Picture of a computer with booksIntroduction to Library Research



Glossary Of Library and Research Terms

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Note:   The words that appear in bold in the text of the definitions are also explained in this glossary. 


A short summary of the information contained in a book, article or other information source.  Periodical indexes often include an abstract, along with the citation, as an aid to determining the usefulness of the content.  EBSCOhost, for example, often provides the abstract of an article. Compare with: Annotation 


A shortened version of a name created from the initial letters of each of the words in the official, multi-word title. For instance, PAC is the acronym for Public Access Catalog (the library’s online catalog).


The original purpose of the almanac was as a calendar with daily and seasonal information.  Today, this source has become a compendium of miscellaneous facts, charts and statistics relating to a particular date.  See also:  Reference book.

Alphabetic order

To organize by an alphabetical arrangement.  There are two methods of alphabetizing.  The letter-by-letter system ignores punctuation and spaces between words.  The word-by-word system organizes by the first word, then the second word, and so on.  Here is an example:

                                    Letter-by-letter                                              Word-by-word
                                    Bookcase                                                      Book club
Book club                                                      Book fair
                            Bookend                                                       Bookcase
Book fair                                                       Bookend

“And” search

A form of Boolean searching that allows a searcher to combine two or more concepts or words by placing an “and” or a “+” between each word.  This search method narrows the topic by requiring that all words or phrases connected by “and” appear in the results.  See also: Boolean searching, Logical operators, and Nesting.


A brief description of a book or journal article which may occur after the citation in a bibliography.  An annotation differs from an abstract in that it includes an evaluation of the source and a summary of the conclusions, in addition to a short synopsis of the content.


Documents or text that enhances the reader's understanding of  the material covered in a book or other information source, but that do not need to be included in the main body of the work.  This material is often included at the end in one or more appendices.  Some examples are historical documents, statistical tables, or explanatory notes.


A collection of maps, plates and other visual representations of geographical areas that illustrate the location of physical  features such as rivers,  mountains; political  features such as capital cities, country boundaries, and/or demographic characteristics such as population density,  chief products, etc.  See also: Reference book.


In libraries, only one form of a personal name, title or subject is used in the library catalog.  If there are variations, only one form of the name, title or subject will be selected in order to insure consistency and easy access.  For instance, all books by and about “Mark Twain” will be found under his pen name, rather than his given name, Samuel L. Clemens.   

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