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Library Terminology

Dictionary of common library terms.


Barcode / Barcode Number

The alphanumeric code that appears below the barcode found on library materials. Barcode numbers are unique to each item and are used to charge, discharge, and renew materials in the library's online computer system.

Bibliographic Citations

Information used to identify a source (e.g., book or article). For a book, it usually includes the author, title, publisher, and date, whereas an article typically includes the author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, pages, and date.

Bibliographic Database

A database that indexes and contains only bibliographic citations, or information about the a work (e.g., book or article) rather than the work itself.

Bibliographic Record

A collection of specific information (e.g., author, title, publication date, edition, ISBN number, etc.) used to describe and identify a specific item in a bibliographic database.


A list of citations. Bibliographies are used to list resources referenced within a researched work (e.g., book, journal, or encyclopedia article). They are also used to provide a collection of resources on a particular topic.


An outside company where library materials are sent for repairs or to be hardbound, such as with loose issues of periodicals being bound into one volume. Items at the bindery are not available to users until they return to the library.


A collection of works by various authors, or sometime a single author, accompanied by biographical information.


A book about a person written by another person.


An advertisement found on the book jacket or back cover that is designed to promote the sale of the book.


A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic.

Book Return

The place where borrowed library materials (e.g., books, DVDs, etc.) are returned to the library.

Book Review

An evaluation or discussion of a book by a critic or journalist. Book reviews are mostly done for new books.

Bookstacks / Book Stacks

The section of the library containing the majority of the library's collection, or main collection, that are arranged by call number. It is often referred to as the "stacks".

Boolean Operators

Specific words (AND, OR, or NOT) used when keyword searching to combine and/or exclude keywords. These help to narrow (AND or NOT) or broaden (OR) searches resulting in more useful search results.

Bound Volume / Bound Periodical

A hardbound book created by binding several issues of a periodical title together.

Browse Searching

An information search method where the search is limited to one search field (e.g., author, subject term, etc.) and the computer retrieves items matching the search statement exactly. Because of this, word choice, word order, and spacing are crucial. This differs from keyword searching where more than one search field can be involved and word order does not matter.


A computer program that provides users with Internet access. Examples: Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari.

Click a letter, then click on a word.