Library Talk

International Student Guide to MU Libraries

Understanding Library Talk

Translations for common library terms are in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French and Spanish.

Abstract
A short summary of an article, book or other unit of information.  Abstracts are often printed at the beginning of an article and in indexes or databases. 
Attachment
A separate file sent with an email message.
Bibliography
A list of references that tells you which books and journals an author has referred to or consulted in the course of researching and writing their work. Bibliographies can be:

  • A section at the end of an essay, project or dissertation.
  • A chapter at the end of a published book.
  • A whole book in itself.        

For help in compiling your own bibliographies, look at our guide to Citing Sources.

Boolean search
An online search that uses “Boolean operators” such as AND, OR, NOT, or parentheses, rather than just typing words in a box.  Example: (international OR foreign) AND (graduate OR professional OR postdoctoral)
Borrow
To take a book out of the library for a set period of time. You borrow materials at the Circulation Desk. 
Bound journal
A series of periodicals bound together in one volume.
Branch library
In addition to Ellis Library, there are smaller libraries across campus which concentrate on a subject area. These include Engineering, Journalism, Health Sciences, Geology, Math, Veterinary Medicine and the University Archives.
Browser
The software you use to browse the World Wide Web. Examples of browers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape and Safari.
Call number
A location number for a book.  Each volume has a number, and that number is on the edge of the book facing outward on the shelf, and in the MERLIN catalog record for the book.
Carrels
Small, lockable rooms or “cages” in a library assigned to an individual for study.  To arrange for your own carrel in Ellis Library, call 882-4701. Priority is given to PhD candidates and students working on their dissertation.
Catalog
A database which lists and describes items such as books, periodicals, maps and videos held in MU libraries. Our online catalog is called MERLIN.
Chat
The ability to communicate with others online through typed messages on your computer.
Check out
To take a book out of the library for a set period of time.  You check your books out (or check out your books) at the Circulation Desk. 
Circulation Desk
The desk in any library where books and other material are checked out and returned. 
Citation
Identifying information about an article, book or other unit of information.  A citation generally includes author, title, date and publication information.  The MERLIN catalog contains citations for books. 
Copyright
Laws governing an author’s and/or publisher’s ownership of information they create and/or publish.  If you want to make copies of a book chapter for teaching, or reproduce another scholar’s diagram in your own book, you will have to seek permission and usually pay a fee.
CPRR (Current Periodicals Reading Room)
Recently received issues of magazines and journals are in CPRR. The journals are organized alphabetically by title. Labels on each issue will give the call number to help locate older copies or use the MERLIN Catalog.
Database
A place where information about articles, parts of books, whole books or other units of information is stored online.  Databases may contain full text or only citations (see Citation). Databases provided by the MU Libraries are rich in important scholarly information and are paid for by MU. 
Depository
A location that is off campus used to store books. Items in the depository can be requested through MERLIN and picked up at the Circulation Desk.
Dissertation
A lengthy scholarly document, especially written for completion of a doctoral degree (Ph.D.).
Download
To get a computer file from another source. You can often download an article from a database onto your computer.
Due date
The due date tells you when you must return your book to the library. The date is printed on a piece of paper on the cover of a book, or inside the back cover. If you do not return the book by the due date, you will have to pay a fine.
E-book
An electronic version of a book which can be read on a computer.
Electronic journal
A periodical that is available in an electronic or computerized form such as on the Web or in an electronic database.
Ellis Library
The main library for the University of Missouri – Columbia.
Embargo
When publishers impose a full text delay to their journals in databases. The length of time varies by publisher. For instance, Consumer Reports embargos its articles for three months, so even though EBSCO’s database, MasterFILE Premier has Consumer Reports available in full text, they will not be available for 3 months after they are actually published.
Encyclopedia
A work containing factual articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged alphabetically. A Subject Encyclopedia is a similar work on a single field of activity or a single subject. An encyclopedia can be one volume or many volumes, depending on the amount of material included.
ERes, E-Reserve
A password-protected Web site created by the library for students in a specific course.  The full text of articles and parts of books chosen by the course professor is posted to the site, for use by students.
FindIt@MU
Some databases only contain citations for an article. The FindIt@MU button searches all databases to see if the library has the article in full text.
Fine
The amount of money you owe if books or other library materials are returned after the Due Date.
Flash drive
A portable device used to store computer files.
Full Record
All of the information about an article book, etc. that a database makes available.  This usually includes a citation and abstract.
Full Text
An online copy of an entire article, book or other information unit, often stored in a database.  Some databases do not include graphics such as charts and illustrations.
Gateway
The home page of the MU Libraries, http://mulibraries.missouri.edu
Hard copy
A copy which you can hold in your hand. A physical copy.
Hold
A request to borrow a book which another person has checked out. When the book is returned to the library, the Circulation staff will notify you and will hold the book for you for 10 days.
Homepage
The main page for a web site.
Icon
A small picture on a computer that represents a computer file or program.
Index
A book or database that lists articles, books or other information but does not reproduce it in full text.  Also: at the end of a book, a list of people, places, and/or topics included in the book, with page numbers.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
A free MU Libraries service that allows you to get books and articles from libraries outside of the MU Libraries. If a book or article is not available at any MU library, or through MOBIUS, you can request it through an interlibrary loan.
ISBN
International Standard Book Number is a unique number which is assigned to a published book.
ISSN
