Information Literacy Glossary

The list includes library terminology as well as some computer and internet terminology. Click on the letter of the part of the alphabet you want to go to. Non-highlighted letters do not have words defined.


abridged A shortened version of a book or other documents.

abstract Summary of an article, book, or other written publication. Some databases include abstracts of articles. An abstract is usually less than 200 words in length.

acronym A word formed from the initial letters of a series of words. For example, the ALA stands for the American Library Association.

address A way to identify an Internet resource. See also URL. The following are examples of different Internet addresses: an electronic mail address - , a web server address -

almanac An annual publication containing useful facts and statistical data. Usually contains information about different nations.

annotated bibliography A bibliography in which each citation is followed by an annotation containing a brief descriptive and/or evaluative summary, synopsis, or abstract.

annual A yearly publication.

anthology A collection of published works by one or more authors, sometimes organized by chronology or by a particular theme. (ex. An Anthology of Women's Literature).

APA style A bibliographic citation format outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Available in the library. See fore more information.

APP (computing) a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose; an application, often as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.

archives Records or documents with historical value, or the place where such records and documents are kept.

ASCII- American Standard Code for Information Interchange A standard that enables computer files and text, such as electronic mail messages, to be used on many different systems. Generally thought of as the characters typed from a keyboard, such as letters, numbers and standard punctuation found in English. Word processing programs can usually save files in an ASCII or binary (their default) format.

audio-visual materials Library materials in non-print form, such as audio cassettes, video cassettes, compact discs, DVDs, and filmstrips.


bibliographic citation Information which identifies a book, journal article, or electronic source. Information for a book usually includes the author, title, publisher, and date. The citation for an article includes the author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, pages, and date. Electronic citation includes a URL. Some databases contain only citations to books and articles. See APA style and MLA style for examples of citation styles. A citation can refer to a reference at the end of an academic paper or article, or it can refer to a reference to an article or book in an online database.

bibliography A list of books, articles, or other sources (interviews, films) on a particular subject. Bibliographies may be found at the end of books or articles, or may be separate publications.

binary A format or type of file, containing non-ASCII non-printable text. A word processing file, such as one written and saved in WordPerfect or MSWord, is a binary file and should be viewed from the word processing application. When transferring binary files with an application, such as FTP specify that the file should be transferred in binary.

book review An evaluation of a book, usually published in a periodical or newspaper.

boolean logic Use of operators AND, OR, NOT to combine search terms. (see KEYWORDS/KEYWORD SEARCHING). AND means that both words you type must be included in search, such as "RED and RIDING". OR means that either one word, or the other word, or both words can be included. "RIDING or HOOD". Not means to exclude a word from your search, "RED not WOLF".

browser A program that usually runs on a computer that enables you to view files. Often used in conjunction with the World Wide Web, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape, which enable you to access Internet servers and view Web pages.


call number A group of letters and numbers given to each item which is used to arrange materials in the library and describe their location. The Library of Congress Classification (LC call number) is used for materials in the Greenley Library; an example: HR 270 B86 1994. Some public libraries use the Dewey Decimal system instead of LC.

case sensitivity Capitalization matters in a search that is case sensitive. Capital letters (upper case) retrieve only upper case. Most search tools are not case sensitive or only respond to initial capitals, as in proper names. Using all lower case (no capitals), is usually advised, because lower case will always retrieve upper case as well.

CD-ROM - Compact-Disc Read-Only Memory A method of storing information or data. The data is inscribed with a laser on a compact disc.

charge out or check out The process of borrowing materials to use outside the library. This is done at the circulation desk. A student/faculty/staff ID card is required.

circulation desk Also frequently called circ, the area to check out library materials.

circulating materials Any library materials which can be checked out of the library. (Some materials do not circulate; i.e., periodicals and reference materials).

citation Same as bibliographic citation

client or client software A computer program or software that requests information from a server computer. Software responsible for interacting with a user, such as displaying data and accepting keyboard or mouse input. For example one way to view web pages is to use the netscape client program from a microcomputer, netscape interacts with a world-wide-web server.

course reserves Materials that instructors set aside for the students in a class to read. Reserve materials can be books (including textbooks), articles, or DVD's. These items may be borrowed for a short period and can only be used in the library.

