Los Angeles Valley College

Library Vocabulary


These are commonly used library terms. Also included are a few Internet terms. For a more complete Internet glossary, visit Internet, Web Searching, and Netscape Glossary: http://www.lavc.edu/library/glossary.html


For terms in other languages  visit the Multilingual Library Glossary in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French and Spanish: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/about/sections/is/publicationsacrl/multilingual.cfm


For a complete glossary of library terminology visit ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science


Abridged Edition:

An edition shortened by re-writing, omitting, or condensing the original, but retaining the general sense.


A brief summary of a periodical article, conference paper, or a book that give the essential points. It also includes bibliographic information such as author, title, source, subject headings or descriptors, etc.

Academic Library:

A college or university library established, supported and administered by the institution to meet the information needs of its students, faculty and staff, offering materials supporting specific curricula, and research needs. In the United States, it is often organized according to the Library of Congress classification system.

Acceptable Use Policy:

This is the official policy statement regarding the use of a network or computer system.


The method by which a computer refers to records in a field, depending upon the arrangement of these fields.

Access Point:

a name, term, code, etc., under which a bibliographic record may be searched and identified.

Accession Number:

A unique number or combination of letters and numbers that are assigned to each record in a database.


A word made out of the first letters formed from the initial letters of a phrase. Example: ASAP = As soon as possible; NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Added Entry:

An access point other than a main entry. These may include a joint, or co-author, an illustrator, a title, a series, a subject, etc.


Annual publications that contain calendars, facts, statistics, and other miscellaneous information.


A designation made up of letters, numbers and punctuation. In libraries, most call numbers are alphanumeric.

Annotated Bibliography:

A list of works on a particular topic, with each entry accompanied by a note intended to explain, describe, or evaluate the publication.


A comment, evaluation, or description about an article or book that usually includes a brief content note.

Anonymous Posting:

A message sent out to a newsgroup, list serve or e-mail discussion group without revealing the identity of the sender.


A collection of literary works or extracts by one or more authors.


Supplementary information pertaining to, but not essential to, the completeness of a book; generally following the text.


A focused, local collection made up of items that describe and pertain to a specific organization, government, institution, or family. Archives are maintained and preserved as a part of the record-keeping process and usually collected in a separate physical location.


A brief discussion of a topic, that may include research, observation, information, etc. and that may provide references to additional materials on the same topic. Typically, articles are found in periodicals, newspapers, and encyclopedias.


Collections of maps, engravings, tables, etc, usually geographic in nature published in a volume.


An enclosure; a file(s) that is added to an e-mail. Files may be appended to any message on e-mail programs like Outlook Express, Eudora, and Netscape Mail.


An account of a person's life written by its subject.

See Also Biography.

Author Entry:

The name of a personal author used as an access point to a bibliographic record.

Authority File:

1) A set of agreed upon ways in which the proper names of individuals will appear on all records describing items by and/or about that individual. 2) An agreed upon set of terms describing subjects, so that a specific term is always used when applied to a subject.

Barcode Number:

The 14-digit number appearing on the back cover of library books. These codes are used to check-out or charge, discharge or check-in, and renew books in the online computer system. Barcode numbers for Los Angeles Valley College library books begin with the numbers "3376200.

Bibliographic Database:

A research tool that organizes and describes materials such as books, pamphlets, articles, and government documents.

Bibliographic Entry; (Bibliographic Record):

A formal set of descriptions of an item containing all relevant information, such as author, title, publication data, etc. that pertains to all copies of that single item. These descriptions are arranged according to a formula, each piece of information occupying its own section of the record, known as a field. Fields are arranged in a standard order, and a set of ordered fields makes a single bibliographic record.


A bibliography is a list of citations for books, periodical articles, web pages, or other materials where information on a specific topic can be found. Bibliographies provide citations that include author, title, publication date, etc. that allows individual items to be located. Bibliographies are usually included at the end of journal articles, books, or entries in reference books. Extensive bibliographies may also be published as separate works. Published bibliographies on specific subjects may be found in the library′s collection. Bibliographies that contain abstracts are called annotated bibliographies.


A list of works by various authors that includes brief biographical data.


A written account of a person's life, actions, or character or the group of literature concerned with people's lives written by another person. Biographical sources either contain these accounts, or assist in locating them.

See also Autobiography.


(1) An object that holds a reader′s place in a book or print document. (2) A method of "remembering" where you were on the World Wide Web. By clicking on the bookmark/favorites button on the Internet browser, and selecting "add" you save the address or URL of the web page you are visiting.

