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Library Instruction

Library Glossary

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A brief summary of the contents of a journal article or other document. Often placed at the beginning of the document to facilitate browsing and skimming. Abstracts are also often reproduced in periodical indexes and databases, for example Biological Abstracts.

academic libraries:
Support the mission of their college or university. They provide books, and other materials to meet the instruction and research needs of the faculty and students. They don't usually collect a lot of leisure reading materials (popular fiction), but do have extensive reference materials to help with in depth research. Academic libraries tend to keep older materials as a historical collection is a necessity to research.

back file:
The back issues of a periodical; that is, the issues older than the current year. Backfiles may exist on paper as bound or unbound volumes, on microform, or as full-text in electronic databases.

A list of books and other documents dealing with a given subject, often arranged alphabetically. For example Scholarly Resources for Children and Childhood Studies: A Research Guide and Annotated Bibliography.
Bibliographies are also included within scholarly works, including term papers, to document sources and guide the reader to further information on the topic.

A type of computer searching that uses special words, or "operators," to restrict or expand the results of a search. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. The search phrase "cosmetic surgery AND teenagers" should retrieve only results containing both phrases.

For more information see: Searching Techniques and Strategies Tutorial - Boolean Searching

call number:
A unique identifying number that categorizes a book, journal, or other item by topic, and also shows exactly where it may be found in the library. For example, the call number of the book Kingfish : The Reign of Huey P. Long by Richard D. White is E748 .L86 W47 2006

For more information see: Understanding Call Numbers Tutorial - Call Numbers An Introduction

A written reference to a specific book, article, or other work which includes all necessary information to identify the work, such as author, title, source or publisher, and date of publication.

Different style guides recommend different formats for citations, but they all contain the same information. Thus the citation for Kingfish : The Reign of Huey P. Long in MLA format looks like this: White, Richard D. Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long. New York: Random House, 2006.

A transitive verb, to cite. To provide documentation for a fact or assertion in your work by means of a citation. Citation is a vital aspect of research in higher education. To use someone else's work without recognizing it is considered a serious ethical lapse, leading to disciplinary action for both students and faculty.

controlled vocabulary:
A specially chosen list of terms applied to the items in a catalog, index, or database, which clearly represent the subject and are used in information searching and retrieval. Using the controlled vocabulary improves the precision of your search, as all items on that subject are linked to the correct vocabulary term. Compare with KEYWORD.

For example, if the controlled vocabulary term for dogs is "Dogs" and not "Canines," you will get better search results by using the search term "Dogs." But one nice thing about computer searching is that the uncontrolled terms can be automatically cross-referenced to the controlled terms, making searching much easier.

The "Subject Terms" that you see in the library catalog are from one well-known controlled vocabulary, the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Generally, a large, computer-based file of organized information. In library terms, such a file, devoted to a specific subject and organized for information search and retrieval. For example, the History Reference Center is a full-text database of sources, such as journal articles and primary documents, for the study of history. See also INDEX.

The preset conditions of something. The way something behaves until you tell it to do something different. For example, when you first start using a word-processing software, it has certain tool buttons and task bars set up for you. That is it's default setting. You can then change the settings to suit your own needs. The databases you will be using in this class all have default settings. These are usually the most commonly used searching options, and may be changed by you to better suit your needs, if you desire.

A lengthy, formal, scholarly work, written toward the completion of the Ph.D. degree. Generally, the dissertation represents the fruit of extensive original scientific or scholarly research. The theses and dissertations of LSU graduate students from the year 2000 back are housed in Middleton Library on the second floor. Those written after 2000 are available online from the University's Electronic Theses and Dissertations Database. See also THESIS.

e-book (electronic book):
A book available in an electronic format, accessed via Internet, computers, personal digital assistants, electronic-book readers, CD-ROMS, etc.

e-journal (electronic journal):
A journal available in an electronic format, accessed via Internet, computers, personal digital assistants, CD-ROMS, etc. See JOURNAL.

A period of time in which the full-text access of a periodical is withheld from a database because of publisher's restrictions.

A computerized reproduction of a journal article or other document which contains the entire written contents of the document, accessible and possibly searchable by computer. Pictures and graphics, however, may not be included, as they are not text.

All those items which the library owns or has permanent computer access to; the library's collection. If a librarian says, "It's not in our holdings," that means the library does not have it.

A listing of the contents of a work. Examples include: the alphabetical list often found in the back of books, a listing of article titles found within a periodical, such as the The New York Times Index or a large listing of several documents and materials within an entire field of study, such as the Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings. Such subject indexes are now online and computer searchable. Similar in this way to a database; the two are often discussed together. See also DATABASE.

For more information see: Finding Periodical Articles - Choosing the Right Journal Index

interlibrary loan:
A free service provided to patrons in which the patron may ask Middleton Library to borrow a book, journal, article, etc. not available at Middleton from another library.

A journal is a periodical of a scholarly, scientific, or professional nature, in which specialists in a given field report the results of their research and debate the issues of their field. Examples are the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Accounting and Economics, and the International History Review.

