About the Libraries:
Library Terminology: A Guide for International Students
As a foreign student, you may find some terms used in the Rutgers University Libraries unfamiliar. This
guide will provide you with a list of some common terms and their definitions, which may help you as
you conduct library research.
An abstract is a concise summary of a periodical article or book. It can also refer to an electronic
database or a set of print publications which provide citations and summaries of articles or texts
published in periodicals, books or other materials. They can usually be searched by subject, author
A barcode is a 14-digit number assigned by the library circulation desks to borrowers when they
register for library privileges. Each barcode is unique to the individual borrower. The barcode is
either printed or affixed on the back of your university ID card or library card. The barcode is needed
for all library borrowing transactions and services.
A bibliography is a list of reference materials such as books and articles used for research.
It is often located at the end of an article or book. It can also refer to a collection of
information sources on a specific topic, such as books and periodical articles, that are
published as a book.
- Boolean Searching
Boolean searching is a method of combining search terms in database searching using Boolean
operators: AND, OR and NOT.
- Call Number
A call number consists of a series of letters, numbers or symbols that identifies an
individual book or material and shows the order in which the item is stored on a shelf
or in a collection of materials. The call number label is usually located on the spine of a book.
- CD-ROMS (Compact Disc_Read Only Memory)
CD-ROMs contain a large amount of data, searchable on a computer or on the Internet, if networked.
- Check Out
In order to borrow a book from the library for a certain period of time, you must take
the book to the circulation desk and have it charged out with your university ID or library card.
- Circulation Desk
The circulation desk is the place to check out and return library materials.
A citation is a reference source which usually includes article title, author,
publication name, date, volume and pages from journals or books.
A database is a file or collection of bibliographic citations or records of materials
stored electronically in a manner that can be retrieved and manipulated.
- Due Date
The due date is the date before which library materials on loan should be returned or
renewed. Materials not returned or renewed by designated due date are subject to fines
or loss of borrowing privileges.
- Electronic Journals (E-Journals)
Electronic journals are full texts or abstracts of journal articles available on the
Internet or CD-ROMs. The Libraries provide e-journals on the Libraries' web site.
- Electronic Workstations
Electronic workstations are computer terminals which provide access to the Internet,
online and CD-ROM databases.
- Government Publication
A government publication is an official document issued by a government agency.
Government publications contain information covering a wide variety of subjects.
There are two kinds of indexes: periodical and book indexes. A periodical index is a
list of bibliographic citations of articles in magazines or journals. It can be used to
help find articles on specific topics. An index of a book is an alphabetical list of
important entry points with pagination to the full contents of the book.
- Information Desk
The information desk is where information assistants give you directions and answer your
simple questions. If you have a research question, they will refer you to a reference
librarian for further assistance. It is usually located near the library entrance or by
the reference desk.
- Interlibrary Loan
Interlibrary loan is a library service allowing you to request books and journal articles
not owned by Rutgers by filling out an online form available on the Library Catalog, the online catalog.
The Internet is the largest computer network with instant access to a wealth of information
from all over the world.
- Library Instruction
Library instruction usually consists of a lecture, demonstration and hands-on practice.
It is a service provided by librarians to teach users how to use the library's resources efficiently.
- Libraries' Web Site
The Rutgers University Libraries' web site is accessible at http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu .
It provides information about the Libraries including its resources and services.
- Loan Period
This term refers to the length of time library materials may be borrowed.
Microform is a storage format with reduced images as opposed to the electronic or print
formats. There are two kinds of microform: microfiche and microfilm. Microfiche: A 4x6
sheet of plastic film that stores information in a compact form and requires a microfiche
reading device in order to be used. Microfilm: A roll of film either 16mm or 35mm that stores
patents, periodicals or other documents and requires a reading machine in order to be used.
- Online Catalog/the Library Catalog/Card Catalog
The online catalog is an electronic database listing all the materials such as books and
periodicals owned by the Rutgers University Libraries. Records in the database provide
information about these items such as author, title, subject, call number, publication date,
location, and availability.
The Library Catalog is available to anyone with Internet access.
The card catalog consists of catalog cards kept in cabinets with drawers. It contains
the records of the materials acquired before 1972. The catalog has two parts: one for subjects,
the other for authors and titles. The cards are filed alphabetically.
Overdue means that the book checked out by you is late for return. It has not been returned or
renewed to the library by the due date.
Recall is a service by which you can request a book that has already been checked out by another
patron. When the book is returned to the library, it will be held for you and you will be notified.
- Reference Collection
The reference collection consists of materials used frequently for general information.
It includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, indexes, and other materials. These materials may not
be checked out of the library.
- Reference Desk
The reference desk is where you receive in-depth assistance from librarians in your library research.
The desk is usually located near the reference collections.
Renew is a service which allows you to extend the loan period for the book that you have
checked out unless another user has recalled the book. You can renew your books by using
the "MY ACCOUNT" feature in the Library Catalog.
- Research Guide
A research guide is developed by librarians, which highlights essential research materials
on a specific subject. They are available either in print format in the Libraries or on the
Libraries' web site.
Reserves means required reading/listening/viewing materials set aside by the professors for
their students. You may borrow these items for in-library use only.
Citations, full-text articles, and most other information that you retrieve from the Libraries'
electronic resources can be downloaded/saved onto a formatted floppy disk for later use. Most of
these resources can also be emailed to any email account. Consult the reference desk for details
on how to download or email from specific sources.
Serials, journals, magazines and periodicals basically mean the same thing. They refer to a
type of publication which is usually published weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually in
The shelves which hold the library's books are called the stacks. You need the call number of a
book to locate it in the stacks. You can find the call number of a book in the online catalog.
Please see the reference desk if you require help in locating a particular item or subject in the
- Subject Headings
Subject headings are formal and authoritative terms consistently used to describe the topics of
library materials. The most used subject headings are listed in the Library of Congress Subject