Boolean Searching or Operators:

Words such as AND, OR, and NOT (and sometimes AND NOT) that are used to combine search terms to broaden or narrow the results of a search in. They are called  “logical operators.” For example, if you wanted to find articles about Benjamin Franklin′s experiences as ambassador to France, you would search for Benjamin Franklin AND Ambassador AND France. "As" & "to" would not be used, since they would appear too many times and stop the search.

Here are some simple rules:

A AND B - Citations retrieved include BOTH A and B.

A OR B - Citations retrieved MUST contain A, OR B

A NOT B - Citations retrieved must contain A, but if B is also there, it will NOT be included.


Computer program, “window”, that provides access to the text and graphics of the World Wide Web. The browser reads documents and can fetch documents from other sources. Mosaic, Netscape, Explorer, and Opera are examples of browsers. They interpret markup language (HTML, SGML, and Java, for example), sit on a server and decode the language in which the original Web Page was designed.


Compact Disk-Read Only Memory. A computer-based technique for storing and reading information from a compact disk using a CD player and a personal computer. It allows access to the information, but will not allow any information to be changed. It can hold over 500 floppy discs worth of information. Some books come with CD-ROMs and may be checked out from the circulation desk for a two week loan period.

Call Number:

Combinations of letters and numbers that are assigned to a book to indicate its location on the shelves. They are used to keep items in order so that they may be found when needed. Call numbers also help to arrange materials by subject. Each item in a library collection is classified in a subject area by a classification system. The Valley College Library uses the Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. Call numbers are placed on the spine of the book to locate it in the stacks. Call numbers are entered on the records in the Online Catalog. (e.g., RA776 .H42 Sp 1999).

Case Sensitive:

Some URLs and other computer-accessed programs or activities react badly if what you type is in capital letters (upper case) when it should be in small letters (lower case) and vice versa. That means that ABC is different from abc. When using e-mail to converse with others, PLEASE use lower case letters except for emphasis.


A database, or computerized listing of the books, or records or holdings, of all of the nine Los Angeles Community College libraries.

see also Online Public Access Catalog


The act of attempting to prohibit or restrict access to materials or information.


Chatting is an activity in which two or more Internet users are on the World Wide Web typing conversations in REAL TIME. That is, you are conversing with someone else in a chat room (a space on the WWW that accommodates multiple parties transmitting messages to one another as a group or between individuals) via your computer. There is no "down time" as participants see the messages and respond (or not) immediately after receiving the message(s).

Children's Collection:

A special collection located in the Library where children's picture books are shelved.

Circulation Desk:

The service desk where books are checked out (loaned,) returned, and holds and recalls are put on items. It is also responsible for maintaining and circulating the course reserves as well as collecting fines.


A reference, or information, which fully identifies a publication or Web page. A complete citation includes the bibliographic information: author, title, name of journal (if the citation is to an article) or publisher (if to a book), and date. Web pages, in addition, include the URL and the date accessed. Often pages, volumes, and other information will be included in a citation. This information allows the ability to locate a book, magazine or journal article, web page, or other material. Style manuals or writing guides provide complete information on the correct form for citations.


A software program that is installed on the users computer. It allows the user to utilize the function and the capabilities of their personal computer, such as a mouse. Web clients are called browsers.


The second and subsequent authors with whom the first author of the document, book or article worked. Their names are often used as added entries in library catalogs. Authors appear in order of importance.

College Library:

see Academic Library


A person who has selected and collected a group of documents or other works to create a new work. Generally, these compiled items are the work of many different people, though compilers have compiled the works of a single author.


An individual who submits articles to a reference set or other collective work. The contributor is acknowledged with a personal name entry in a list of contributors. Generally, academic or professional credentials and place of current employment are included.

Controlled Vocabulary:

see Thesaurus


Legal way to protect ownership of a creative work, or intellectual property, by the artist, writer, or photographer who made it. By registering written work with the Registrar of Copyright at the Library of Congress, the copyright owner claims legal rights to this work, so that no one else can sell this work without permission of the copyright owner. Provides the copyright owner the exclusive right to authorize reproduction or other uses of the work for a specific period of time.

Copyright Date:

The year in which the author applies to the Library of Congress for a copyright on his/her book.

Corporate Entry:

The name of an institution, agency, or other organized group used in place of an author in a bibliographic record.

Crawler (AKA Spider/Wanderer/Bots):

An Internet tool that identifies and connects researchers to resources from the WWW, public FTP archives and Gopher documents. These programs can visit literally millions of web pages and other sites in search of materials that match your search criteria in a matter of seconds. They do this WITHOUT human examination of the items located, since the proliferation of Internet accessible information has skyrocketed. AltaVista and Google are examples of crawlers.