A significant term in a document's title, abstract, or text, that can be used as a search term to retrieve the document in computerized searching.

A method of information storage in which pages of text or images are greatly reduced photographically and reproduced on film, which may be in rolls (microfilm) or sheets (microfiche). A special enlarging reader is needed to view the film.

A monograph is a book; a single, printed item. "Mono-graph" means "one writing." More generally, in library terms, any item that can be described, shelved, and cataloged as a single item.

peer reviewed:
A practice in scholarly publishing whereby papers submitted for books and journals are evaluated by a panel of recognized experts in the field prior to publishing. Peer review represents an important means of quality control in academia. Also, performing peer review is one of the ways scholars stay current on topics in their field. Truly scholarly journals are always peer reviewed. Also known as "refereed."

A periodical is a publication that is published in successive parts from time to time, at regular intervals -- that is, periodically. Periodicals contain current information on their topics of interest. Magazines, journals, and newsletters are all periodicals. For example, Newsweek (a magazine), American Anthropologist (a journal), Wall Street Journal (a newspaper), and Oil & Gas Interests Newsletter (a newsletter, obviously), are all periodicals. See also SERIAL.

For more information see: Finding Periodical Articles Tutorial - Types of Periodical Literature

Plagiarism is taking someone else's work and using it as your own, without giving them credit. It is a form of stealing and is a major breach of scholarly ethics. Visit the LSU Student Code of Conduct to see LSU's policies with regards to plagiarism.

public libraries:
Serve everyone in the community. They have items for children as well as senior citizens. They also tend to provide community services, such as providing meeting space and classes or workshops. They collect items such as best sellers and travel guides, which would appeal to, or be useful for a wide range of people. They usually do not have things which are very specialized or technical. Because public libraries have limited space, they tend to have mostly current material, keeping only what is used regularly.

ready reference:
Materials available for quick consultation, in order to answer brief factual or informational questions. Examples include: The World Almanac and the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) and the LSU Libraries' Ready Reference Sources web page. See also REFERENCE.

The library service devoted to educating users about library resources, guiding them in their research, and answering brief factual questions. In Middleton Library, the Reference Department is in Room 141 on the first floor.

reference book:
A book designed to be consulted briefly for authoritative information, and not read cover to cover, such as encyclopedias, handbooks, and almanacs. Reference books are housed in the Reference Department, and cannot be checked out. For example, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, Ward's Business Directory, and the Encyclopedia of the Solar System are all reference books.

For more information see: Reference Tools Tutorial - Types of Reference Resources

Books or materials pulled from the general collection and kept at the Circulation desk for the duration of a course, for ease of use. Reserves are checked out only for brief periods, to ensure all students in the class have an opportunity to use them. Overdue fines are higher to encourage prompt returns.

You can see if your instructor has put any books on reserve for your class by searching the class name or number in the "Reserve Desk" link on the Middleton Library homepage. Reserves are usually also listed in the course syllabus.

A publication issued under the same title in successive parts, at regular or irregular intervals, with no predetermined end date. Contrast with a MONOGRAPH, which is a single, discrete published item. Serials include conference proceedings and loose-leaf binder sets such as "Facts on File," as well as traditional periodicals. See also PERIODICAL.

special libraries:
Specialized collections to support the specific information needs of a sponsoring institution. Ex. Medical libraries at hospitals, a Cartographic (map) library in the Geology / Geography department.

Stacks are library shelves. If a book is said to be in the "third floor stacks," that means it is shelved on the third floor.

subject heading:
A word or phrase that fully describes a subject, and under which all materials on that subject are filed in the library catalog, to ensure retrieval. For example, the book The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Levi-Strauss, although you might not think it, is actually about comparative mythology, and has the subject headings "structural anthropology" and "mythology."

A long scholarly paper, prepared as part of the requirements to obtain a higher degree, generally a master's degree. A thesis represents very high-level scholarship, but does not necessarily have to be original research. The theses and dissertations of LSU graduate students from the year 2000 back are housed in Middleton Library on the second floor. Those written after 2000 are available online from the University's Electronic Theses and Dissertations Database. See also DISSERTATION.

Shortening a search term in computerized searching, in order to more widely search variant forms of that term. Truncation is indicated by a special character placed at the end of the search term; these characters are different in different databases. For example, when searching a database, the truncated term child* will retrieve not only the word child, but children, childhood, childlike, etc. All words which begin with the five letters C-H-I-L-D.

For more information see: Searching Techniques and Strategies Tutorial - Truncation

Web 2.0:
A catch-phrase for the new generation of participatory, collaborative Web applications such as blogs, wikis, and social-networking sites, in which content is created and shared by individual users, who act as programmers and developers, not simply passive consumers.

Flickr, Blogger, and MySpace are all examples of Web 2.0 applications.

A form of substitution where the truncating symbol can be inserted into the middle of a word, in order to search for irregular or variant spellings of the word. The wildcard symbol will replace one letter of a word. For example, the wildcard wom?n will retrieve both "woman" and "women." Wildcard symbols are different in different databases. Wildcards are not available in all search systems. See also TRUNCATION.


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