Library Lingo

Do you sometimes feel that library staff speak a different language than you? Find definitions of some common library terms.


A brief summary of a journal or research article, book, speech, or other material to help the reader quickly grasp the contents and purpose.

A reference book, usually published annually, containing lists, charts and tables of useful factual and statistical information either on a wide variety of topics or a single subject.

Annotated Bibliography
A bibliography that includes a brief description of each article or book listed. The description should help the reader evaluate the content and usefulness of each item.

A collection of works (poems, stories, articles) by various authors and collected in a single volume.

Documents created by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved for their historical value. Also the location where archival materials are kept.  The UTSA Archives  is located at the HemisFair Park Campus.

The creator of information.  The author can be the writer of a book or article but also includes editors, directors, painters, illustrators, or actors.


Bibliographic Record
An individual record in a database that describes and identifies a specific item (such as a book or journal) by fields (e.g., title, author, publication date, etc.).

Bibliographic Database
An organized digital collection of references or citations to published information, with or without the full text of the item, which can be searched by techniques specific to each database. 

A list of citations to journal articles, books and other materials on a particular subject or by a particular author. A list of references given at the end of research reports, journal articles, and books.

Boolean Operators (logical operators)
Terms such as "and," "or," and "not" used to express the relationship of one term to another when searching databases.

    violence AND television -- (finds ALL keywords)
    violence AND (television OR media) -- (finds 1st keyword and either one or both other keywords)
    violence NOT television -- (finds 1st keyword, excludes the other)

Bound Journal
Several issues, often a year's worth, of a journal or magazine titles, that are fastened together (bound) between hard covers, given a call number, and shelved with the regular book collection.  

Software program used to view and interact with various types of Internet resources available on the Internet. Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer are three common examples.


Call Number
The unique combination of letters and numbers on the spine of each book in the library to group materials by similar subjects and enable the material to be found on the shelves. For broad subject classification, see Library of Congress Classifications.

A searchable online database of all the items owned by a particular library, including books, e-books, journal titles, DVDs, videos, maps and other materials.  

The department in the library responsible for entering all the information to find library materials.

Another term meaning "checked out."  (see below)

Chat Reference
A service for patrons to ask questions of library staff through chat.  

Checked out
A term indicating that a particular item is on loan to another patron. 

Circulation Desk
See Front Desk.

A reference or footnote to a book, article, or other material that contains all the information necessary to identify and locate the work. A book citation includes author, title, publisher and year of publication; a journal citation includes author, article title and periodical title, date, volume and page numbers of the particular article. This is the information you will need to write your bibliography.

Controlled Vocabulary
Assigned standardized terms used in searching a specific database or catalog. These terms will differ for each database. Sometimes called "subjects" or "descriptors."

Legal privilege granted to an author, composer, etc. for exclusive rights of publication and distribution of a work. Libraries have a special interest in fair use of copyrighted material.

CORAL (Council of Research and Academic Libraries)
A consortium of libraries in San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin and Kerrville formed to develop and strengthen information and research resources and services in the greater San Antonio and South Texas area through the development of cooperative programs and services.   CORAL website 

Curriculum Collection
A collection of materials intended for use by pre-K through 12 classes located on the JPL 3rd Floor after the Z's.  Curriculum Resources Research Guide


An organized collection of information, data, or citations stored in electronic format that can be searched for specific information or records by techniques specific to each database.

Default Operator
The specific relations between words (and, or, phrase) that is assumed by a database if none is specified. This can have a major impact on how the words you enter are searched.

Another word for subject heading used in many electronic journal databases.

A text written in completion of requirements for a doctoral degree at a university.  The online index is available through the database ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global and Dissertations and Theses @ UTSA . Also see the Dissertations and Theses Research Guide

Government publications.  See Government Documents. 

DUO Authentication
As a part of a continued effort to protect data across UT System libraries, a second layer of security has been added to accessing databases and other digital resources on the libraries' website. more information


A person or group responsible for compiling the writings of others into a single information source or book.. Editor's name can be searched under "author" to retrieve books. 

A book or set of books of information articles usually arranged in alphabetical order.  Can be print or electronic.

A short literary composition on a single subject expressing a personal view.


Fields (Electronic databases)
A particular section of a bibliographic record, containing specific information such as the author, title, or publication date of an item.

Refers to oversized books and materials. 

The physical form of information as opposed to the content. Examples of formats include books, e-books, journals, newspapers, DVDs, videos, microfiche and microforms.

Front Desk
The counter where patrons check out and return library materials. Renewals, recalls, reserves and interlibrary loan requests can also be handled here. 

Full-Text Database
A database where contains the entire text of an article, book or other material to view, print or downloaded directly from the computer.


Get It For Me
A free service for current UTSA students, faculty and staff to request books, articles and other materials from other libraries and locations. Forms and more information on requesting materials available online.  Also called Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Government Documents
Any materials published by a local, state, federal, foreign or international government including books, serials, statistics, reports, bills, pamphlets, maps, microforms, CD-ROM or web pages. Also called government publications or just documents.


