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Glossary of Library Terms:  

We try to avoid using library jargon on this website and when we talk to library users, but sometimes we just can't help it.

Library Terms

A short summary of an article, book, etc., that can help you figure out if it contains the information you are looking for. Research databases often have abstracts to help you decide which articles to read.
Bookdrop, Book Return, Book Depository
A slot or chute through which you can deposit library materials you wish to return. We have a slot in our Circulation Desk and also a depository on the front of the building next to our entrance.
Call Number
A call number is like an address for a book on the shelf. In the system we use (the Library of Congress Classification System), it is actually a combination of letters and numbers. Call numbers for books are assigned according to what the book is about, so that books on the same topic are shelved together. It's called a call number because in some libraries, it's what was "called" to a library worker who retrieved a requested book. See our call number guide for more information about reading call numbers and finding books on the shelf.
Describes books and other materials that can be borrowed from the library.
1) Activities related to the lending of library materials to patrons. 2) The library department that provides these services. 3) The Circulation Desk, located near the front entrance, is where you go to check out books, borrow equipment, get Reserve Collection materials, and pay fines and fees.
Information about a periodical article, book, video, etc., that can identify and help you locate that particular work. A citation can include information such as the title of the article or book, the author, the periodical in which an article was published, the date of publication, and page number. See our citation guide for more about creating citations in the common styles.
Broadly defined, a database is a collection of records with information, and some means of searching those records for specific information. Library research databases are computerized information-finding tools, such as the library catalog or the online services we subscribe to from companies like EBSCO, Credo, and ProQuest.
Electronic resources are any information sources available through a computer system, such as electronic versions of journal or magazine articles, books, or book chapters that come from online research databases; streaming videos; or websites.
An electronic version of a periodical article or part of a book, that you get from an online research database. It might be formatted as a web page with the text and sometimes the illustrations from the original article, or it might be provided as a PDF which looks like the original printed article. The term "full-text" is also used to refer to databases that contain full-text content, or to periodical titles for which full-text content is available in a particular database.
An item (article, book, etc.) found in a database search. As in, "We'll have to try different search terms, because that last search only got three hits."
A request for a book or other item that is checked out, so you can get it when it comes back (or puts you on the waiting list if several people want it). More details on placing holds.
Books and other materials owned by the library. Also includes electronic resources.
1) When referring to types of research databases, an index lists articles about different topics, but doesn't provide the actual full text of the article. 2) A list of topics at the end of a book that gives page numbers of where the topic is addressed in the book. 
International Standard Book Number – used in the publishing industry to identify specific book versions. You can search by ISBN in the online library catalog, but be aware that different versions of the same book (for example, paperback and hardcover) will have different ISBNs. You can't use an ISBN to physically locate a book inside the library – you'll need a call number to do that.
Intra-System Loan – a service of the University of Hawaiʻi libraries. Students, staff, and faculty can request that library materials from other UH libraries be brought in to be borrowed. More details on requesting ISLs.
An individual book, videorecording, or other type of library material. If we had multiple duplicate copies of something, each copy counts as an item.
Library Catalog
The computer system that lets you check to see what books, videos, and other materials are available in the library's physical collections. Many of the library's electronic books are also in the catalog. The Primo search system serves as our library catalog. The online library catalog is the successor to the old card catalog.
Describes books and other materials that cannot be borrowed, such as books in the Reference Collection. They have to be used in the library.
A person who uses a library.
Peer Review
A peer-reviewed journal (also called a refereed journal) is a type of scholarly periodical that uses a rigorous review process to choose the articles it publishes. Articles written by scholars and researchers are submitted to the journal for consideration. The article is reviewed by other experts in that field, who help to determine whether or not the article will be published or needs revision. This process can take months, but the final published article is considered to be highly credible. More about scholarly and peer-reviewed literature.
Periodicals are publications like magazines, journals, and newspapers.
A recall is a request to have a book that is checked-out called back from the current borrower. This is usually done when a faculty member has a book checked out for an extended period of time, and someone else needs it before it is due to be returned. Recalls can be initiated by submitting a request through the library catalog.
1) The Reference Collection contains books that are used look up specific facts or other types of brief information. Books in the Reference Collection cannot be borrowed. 2) Materials you might find in a reference collection, like dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, and handbooks. 3) A service where librarians assist people with finding information and learning research skills. 4) The Reference Desk is where librarians are stationed to provide reference service.
To extend the loan of a library item that you have borrowed. It's like re-borrowing the item so you can have it for another loan period. There is a limit to how many times you can renew an item. Some items cannot be renewed. You won't be able to renew if someone else has made a request for that item.
The Reserve Collection has class readings that are made available to students at the request of instructors. Some items are provided by the instructor, and some are items from the library's collection. Most items on reserve must be used in the library, while some are available to be borrowed for three days. For more information, see the Course Reserves page.
Scholarly Literature
Books and articles written by scholars and researchers to advance knowledge in an academic field by reporting on their work to others in their field. Many scholarly journals use the peer review process to choose the articles they publish. More about scholarly and peer-reviewed literature.
The rows of bookshelves that hold the library's collections.
Technical Services
"Technical services" is an old, traditional library term that refers to the processing department that orders books and other materials, puts them into the library's collection, and enters information about the materials into the library catalog so researchers can find them. They also remove damaged or obsolete materials from the collection, and keep other records for inventory management purposes. Our Technical Services department also manages our subscriptions to electronic research databases. They do not provide technology services – please don't call them if you're having problems with your computer.
There are two ways we regularly use this word. 1) The name of a book, video, magazine, article, etc. 2) To refer non-specifically to unique books or other works. For example, if we do a search in the library catalog, and get a list of five different books as a result, we might say we found five titles. If we found only one book, but had two duplicate copies of that book, that would count as one title, two items.