Cross Reference:

A term used in catalogs, thesauruses and indexes that leads from one term, or name, to another where additional or similar information may be found, as in “Use” or “See” or “See Also” (e.g., American poets see Poets American).

Cutter Number:

An alphanumeric code for a main entry (author) heading which forms part of the call number assigned to an item.


A collection of data or files of information arranged into individual records to be searched by computer. This term is often used to describe the electronic or computerized version of an index. An example of an online database is the library′s online public access catalog. CD-ROMs may also contain databases. In a sense, a database is a computerized library in which individual records can be retrieved.

Debit Card:

The printer for the computers do not take cash - but require money to be taken from a debit card. Debit cards may also be used on the photocopy machines. Debit cards can be purchased and money added to it at a machine near the photocopy machines. Note: the debit card, itself, initially costs $1.00.


A word or a group of words used as a subject to describe the content in books, articles, and other materials for the purpose of indexing or organizing these items by topic. As an important element of effective research, descriptors are needed to determine the correct headings for a specific database or catalog.

See also Subject Headings and Thesaurus

Dewey Decimal Classification System:

A classification system developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876, with call numbers ranging from 0 to 999, often used in public or high school libraries. It is an example of a system using decimal numbers.

See also Library of Congress Classification System


A book composed of an alphabetical listing of words with their meanings. Dictionaries often supply additional information such as pronunciation and usage. There are general dictionaries of English and other languages and specialized subject dictionaries in fields such as business, law, medicine, etc.


A systematically organized list of persons, businesses, organizations, or associations, which provides addresses, affiliations, telephone numbers, and similar information.

Discussion Group:

A topic focused group, like a news group or listserve, which can include bulletin boards, e-mail lists, etc. located on the Internet.


Publication reporting original research that is a requirement for a doctoral degree.

Document Delivery:

The provision of a required item to a user. Originally the physical supply of a book or journal. Now also includes delivery by photocopy, fax, e-mail, and other electronic means.


On the Internet, a part of a naming hierarchy. Syntactically, an Internet domain name, or address, consists of a sequence of names (labels) separated by periods (dots), e.g. "lavc/Library/index.html", the domain name for the Los Angeles Valley College Library.


The act of copying something from an external computer to a hard disk or floppy disk on a personal computer.


A book that can be viewed online.


A journal that can be accessed full-text online, either through the journal publisher's web site or through a database.


see Electronic Mail


All copies of a book issued by the same publisher on the same date. A revised or new edition indicates that the text has been changed or new material added. The new edition will have a new copyright date.


(1)A person who prepares for publication an item not his or her own. This may involve the direction of a staff of persons engaged in creating or compiling the content of the item.

(2)In computer science, software which creates, adds, deletes, and modifies data and/or documents.

Electronic Bulletin Board:

An electronic forum for sharing information. Typically supports public and private e-mail, uploading and downloading computer files, and access to online databases. Sometimes called a "BBS" - bulletin board system.

Electronic Mail (e-mail):

An online messaging service between computer users. An "e-mail address" looks like jsmith@laccd.edu (the part before the @ represents the local user, the part after is the "domain name" for the Los Angeles Community College District). Some of the more popular e-mail programs are Eudora and Outlook Express as well as those found with an online service, such as AOL. Free e-mail, from sites like Yahoo, Juno and Hotmail are also available.


A reference source containing informational articles that provide brief but thorough overviews of a range of topics; usually arranged alphabetically by subject, with an index volume to help locate subjects that don't have their own alphabetical entry. There are general encyclopedias that attempt to cover every subject imaginable, and there are subject-specific encyclopedias, such as the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. Some encyclopedias are available online, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.


An access point to a bibliographic record, by which the record may be searched for and identified.

See also Record


see File Transfer Protocol

Federal Depository Library Program:

A nationwide geographically-dispersed system, administered by the Superintendent of Documents, consisting of libraries acting in partnership with the United States Government. Established for the purpose of enabling the general public to have local access to Federal Government information at no cost.


A part of a record used for a particular category of data. For instance, the title field displays the title for each record in the database. Other fields in electronic databases or catalogs are author, journal, subject headings, and abstract. The library′s catalog contains additional fields that give the description, call number, location, holdings, and circulation status of an item.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP):

Internet application for receiving or downloading files from the Internet to one computer, or to upload or send files from one computer to another computer. Specific steps must be employed to make the files move, as well as to open these files.


