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Library Glossary: Home

Library Terms

Terms used in the University Library may be confusing. Use the following glossary to find out the meaning of unfamiliar library terms. 

Library Glossary

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Abstract: A summary of an article or paper. It often appears at the beginning. 

Authentication: A security process of verifying the identity of users before allowing them to access certain information. 

Available: A term used in the catalogue to indicate that a library item is currently free for borrowing. 


Bibliography: A list of source materials (such as books, articles, reports, news articles and etc) used in writing a research paper or other document. See also References

Boolean operators​: Connecting words like AND, OR, and NOT are used to combine search terms to either narrow or broaden search results. 



Call number: Each item in the Library has a label (usually numbers) that indicates the location of an item in a library collection. 

Catalogue: Records with detailed descriptions, availability status and location information for the books, journals, audiovisual and other materials in a library collection. It is available online

Citation:  A brief description of a book, journal article, or other work containing elements such as title, author, year, publisher and etc to identify and locate that work.

Curriculum collection: The Fisher Curriculum collection is very useful for education students. It includes books, kits and other teaching resources especially designed for primary and secondary schools.


Databases: Are searchable online collections of resources. The Library subscribes to many databases relevant to your study and research. Most of them are full text available. You can find the databases page here

Dissertation: A long essay written on a subject submitted by a graduate as a requirement for a University degree. See also Thesis

DOI (Digital Object Identifier):  It provides a persistent link to the electronic form of a document. It is made up of letters and numbers. It helps to identify online material such as journal articles, books and chapters, conference papers, reports, and so on. 


Editor: A person or group responsible for collecting pieces of writings by different authors and compiling them for publication. 

Encyclopedia: A reference book or a set of reference books containing information on all the subjects or limited to a special field or subject. It often has entries or articles arranged alphabetically. 

EndNote: A reference management software tool that enables you to collect, organise and cite while you write. Find more information here


Full text: The electronic copy of an entire resource, usually an article or a book viewed on a computer display screen.


Grey literature: Materials that have not been published commercially and are not available via major databases are considered to be grey literature. This information may not have been published formally at all, and may not be peer reviewed. Grey literature includes reports, conference papers, clinical guidelines, registered trials, theses and dissertations, informal communication, websites, official documents, newsletters, and patents.


Hold: A borrower's request for a book checked out to another borrower. It will be held on return and can be collected from the 'awaiting pickup' shelves.


Index: 1. A list of names or topics listed at the end of a publication that indicates the pages where those names and topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A print or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author or other search terms.

Interlibrary loan (ILL): Library service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through the University Library. See also Resource sharing.



Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which includes scholarly articles, papers, research reports or technical reports. See also Periodical


Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term appearing in title, abstract or text of an information resource. It is often used as a search term.


Library loans: The items borrowed from a library. 

Live Chat​: It is an instant messaging service that enables you to ask questions and talk to the Library staff in real-time. 


Microform: A reduced sized photographic reproduction of information on reel to reel film (microfilm)  or film cards (microfiche) that can be read with a microform reader. Fisher Library has two ScanPro 2000 scanners on Level 1 near the microform compactus area. No need to pre-book. 

Multimedia: An information resource represents information using more than one media (print, picture, video or audio).


Off-campus access: Accessing the Library resources when you are not at the University campus.  


Peer-reviewed journal: A journal where the articles published within it have been reviewed by experts in the same subject area. The peer reviewed process ensures the quality of a journal. 

Periodical​: A publication issued on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, or biannually). See also Journal

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is copying someone's work or using someone's ideas without proper referencing. Plagiarism is an act of fraud. 

Primary source: An original source that closest to the original event, research or experience.


Reading list: A link to your unit of study readings is located in your CANVAS or Blackboard site. The link is called Reading list and shows both online and print books, journal articles and other materials your lecturer wants you to read and view. 

Recall:  A request for the return of a library item before the due date. See also Hold.

References: References can also be called citations and are listed in a bibliography or reference list at the end of a publication. References contain all the information necessary such as title, author, publication details and so on to identify and locate that work. See also Bibliography

Renew:  A request for extending the due date of an item borrowed from the Library. 

Resource sharing:  Library service that enables staff, postgraduate students, honours students and Undergraduate students (with a limit of 10 requests per year) to access materials not held in our collection


Secondary source:  Material on analysing primary sources. Usually it provides an evaluation or interpretation of data and evidence found in primary sources. 

Stacks: Book shelves in a library where materials are stored. Books in the Library are arranged by Call number

Style manual: Referencing style guidelines for students and researchers who are writing assignments or research papers. It outlines specific formats for arranging research papers and citing the sources that are used in writing the paper. e.g. APA 6th publication manual 

Subject heading: A description assigned to a topic or subject. It often appears in the catalogue record. Also called a descriptor or controlled vocabulary. 


Thesis: It is a lengthy scholarly essay submitted for a University degree. See also Dissertation


Uniform resource locator (URL): A unique webpage address which is used in locating it. A URL consists of the access protocol (http), the domain name (e.g. and often the path to a file or resource residing on that server. 


University of Southern California Library (2018, June 15). Library terminology: Glossary of library terms. Retrieved from

University of Tasmania Library (2018, May 8). Library glossary. Retrieved from

Translations of the Glossary

Keyboard Symbols

You may find it hard to catch up with the Librarians when they demonstrate search operators, as you don't know the English names for the keyboard symbols. Please check the following PDF file to find out their English names.