Library terms and phrases

Library terms and phrases




A summary of a journal article covering the main points included in it. Often found at the beginning of an academic journal article, or alternatively when full text is not available on a database.

Alerting Service

An updating mechanism included on some databases which informs the user of new information (for example on their chosen subject).


Extra supporting material such as statistics survey results. Sometimes found at the end of a book, journal article or assignment. Made separate so that it does not disrupt the main body of the work.


A password system which allows access to resources to which students are entitled to access (usually databases). Used by NHS trusts. The University uses an alternative system, UK Access Management Federation.


A character representation (usually animated) which represents an online user on applications such as Second Life.


Bibliographic details / bibliographic citation

Description of a piece of written work, listing the elements which may be required to locate it. In the case of a book these elements commonly include author, title, edition (if other than the first), date of publication, and publisher. For a journal the most commonly cited details will be journal title, title of article, author, year of publication, volume and part number, and page numbers.


A list of references / citations at the end of a piece of work which includes the necessary information to trace each source. Elements include: Author, Date, Title, Edition, Place of Publication, Publisher. References should be organised alphabetically under the author's surname if the Harvard System is used, or numerically if utilising the Numeric system.


A (weblog) blog is an online diary/journal which users can subscribe to in order to receive and/or post comments to.


Saved link to a Webpage location


The virtual Learning Environment (VLE) used by the University of Bedfordshire. An organised webpage where academic staff and librarians place lecture notes, handouts and make announcements to groups of students.


To search casually or randomly, without seeking anything specific.


Call number

Characters (usually placed on the spine of a book or item) which denote the place of the item on the library shelves, usually organised by subject area. Same as classmark.


A passage quoted from a published work.


Characters (usually placed on the spine of a book or item) which denote the place of the item on the library shelves, usually organised by subject area.

Cloud computing

Computing where services such as software are hosted on the internet rather than on a local server

Conference proceedings

A written report of what has taken place at a conference.


Copyright is ownership of and right of control over all possible ways of reproducing a work.

Creative commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share


Database: Full text and Bibliographic

A database is a collection of information that is organized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated. Databases can be classified according to types of content: bibliographic, full-text, numeric, and images.


A system used by libraries to classify nonfiction publications into subject categories. The subject is indicated by a three-digit numeral and further specification is given by numerals following a decimal point. Publications are shelved by number.


A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them.

Discovery service

A search facility provided by a library which attempts to search all the library's holdings at the same time. Unlike a library catalogue which only searches the titles of books and journals, a discovery service aims to search for journal articles from multiple databases as well as books and ebooks. The University of Bedfordshire's discovery service is DISCOVER.


A service that provides access to books and journal articles which are not held at your library, but are held at other libraries.



or electronic book, which provides the text of a book in electronic form.


Commercial organisation which organises and sells databases of journal articles, ebooks, abstracts and other information to libraries and other subscribers.


An electronic journal - this may be the electronic version of a print journal, or the journal may be electronic only.


Comprehensive collection of articles on all subjects, or a particular chosen subject.

Et al.

Means "and others". In referencing "et al." can be used where there are more than 3 authors, instead of listing all the authors.


Federated search engine

A device which searches multiple databases or web search engines all at the same time. Federated search engines have been largely superseded by Discovery Services.


or web feed. This is the means by which subject data can be formatted to enable you to subscribe to regular updates sent to your chosen feed provider on the Web. Also known as RSS.


A folksonomy is a system of collaborative tagging, indexing or classification (as distinct from a standardised, rigid taxonomy found with Yellow Pages or MeSH). Folksonomies are a particularly associated with Web 2.0 and social networking sites.

Full text database

Source containing complete (full-text) journal articles or other materials (such as statutes or case reports). The text may be in PDF or HTML format. Full-text databases are different from bibliographic databases which only include the citation details (who, when, where published) and abstracts. However, some databases are partially full-text (for example, Cinahl Plus with Full Text)

Full Text Finder

Full Text Finder is a service which connects a reference to an article, to the full text of the article itself, for example an abstract in a database to the full text of the article, held elsewhere on the web.



The initial webpage that a visitor to a website sees and that contains key words and phrases that enable a search engine to find it. Frequently, gateway pages organise mediated links to particular subject areas.


Search engine focused on academic research sources across many disciplines covering peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, journal article abstracts and articles, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.

Grey literature

Published without the mediation of a commercial publisher. It includes reports, conference proceedings and many in-house publications such as technical reports or newsletters etc. May be difficult to trace because of lack of ISBN and bibliographic details.



Method of academic referencing using the Author-Date system to link alphabetically arranged references to in–text citations. This is distinct from the Numeric System.



From the Latin ibidem, meaning 'in the same place'. It can be used if two or more consecutive references are from the same source. Instead of repeating the reference, the word ibid is used in place of the citation.

In transit

When an item such as a book or journal has been requested from another site it will be marked "In Transit" until it arrives.

Index (e.g. British Education Index)

An indexing database such as the British Education Index allows users to search for information about documents in a subject area. Though these databases do not usually hold full-texts they can sometimes link through to other full text databases.

Information Literacy

Information Literacy refers to your information handling skills. To display Information Literacy you must be able to recognize when information is needed and be able to locate, evaluate and use the needed information.