A book exceeding 12 inches x 19 inches. Originally made from a sheet of paper that had been folded in half; A book made from paper this size was generally considered to be the largest book that could be made.


The section of the book in which someone other than the author talks directly to the reader, explaining purpose, or scope of the work.


The organization or arrangement of information in a particular display or print mode; the type or manner in which information is provided, displayed, or retrieved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

A set of responses to commonly asked questions and answers information for a particular Web or Internet site or activity. Usually intended for assistance to new users.

Full Image Files:

Scanned image files that are an exact replica of the original document (magazine article, government document, etc.) including all graphics, etc. The text is just another part of the image and is not searchable.

See also Full Text

Full Text:

Complete text in ASCII (or machine readable form). Every text word can be searched and not just viewed. The entire article is in the database; it can be printed or downloaded to a disk. Full text articles frequently exclude charts, photos and other graphic materials.

See also Full Image Files

GPO Access:

An online database from the Government Printing Office that both indexes and provides full text access to many recent federal government documents.


1) An interface to a complex online system; 2) A computer system that transfers data between normally incompatible applications or networks.


A dictionary of geographical information and data about places.


A list of technical words on a subject, with definitions.


Computer software developed at the University of Minnesota that enables an individual searcher to locate information at remote computers at other sites. Many former gopher sites are now set up as HyperText Markup Language (HTML) documents on the World Wide Web and are not as useful as they had been in the past.

Government Document:

A publication or any printed matter originating or printed by the authority of any office of a legally organized government body.

Graphical User Interface (GUI):

The system that allows pictures to be accessed over the World Wide Web.


A collection of information on a subject, meant to be a concise and authoritative reference.


Printed material as opposed to a digital (computerized) format.


A request for a library item that is currently checked out. This ensures that the person placing the hold will be next in line to receive the book when the book is returned. Holds are placed at the circulation desk. When the material is returned, the patron is notified that the book is being held for them.


A list of materials the library owns. It contains specific information that identifies a unique item in the collection. It may consist of a description, call number, location, material type, volume, or series number. The term is used frequently in connection with serials and periodicals. In that case, the holdings list which years and volumes of the periodical or serial the library has. Records for multi-volume books also contain a holdings field.

Hypertext -HTML:

Hypertext mark up language - a set of codes used to create Web pages so that graphics, text and other items can be read with a browser.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP):

This is the protocol that permits pictures, text, videos and sound to be transmitted from one computer to another over the World Wide Web.

IP Address:

Internet Protocol Address - A numeric address that is given to servers and users connected to the Internet. For servers it is translated into a domain name by a Domain Name Server (DNS).


International Standard Book Number. A unique ten-digit number assigned to every book before publication, e.g. 0146479928.


International Standard Serial Number. An eight-digit number assigned for uniquely identifying a serial, e.g.. 1786-5046.


The individual, who draws, paints, photographs or otherwise adds pictorial content to a work.


The publication information that describes where a book has been published, the name of the publishing body or company, and the date of publication and/or copyright issuance. This information appears on the title page of a book as well as in the descriptive bibliographic record.


A systematic guide to the contents of a file, book, document, or group of documents, in an arrangement that represents the contents, references, page numbers, etc. It can be an alphabetized list of the subjects, personal and/or place names, etc., that have appeared in a book. The list(s) refers readers to the page(s) of the book where that specific information will be found. Usually located at the back of the book, or, in the case of multi-volume sets, at the end of the last volume or in a separate volume. It can also be a reference to periodical indexes, which list articles that have appeared in journals, magazines, or newspapers during a specified period. An entry in an index usually includes the author(s), article title, name of periodical, volume and page numbers, and publication date. For example, the Los Angeles Times Index tells what articles are available on particular topics that had been published in the Times. Many indexes may also include abstracts, which are summaries of the content of the article. The Library has periodical indexes available in print or available online.

Information Literacy:

The ability to find, evaluate and use data in whatever format (print index, online database, Internet, etc.) it appears.


A worldwide network, or group, of computers that allows the "sharing" or "networking" of information at remote sites from other academic institutions, research institutes, private companies, government agencies, and individuals. Modems link these computers into a loose network.

Internet Service Provider (ISP):

The means for access to the Internet connected through fiber-optic or telephone cables. The Internet Service Provider runs the server that makes the connections.

Intralibrary Loan:

Intralibrary lending and borrowing services provide access to materials that are not held at the Valley College Library but are held by one of the other 8 colleges within the Los Angeles Community College District. To borrow these materials, check with a reference librarian.