International Standard Serial Number is a unique number given to every published serial publication such as a magazine or journal.
Journal
A regular scholarly publication containing articles written by scholars or professionals for other scholars or professionals.  Journals are most commonly published monthly or quarterly (four times a year). Journals are a type of periodical.
Laptops
Wireless laptops are available to checkout and use within Ellis Library (two hour checkout) and the Engineering Library (three-hour checkout).  Laptops can be used only inside the library.  Printing is available.
Library Account
Your library account shows what items you have checked out, their due dates, and any requests you have made.
Library of Congress Classification System
The Library of Congress Classification System is the system MU Libraries use to organize its books and other materials. All cataloged materials are assigned title, author and Library of Congress subject headings so they can be retrieved in a search of the Library Catalog and organized on the library’s shelves in a consistent manner.
Library use only
The book or item can only be read in the library and cannot be checked out.
Limits/limiters (in searching)
Most databases allow you to limit or narrow your search retrieval. Common limits used in database are: publication date, language, , peer reviewed or scholarly journals, full text and publication title. Searches in MERLIN can also be limited.
MERLIN
The online catalog that searches for books and journals owned by the MU Libraries.  MERLIN can also search for books and journals owned by the other campuses of the University of Missouri.  You may also use MERLIN to view the books you have checked out, and make requests for books from other libraries.  Do not use MERLIN to find articles.
Microfiche, microfilm, microform
Publications which have been reduced in size and printed on a small piece of plastic. Special machines are used to view these items.
MOBIUS
The group of libraries in the state of Missouri that share the MOBIUS catalog.  This group includes most college and university libraries in the state and a few public libraries.  The MOBIUS catalog is connected to the MERLIN catalog so that you can request books from MOBIUS libraries.
Monograph
A book.
MOSpace
MOspace is an online repository for scholarly work and resources created by faculty, staff and students at the University of Missouri.
Open stacks
Bookshelves in a library that are accessible to all library users.  In an open-stack library like the MU Libraries, you find books yourself using call numbers, and you are free to look around for additional books.
OPAC
Online Public Access Catalog. An online catalog of the materials held by a library. The MU Libraries OPAC is called MERLIN.
Overdue
Library books and materials not returned by the due date are considered late and overdue. You will be charged a fine on any overdue material.
Pawprint
The ID needed to access most MU technology resources. Student PawPrints consist of a student’s initials and three random characters to ensure uniqueness.
PDF
A file format developed by Adobe Acrobat that allows files to be shared while keeping the original appearance. This is an acronym for Portable Document Format.
Peer-reviewed
Description of a journal that uses subject experts to judge the content of articles, instead of just editors to judge the writing style, like a magazine.  Reviewing articles for a journal is often part of a professor’s job.
Periodical
Something that is published regularly, not just one time.  This includes journals, magazines, newspapers and annual publications.
Plagiarism
Using someone else’s idea without acknowledging that the idea came from that person, not you.  Plagiarism can take the form of reproducing another author’s exact words, or just another author’s ideas. Plagiarism can be cause for academic discipline.
Primary Source
An original record of events, such as a diary, newspaper article, a public record or government document.
Proxy Server
A computer which allows access to restricted resources from off-campus.
Refereed journal
A journal that is peer-reviewed.
Reference book
A book such as a dictionary or encyclopedia that is used for quick lookups and cannot be checked out.  Reference books are stored on the first floor of Ellis Library.  Some older reference books may be checked out.
Reference desk
The desk at a library where you can get help finding information. The Reference Desk is located in the Information Commons.
Renew (books)
To extend the time you can keep a book you have checked out.  You can renew books twice online from your MERLIN account. You can also renew a book by taking it to the Circulation Desk.
Reserve
Books or other items with a short checkout period, usually for use by students in a particular course.  Reserve items are stored behind the Circulation Desk.
Reshelving
The area were books are sorted after being returned and before they are placed back on the shelves.
Return
Bring any materials checked out from the library back to the Circulation Desk
Scholarly journal
See Peer-reviewed.
Secondary Sources
Secondary sources are accounts of the past written after events have taken place. They generally give overviews or interpret the events.
Serial
Something that is published regularly, not just one time.  This includes journals, magazines, newspapers and annual publications. See Periodical.
Stacks
Book shelves in a library where items are stored. The MU Libraries stacks are open, which means anyone can go into the stacks to find what they need.
Style Manual
Special handbooks that show the accepted forms for citing references in bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes.
Subject Heading
The word or phrase used to describe the subject content of a work.
Thumb drive
A portable device used to store computer files.
Truncation
Truncation is used in all databases to search singular and plural versions of a word as well as a word stem. Common truncation symbols are: * ? and $. # Check each database for the truncation symbol used. For example, if you were searching for articles on censorship in the media you could type censor* which retrieves articles containing the words censorship, censoring, censors, and censored.
URL
A Uniform Resource Locator is a unique address for a web site or web page. For example: http://missouri.edu is the URL for the University of Missouri – Columbia.
Virtual reference
A service allowing library users to ask questions through email or chat. This can be used instead of coming to the reference desk at the library and asking a question in person.
Volume
This word is used to describe two different materials: 1) A series of printed sheets, bound, typically, in book form, or 2) consecutive issues of a periodical bound together.
Wild card
A symbol used in searching to represent one or more letters. It is most often used to find plurals and other variants of words. Commonly used symbols include ? * and +. See also truncation.
Wireless
The name given to any electronic device that sends messages or information through the air by electromagnetic waves instead of through a cord.