Instant messaging

Instant Messaging allows users to send online messages in real-time.

Internet gateway

A website providing access to a set of websites grouped by a particular subject area or theme.


The International Standard Book Number identifies each separate publication of a book.


International Standard Serial Number is an eight-digit number assigned to individual journal titles.



A publication which appears at regular intervals, also known as a serial or periodical.



A keyword is a term, subject heading, or descriptor, in information retrieval, that captures the essence of a subject or topic.



A library catalogue is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries. A bibliographic item can be any item owned by the library or libraries - book, journal, database, DVD or other object.


LinkSource  is a service which connects a reference to an article, to the full text of the article itself, for example an abstract in a database to the full text of the article, held elsewhere on the web. LinkSource has now been re-branded as Full Text Finder.

Literature review

A literature review is a work that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic.

Literature search

A systematic and thorough search for published material, whether in print or electronic format, on a specific topic.


Media sharing

The interactive process of sending via email, instant message, text message, posting or linking to media on a website or blog, for the purpose of sharing with a targeted audience.


A one volume work; normally a book. Can also be a volume with a distinctive title within a series.



No date. If the date of publication of a work cannot be ascertained you will sometimes see this abbreviation as part of a bibliography.

Numeric system

A system for citing publications in which an author is referred to by a number within the body of the text. For example: Altman (4) argues that…..



Abbreviation for 'opere citato' (Latin 'in the work cited'). Where this abbreviation appears in a list it means that the work has been referred to earlier.

Open Access

Open Access is a form of publishing in which journal articles are made openly available on the web, without libraries having to pay to access them.


PDF file

Short for 'Portable document format', a file format developed by Adobe. PDF makes it possible to save and send documents and have them appear on the recipient's computer screen as they were intended. The software required to read pdf files (Adobe Acrobat) is available as a free download.

Peer reviewed

A system where an author's work is judged by experts in the same field, usually before it is accepted for publication in a scholarly journal.


Another name for a journal or magazine which is published regularly (e.g. monthly, weekly).


Plagiarism is defined as using someone else's words or ideas without acknowledging the original author. It is a serious academic offence.


Digital recording (released periodically) which may contain sound, image or video files and is made available on the Internet for others to download and listen to on a computer or personal digital audio player.

Primary references

Directly referring to, or quoting the works of another person.


Reference book

A reference book is a compendium of information, such as a dictionary or encyclopaedia, or an item that cannot be borrowed from the library.

Reference list

A list of citations at the end of a piece of work providing the necessary information to identify and trace each source. All references in the list must have been referred to by the author in the main text of the work.

Referencing software

Reference management software, citation management software or personal bibliographic management software is software for scholars and authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations (references). The University provides and supports RefWorks - other systems include Endnote, Mendeley and Zotero.


University of Bedfordshire's Repository is a database of research produced by university staff (and student theses) including the full text of articles where copyright permits. Most universities have a repository, and there are also repositories dedicated to particular subjects, such as Arxiv for physics.


A work which has been printed again without any changes having been made to the original text.

Revised edition

A work which has been substantially altered since the previous edition. Errors may have been corrected, and possibly new material added.

RSS Feed

RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication" but sometimes "Rich Site Summary") is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.



A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration.

Search Engine

A computer program that searches websites and then indexes them using the information it has found.

Search strategy

A methodology for focusing your research on a particular topic.

Second Life

An online 3D interactive virtual reality program which resembles console video games, but is almost entirely built and influenced by the people who use it.

Secondary referencing

The practice of including a reference to a work where you have not read the original source, only seen the reference to it in another source you have used.


A protocol for exchanging login information securely between an organisation (such as University of Bedfordshire) and a provider of digital resources. Provided through the UK Access Management Federation.

Social bookmarking

The ability to save and categorize a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others online.

Social network

A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities. Currently the best known examples of this would be Facebook and Twitter.


Material published on one website being made available on others. For example, using a reader, such as Feedly, you can read news headlines and weather forecasts produced by corporations such as the BBC, and posts from blogs you are interested in as they appear.


Tag cloud

(Also called a 'weighted list') Pictorial representation of words, typically retrieved from a search. Hits appear in a diagrammatic form, with important word larger, rather than in a standard list form.


Social networking site. Offers similar features to Facebook, but is more suited to short posts (known as 'tweets') and to use on mobile devices such as iPhones and Blackberries.


UK Access Management Federation

Federation of universities providing authentication to digital resources using the Shibboleth protocol. If you see a link with UK Access Management Federation in it you can use it to log in to digital resources on or off campus.



'Virtual Learning Environment ' - web based system where lecturers can make course materials available online and hold discussions with students. BREO is the University of Bedfordshire's VLE.


'Video podcast' - the same as a podcast, but it broadcasts video content as well as audio. Can be played on a mobile device or on a PC.


Web 2.0

The second generation of internet development, where users create content. Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook and chat rooms are examples of Web 2.0 because the content you read, watch or listen to has been put there by other users, rather than by the owner of the website.

Web application

An application in which all or some of the software is downloaded from the Web each time it is run. It may refer to browser-based applications that run within the user's Web browser or to rich client applications that resemble local applications.


A collection of related web pages, images etc. that are accessed via a common address (or url).


A collaborative web application, where software allows for the creation and editing of linked web pages.

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