A version of HTML that allows for activity on World Wide Web screens. Java must be enabled on the recipient's screen for the activity to take place.

Joint Author:

see Co-author


A “magazine”, or periodical that provides news, articles, reports, proceedings, or transactions on a particular topic. Scholars and professionals share their work by publishing in journals. They are usually published by an academic, association, society, institution, or organization press and the articles are more scholarly than in magazines.

See also Magazine, and Periodical

Keyword Searching:

Keyword searching is a method, or search strategy, that allows the construct of a search by looking for a word or combination of words from any field of a record (author, title, subject heading, abstract, text, etc.) instead of using the controlled vocabulary of the Library of Congress. It is a useful search when your information is incomplete or uncertain. The use of Keyword Searching on the Internet allows the description of a document in a natural language, as opposed to the controlled language of descriptor searching.


Generally, an individual with at least a bachelor's degree in a subject area and master's degree in library science.

See also Reference Librarian.


An agency established, supported and administered by a government, corporation, school system, university, agency or other larger body designed to answer the information needs of its primary population. Materials are obtained that to support the mission of that larger body. Personal, professional and research related information, at all appropriate levels and in a multitude of formats are collected, classified, organized and made available for current and future use. Assistance in locating and evaluating these items is generally offered. Libraries may make services such as Interlibrary Loan, Internet Access, story hours, and audiovisual listening areas available. Public, school, academic and special libraries, such as those in corporations and museums are some of the types of libraries found today in the United States.

Library Home Page:

The home page of the Los Angeles Valley College Library Web site. Its internet address is http://www.lavc.edu/library/index.html. The Library Home Page is place where Web users can connect to the Library catalog, electronic databases, learn about using the library, and conducting research.

Library of Congress:

The principal library of the U.S., located in Washington D.C. Most items published in the U.S. are collected by this library. The Library of Congress also provides services to other libraries such as publication of subject heading lists and cataloging of materials. The Registrar of Copyright is also part of the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress Classification System:

A classification system, with call numbers ranging from A to Z, often used in academic libraries developed by the Library of Congress. LC has established 21 classes that are subdivided into smaller categories. Most LC classes and categories can also be divided by time or geography.

See also Call Numbers

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

The system of subject headings used by the library to describe the content of books and other materials list in the library catalog. Lists of Library of Congress subject headings are located near the Reference Desk or can be browsed online at the web site for the Library of Congress.

See also Thesaurus


A "clickable" graphic or hyperlink or an image map. Pictures/images or text embedded in a web page that will connect you to another page if you click on them. These sometimes go one way, (you can hit the BACK key to return) but often you can follow these links to other places that offer you the information you are seeking.


Computer software that creates electronic conferences, or discussion groups, for individuals on the Internet on particular topics. Also known as a "mailing list." Any electronic mail sent to the mailing list is automatically resent, or broadcast, to everyone who has subscribed to the service. Membership is required to participate in these groups, but access to the discussion without contributing is sometimes available at the listserv address.

Local Area Network (LAN):

Computers sharing a single server delivered within a campus, business or other single site.


The general area of the library in which an item can be found. The location is designated in the record for an item in the library catalog. Locations given in the online catalog as Reference and Index Section parts of the reference collection. These materials remain in the library at all times, so they are always available.


Text-only browser for the World Wide Web.


A periodical publication for general interest such as news, current events, and popular material.

See also Journal.

Main Entry:

The official designation under which a library record is cataloged. It is usually the proper name of the author based on the authority file entry, or the proper name of the authoring body. It can be a work's title when no individual has primary responsibility for the work.


A book of rules or guidelines; a handbook.


A work written by hand, or the handwritten or typewritten copy of an author's work before it is printed.


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


Choices and commands that are displayed on the screen and can be selected by the user.


Individual cards storing photographic images. Each card may represent an entire issue of a publication.


Photographic images stored on a single reel, as in the case of an entire month of newspapers.


A general term used to describe the formats of microfilm, microfiche, or microcard used for the storage of documents. These documents, often are ones that are bulky or liable to deteriorate rapidly and which have been photographed and reduced in size to reduce the storage space required and to preserve them. These are then stored in cabinets allowing libraries to store them efficiently using minimal space. Special equipment enlarging the images and making it possible to copy them onto paper must be used to read the documents. This library collects materials in microfilm format.


A book or a text on a single subject - usually detailed in treatment.


See Browser and Graphical User Interface


Refers to the use of more than one media, usually in a computer presentation, such as combining text, video, photography, etc.

