing assistance. Qualified tutors from participating sites provide feedback on students' draft writing assignments.


Thanks go to TRU for allowing us to copy and edit their Library Glossary to suit our local needs!