Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2018     Views: 235

Glossary of Library Terms

Use this glossary of common library terms to familiarize yourself with some of the words and phrases you may hear or see while searching in library resources or speaking with a librarian. For a more extensive glossary, check out Library Lingo from Colorado State University.

Boolean Operators

Words like AND, OR, and NOT which are used in database searches to help narrow down or broaden search results. For more information on Boolean Operators and Boolean Searching (that is, searching using Boolean Operators), click here for more information.

Call Number

A series of numbers and letters that are assigned to each library material. Call numbers are used to organize and categorize library materials so that materials on similar topics will be found near each other on the shelves. For more information on call numbers, click here.


The basic information about a material such as title, author, publisher, etc.


A collection of sources available and search-able online. Databases can include journals, ebooks, reviews, government documents, and more. Some databases are very subject specific (they only include sources about one or two subjects) while others can be very broad (they include sources about a number or all subjects). Click here to view the A - Z Database List.

Full Text

The entire article or material.

Interlibrary Loan

A service whereby patrons can request books, articles, and other materials from other libraries. For more information, check out the InterLibrary Loan page.


A periodical which is usually more scholarly than a magazine. Journals may or may not be peer-reviewed.


A periodical which is less scholarly than a journal.

Online Book Catalog

Shapiro Library's online system for helping patrons find books and other library materials. Specifically, the online book catalog helps patron's find materials that are physically owned by the library, but some electronic resources can be found using the online book catalog as well. Click here to view the Online Library Catalog.

Peer Reviewed

Journals or other materials which have gone through a rigorous editorial process by subject experts. Journals or other materials which are peer-reviewed are scholarly. Click here for more information.

Primary Source

An original material or first-hand account. Click here for more information.

Secondary Source

A material which is once-removed from a primary source; a second-hand account or critique of an event or topic. Click here for more information.


The main bookshelves in the library.


Lederer, N. (2013). Glossary of Library Terms. Colorado State University Libraries. Retrieved from

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