Natural Language:

A language used for looking up resources without employing a set of language rules. Ask Jeeves is an Internet search engine that uses natural language.


Expected politeness when communicating on the Internet. That includes writing in regular letters, not in capital letters, reading the FAQ of the sites you visit, etc.


A connected group of libraries that work together to share cataloging, resources and technologies.


A new Internet user or site visitor.

News Reader:

An Internet application with the ability to allow newsgroup participants to read and post messages. Both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator come with news readers.


A discussion group on the Internet which allows participants to read, post and reply to messages. There are over 30,000 newsgroups covering thousands of subjects. To connect with a news group you need a news reader.


A periodical issued at stated, frequent intervals (daily, weekly, or semi-weekly), containing news, opinions, advertisements, and other items of current, often local, interest.

See also Periodical

Newspaper of Record:

The newspaper that is considered most accurate and authoritative in a particular geographic region. The Los Angeles Times is the newspaper of record in the greater Los Angeles area.


Refers to a computer system that can be continually accessed. The Library catalog is an online system that provides access to the library′s collections.

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC):

The computerized version of a library catalog allowing for active searching from a single station. Materials may be searched for in a number of ways.


A publication which usually deals with a single subject and consists of only a few pages bound or stapled together within paper covers.

See also Vertical File

Pamphlet File:

see Vertical File


Secret combinations of characters that are required for security purposes to log into (or access) a computer or computer file.


A person using the library.

Periodical Index:

A tool that locates and lists articles which have appeared in journals, magazines, or newspapers. It is organized by subject and lists the author, title, name of periodical, volume, pages, and date of publication. Some indexes supply abstracts that summarize the content of articles. Indexes are located in the reference department and are available in a print format or in an online database.


Continuing publications which are issued on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc.) at least once a year, including journals, magazines, and newspapers. Periodicals can be bound, loose, on microform, or available on-line. The majority of the periodicals are kept in the Periodical Reading Room. Current periodicals are those that have recently arrived.

See also Magazines, Journals, and Serials

Periodicals Desk:

Service desk where you borrow periodicals and can get help locating them in the Library.

Physical Description Area:

The part of the record that provides the item-specific information. In the case of a book, the number of pages, location of an index or bibliography, presence of illustrations, would be included. In the case of audiovisual materials, time required to listen to or view an entire work, or whether an item is in color or not would appear.


Copying another person's work - claiming it as yours - without written acknowledgment to the original writer. Any time another person's work is used, you must provide a citation acknowledging that person. Plagiarism is considered theft, as the plagiarist has stolen without reference the intellectual work of another. In many colleges and universities, plagiarism is grounds for dismissal.


The part of the book that allows the author to discuss the origin, scope and intention of the book.

Primary Source:

Letters, diaries, manuscripts, records of a scientific experiment, or documents providing original research or documentation. The quality of "I was there" is essential. A scientific or scholarly journal article is usually a primary source.

See also Secondary Source


A set of communication rules defining the transmission and receipt of information over a network(s) or between computers. Specific to the Internet, rules governing the process by which computers interact.

See also File Transfer Protocol (FTP); Gopher Protocol; Hyptertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP); Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP); Telnet Protocol

Public Library:

A library supported by a town, city or other public entity that serves the entire population, from children through the elderly. Often, it augments school libraries, offers social and outreach programs and collects materials at the request of patrons. In the United States, most public libraries books are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System.

Public Services (department):

In many libraries, this department oversees all library services where staff members generally have direct contact with patrons.


The agency, company or organization that prints, distributes and sells a document.

Publication Date:

The year a book comes off the press and is offered for sale. This date is usually the same as the copyright date, but occasionally the copyright date is earlier.  Publication date is usually listed on the book's title page.


In printing or publishing, the size of a piece of paper that is one fourth a standard sheet of paper.


The right-hand page.


A collection of related data, arranged in fields and treated as a unit. The complete information for each item in the library′s catalog is also a record.

Refereed Journal:

Scholarly journals that publish articles that have been reviewed and evaluated by subject experts in the field.


A department within the library where you can find reference librarians and a collection of reference materials to help with research needs.

Reference Book:

A book designed to be consulted for specific facts rather than to be read through. Usually kept in the Reference Collection.

Reference Desk:

A public service desk staffed by reference librarians who can assist with questions about using the library or provide assistance with research. Librarians can help provide ideas for how to research topics or just help with use of the catalog. Books used for quick reference questions are also located at the reference desk.