Results or list of citations retrieved from a search in an electronic database.

A service provided by the Library where a patron can put a "hold" on an item that is checked out to another patron.  This can be done through Get It For Me.


A printed or electronic publication that lists citations to journal articles, books or other materials.

Information Desk
Service area or reference desk in the library where patrons can get help from library staff in using the library, locating library materials, searching library databases and answering general questions.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
A service that allows current students, faculty and staff to request books and articles from other libraries if the material is not available at UTSA Libraries. Forms and more information on requesting materials available online.  Also called Get It For Me.

A group of interconnected worldwide computers using an agreed on set of standards and protocols to request information from and send information to each other.

Location code for the Institute of Texan Cultures Library.

A term that appears in the UTSA libraries' catalog indicating that an item has been received at the library but not yet catalogued. Ask at the Front Desk for information about obtaining the item.



A publication containing scholarly articles written by experts on current research in a particular field. Articles are usually accompanied by an abstract and bibliography.

Location code used in the UTSA Catalog for the John Peace Library, Main Campus.

Juvenile Literature
Children's literature.  The UTSA Libraries has collections of children and young adult literature shelved both at the John Peace Library Building, 3rd Floor (after the Z's), and at the Downtown Campus Library.


Keyword Search
A search method that allows the search for the occurrence of a word anywhere in a record. (Compare to Subject Search).



A professional with a Master's Degree in Library Studies trained to assist patrons in finding and using information. 


Research or Course Guide created by a librarian. 

Library Quick Search

A library search engine that searches across many of the library databases for books, e-books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, streaming media, dissertations, government documents, microforms, reference works, and more.

Logical operators

See Boolean operators.


A periodical published primarily for the general public rather than for scholars.

Flat, plastic sheets containing microimages of pages and read using a special machine at the Library.

A film containing reduced images of printed matter and stored on a reel. Readable on a special machine at the Library.

Printed material that has been photographed and reduced to a film format to help preserve the material and decrease the space needed for storage. Special equipment is needed to read stored information. Typical formats include microfilm and microfiche.  

Library term for a book on a single topic.

Multimedia Center
The department where audio and visual materials are kept and checked out. 


Off-Campus Access
See Remote Access.

Online Catalog
A searchable, computerized database of materials owned by a library and displaying the call number and location of the material. The current UTSA Libraries Catalog.  Search many library materials in Library Quick Search.  


Peer-Reviewed Journal
See Refereed Journal.

A publication with a unique title that is issued at an established interval (weekly, monthly, quarterly). Examples include journals and magazines.

Using another person's work as your own and without attributing to the original author. View the tutorial Identifying Plagiarism and How to Avoid It. 


Refereed Journal
A journal where articles are reviewed and selected by professional colleagues for publication. Check Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory online to determine if a publication is refereed or peer reviewed. (Look for the referee's shirt icon)

Remote Access (Off Campus Access)
The ability to log on to and access resources on a computer network from a distant location. The UTSA Libraries' resources and databases are available off-campus to current UTSA students, faculty and staff using their abc123 id and passphrase.  More information.

Extending the loan period or due date of materials. Ask at the Front Desk or do online through My Library Account.

Reserves / Course Reserves / Textbooks
A library service that manages the circulation of certain required course materials selected by instructors and made available for short-term loans. More information.  


Scholarly Journal
See Journal and Refereed Journal.

Scanner / Scanning
An electronic device that creates digital images of a document.  The UTSA Libraries has free scanners on both campuses for use by UTSA students and faculty and guest patrons..

Library term for publications issued at regular intervals. This can be a periodical, journal, magazine, newspaper, annual report or a conference proceeding.

The stacks are the shelves in the library that house the physical collection.  JPL Stacks are located on the 3rd  floor of the JPL Building and 2nd floor of Downtown Library.

Subject Heading
A standard search term assigned to an item record to identify its primary content. Finding and using the appropriate subject terms are important parts of an effective search.

Subject Search
A search technique which requires using the database's own exact, pre-determined vocabulary. See also Subject Heading. (Compare to Keyword.)


One station that is part of a computer system; an individual computer station.

TexShare Card / TexShare Program
A statewide library resource-sharing program which allows students and faculty from one library to check out library materials at other participating libraries.  

A list of subject headings or descriptors assigned in a particular database, index, or online catalog that can be used to search that database.

In a keyword search, a word root followed by a truncation symbol to retrieve variant endings. 
Example in Library Quick Search: chican* -- (to find chicano or chicana or chicanos or chicanas)

Tutorial (Online)
A computer-assisted, interactive course of study in which new information is introduced on a step-by-step basis with periodic quizzes offered to monitor learning. UTSA Libraries tutorials: 


Uniform Resource Locator. The unique address of every item on the Internet and used to locate and retrieve a particular page.