Reference Collection:

A selection of library materials used by reference librarians to help people find information for specific questions or to assist with the beginnings of the research process. Reference collections contain many sources of information, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, directories, statistical compilations, atlases, and more. They may also have bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts. Reference materials usually do not leave the library. Locations given in the online catalog as Reference and Index Section parts of the reference collection.

Reference Librarian:

Reference librarians are specialists in the field of information retrieval. Generally they have a Masters degree in library science, and many have other graduate degrees as well. They are available at the reference desk to help find the information needed and assistance with the use of the library.


A two week extension of the loan period for borrowed library materials. Renewals must be placed in person at the circulation desk.


See Hold

Reserve Reading:

A selection of specific books and periodical articles that instructors have indicated that students must read for a particular course. Additionally, materials that are very popular are put on reserve. Books on reserve are held at the circulation desk and periodical articles are kept at the periodical circulation desk. They circulate for two hour loan periods only and must be used in the library. They may be photocopied. To locate reserve materials, you may use the course reserve listing at the circulation desk, ask at the circulation or reference desks, or look up a title in the online catalog.

Resource Sharing:

Ways in which libraries work together to make resources available to patrons.

Search Engine:

On the World Wide Web, this tool quickly matches terms that have been input to find specific information. Humans have not examined the web pages one finds through these tools. Examples include (but are not limited to: Google, Alta Vista, Northern Light Search.)

Search Strategy:

A logical series of steps for planning and preparing an efficient way to collect pertinent information on a given topic. A search strategy varies depending upon the topic, the nature of the subject, and what types of information is needed. Steps include: Identifying potentially useful sources, choosing appropriate tools, locating the information, evaluating the information, revisiting tools or revising the search.

Secondary Source:

Materials or sources that contain information that has been cited, translated, or based upon another primary or original source. These may explain, discuss or review a primary source. They may also use primary sources to create, check or otherwise re-assess information.

See also Primary Source

See Also"  Cross-Reference:

A suggested term related to the concept a patron has initially identified. Indexes, catalogs and other directories may offer these terms to help a researcher change or expand a search for information.

"See" Cross-Reference:

A designation that tells a patron where to search for a specific term. When a subject authority file is used, all concepts that are similar are identified. When patrons use a term that is NOT in the subject authority file, but that HAS been identified, they will be instructed to look for the term selected from the subject authority file.


Similar to periodicals, they are publications issued at regular intervals daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or biennially intended to be continued indefinitely. They include periodicals (which are a subset of serials) as well as annual publications, directories, proceedings, and transactions.

See also Periodicals


A common title assigned by a publisher to a group of monographs sharing the same subject or theme. They are a regularly or irregularly published set of works to which a publisher has assigned a group title. These often are published over time. Each publication will have its own title.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP):

The rules behind e-mail allows users to send and receive messages, files, and in some cases, graphics to electronic mail boxes. Browsers often incorporate SMTP into their programs.

Special Collections:

Library collections held apart from the main collection to meet some need regarding service, protection, or convenience.

Special Library:

A library supported by a business, industry, special interest group, museum, etc., which serves the employees or members of that organization and which subscribes to the mission of that organization by collecting materials that satisfy the needs of the users mentioned above.


The physical part of the book that hold the front and back covers together. When wide enough, the book title appears on the spine. Libraries generally place call numbers on the spines of books.

Stacks (Shelves):

The stacks are the part of the library where the books are kept. Books are arranged on shelves in the stacks in order by the Library of Congress classification system.

Stop List:

A list of words, terms, or roots of words or terms to be ignored in indexing or information retrieval, e.g. a, an, the.

Style Manual:

Handbooks which describe how to prepare a document, usually a research paper or other scholarly writing and includes citations and quotations, punctuation, spelling, abbreviations, page layout, grammar and usage, organization, and research strategies. Some widely-used style manuals: Turabian; the Publications Manual of the APA (American Psychological Association); and the MLA Handbook (Modern Language Association). There are also some style manuals specifically for electronic resources. Copies of current style manuals are available at the Reference Desk and the Reserve Desk.


The topic or concept primarily dealt with in a book, article, audiovisual item or other resource.

See also Subject Heading

Subject Directory:

On the World Wide Web, this tool quickly matches terms that have been input to find specific information. This tool also provides categories from which to choose, thus limiting the topics that are being considered. Humans have examined the web pages one finds when using these tools. Examples include but are not limited to: Librarians′ Index to the Internet (lii.org).

Subject Guides to Literature:

A list of sources directories, indexes, journals, and other reference works for the literature of a specific discipline or subject area.

See also Bibliography

Subject Headings:

A set of terms that make up a controlled vocabulary. This vocabulary is assigned to all the works dealing with a specific subject. It usually is applied together with a call number system and is used to catalog items in a library. Determining the correct headings for a specific database or catalog is an important part of effective and efficient research. Sometimes subject headings are called descriptors.

See also Descriptors and Thesaurus

Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) Classification System:

A classification system used to organize and arrange U.S. government documents, or publications. Publications are grouped by government author, the various departments, bureaus, and agencies being considered the authors.


See Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol

Table of Contents:

A list of chapter headings, sections, and other parts of a book with reference to pages they begin; an outline of a book's contents generally in the front part of a book.

Technical Services (area):

The section of a library where the cataloging and processing of materials takes place.


A basic protocol on the Internet to allow remote login to a machine. Telnet allows the user to actually give commands on another machine as if he/she were sitting at that computer. A special type of telnet, known as TN3270, is required for telnetting to some IBM computers.


An electronic device such as a computer or a workstation that communicates with a host computer or system. The terminal can send or receive data as well as display output in either on screen or in a print format.


The main body of a book as differentiated from notes, appendix, preliminaries, index, etc.


A list of all words or group of words that can be used as subject headings or descriptors used by a particular database, catalog, or index. The thesaurus for the Los Angeles Valley College Library Catalog is called the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

See also Library of Congress Subject Headings


A form of Spanish punctuation used to indicate through the URL of a web site that it is part of a larger agency. Generally, it indicates a relationship, but probably not an official one, with the larger body. It looks like this: ~.


The name of a book, audiovisual item, periodical, serial, etc.

Title Page:

The first important part of a book. Information given there usually includes: author's name (or editor's name), title, edition if there is one, and the publisher and place published.  The back of the title page, or verso, usually has the copyright date.


Words, names or phrases preceded by Arabic numbers or Roman numerals that are found at the end of a bibliographic record. These terms offer other ways of seeking information by identifying the subject headings under which a work has been cataloged, the co-authors, who have contributed to a work, etc. Tracings create a trail for researchers to follow.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP):

Communication protocol that is the standard for connecting networks and computers on the Internet. Electronic mail, telnet, and FTP are the three main TCP/IP applications.


Allows you to find records that contain varying forms of search terms. While searching the Valley College Library Catalog, use the number symbol (#) to replace a single letter in a word being searched, Use “wom#n” to find records containing “woman” or “women”. The question mark symbol “?” replaces an unlimited number of characters. Use “plato?” to find records containing “plato”, “platonic” of “Platonist”. other databases may use the pound sign (#), the asterisk (*), or another symbol.


Multitasking, multiuser operating system originally developed in the 1960s by AT&T. Ideal operating system for running computers that offer simultaneous access to many users, while also capable of performing many different tasks at the same time.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator):

Web address or Web site on the World Wide Web. No two are alike, and upper/lower case must be observed. It includes the protocol host computer or server name, domain name, the directory name, and the type of file name being used. The Los Angeles Valley College Library Homepage URL is http://www.lavc.edu/library/index.html


Internet facility for public dialogue in the form of topical discussion groups.

See also Newsgroups

User Friendly:

Easy to use format implying the dialogue or interface capabilities between a computer user and the computer is simple to understand.


Left hand page. Usually used to mean the opposite side of the title page.

Vertical File:

Also known as the Pamphlet file. A collection of materials published and distributed by governments, agencies, organizations, interest groups and individuals covering a variety of topics. Generally, these are too ephemeral because of date, size of document, or other consideration to be cataloged and incorporated into the cataloged collection. They are housed in file cabinets, usually according to subject or category.

Virtual Library:

Library and information services are provided electronically to users, through networked document delivery and access. Often used to refer to networked access to conventional library resources.


Harmful computer program capable of replicating itself by infecting other programs and computers. A virus can interfere with operation of the computer, or can destroy the contents of computer files. Viruses can be transmitted via floppy disks or computer programs that are downloaded from the network.


A set of books with successive numbers, and how they're referenced in a citation. In bibliographic terms, a major division of a work.

Web Page:

A document on the World Wide Web. Every Web page is identified by a unique URL. Sometimes used interchangeably with Web Site.

World Wide Web (WWW):

A client-server information system that uses the Internet to access computers containing billions of hypertext documents. The WWW can transmit text, graphics, sound, and video. For definitions of World Wide Web and Internet terminology, see Internet, Web Searching, and Netscape Glossary:


An annual compendium of facts and statistics on a particular subject for the preceding year.