cross curricular  Connections that exist between concepts, vocabulary, and skills from different subject areas (including the arts), particularly those connections that lead to deeper understanding.

cumulative index An index in which several previously published indexes are combined into one book. Usually covers several months or years.

current periodical The most recent issues of a journal or magazine, often published during the last year.


database A computer program that stores information, such as journal articles or book citations, in a way that allows you to search for specific types of information. A database indexes information, that is, it organizes it and describes it. See index.

database search A database search is performed by using a computer system to list journal article citations or full text on a subject.

dissertation Publication reporting original research that is a requirement for a Ph.D. degree. Some databases index dissertations. The library does not collect dissertations.

domain The Internet is set up hierarchically, and the domain is the last part of the address which describes the type of general category, for example: .COM - commercial, .EDU - educational institution usually in the U.S., .GOV - U.S.Government, .NET - Internet Operations, .ORG - non-profit organization. Also there are many 2 letter country code designations (.UK for United Kingdom, .CA for Canada, etc.)

download To move a copy of a file from a multi-user system or a server to your computer.


E-mail or Electronic Mail A service that enables a message to travel electronically to another computer destination.

ethernet A network specification developed by Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel and Xerox that theoretically allows data to travel at 10 megabits (million bits) per second.


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions Throughout the Internet FAQs are listed which contain questions and answers to frequently asked questions. They are found on web pages, FTP sites, and Usenet news or other electronic discussion groups.

field-In a database, records are divided up into separate parts, called Fields. A field in a database record tells you one kind of information, such as the author's name or the journal name or the subject of the article. In most databases you can fine-tune your search by instructing the database to search for information by looking in a particular field. Most fields are abbreviated. For example, you can do a search for "glaciers" in the journal "Natural History" in some databases by typing in the search "glaciers and jn=natural History".

Field Limiting Requiring that a keyword or phrase appear in a specific field of documents retrieved. Most often used to limit to the "Title" field in order to find documents with one or more keywords in the title.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol FTP allows one to transfer one or more files from one computer on the Internet to another. Files may contain documents or programs, and may be ASCII text or contain BINARY data.

Full-text Articles that are available online in their entirety, either in an online database or on the web are called "full-text articles." Usually, the content in a full-text article is the same as the content in the printed version of that article, if a printed version exists. A "full-text database" is one in which some or all of the articles indexed are available in full-text.


GIF - Graphical Interchange Format A format for a file that contains a graphic or picture. Files that use this format usually have the suffix .gif as part of their name. It is often pronounced with a soft g sound, "jiff", or with a hard g sound.

government documents All materials published by government: federal, state, local, or foreign. Materials can be in the form of reports, laws, statistics, journals, newsletters, microforms, or other material.


hold A hold guarantees that when a book is returned to the circulation desk it will be saved for you.

holdings The group of items (books, journals, magazines) included in a library. When a database has holdings information that means it can tell you which libraries own the items listed.

homepage A document you access from a World Wide Web browser, such as netscape, mosaic, or lynx. It usually denotes the main document in a series of related documents.

HTML - HyperText Markup Language A language used to create web pages. HTML tells a browser how to display a document. A document for the World Wide Web contains HTML tags or instructions, to alter the way the document appears.

hypertext A hypertext document contains links or pointers to other documents. You follow a link to another hypertext document and can return to the first document.


index A list of subjects, names, titles, etc. that helps you to locate information. A periodical index lists articles by subject or author. A book index is a list at the end of a book which gives pages numbers where names and subjects can be found in the book.

Interlibrary Loan - ILL A way to get materials owned by other libraries.You can submit an ILL request directly through the library's FirstSearch database, or you can fill out a request form. Forms are available at the reference desk.

internet/Internet An internet (lowercase) is a term meaning a group of connected networks. With an uppercase I, it means the World Wide computer network based on the TCP/IP protocol, and all resources connected to it. The Internet contains but is not limited to the World Wide Web, gopher and ftp sites.

IP address Internet Protocol number, each resource connected to the Internet has a unique Internet number that identifies it, such as

ISP - Internet Service Provider An ISP provides access to Internet services. AOL is an ISP. Commercial ISP's charge users a flat fee per month.


journal A publication which has scholarly information, usually written by academics, researchers, or experts in a subject area., and not intended for the general public. See magazine and scholarly journal.

Jpeg - A format for a file that contains a graphic or picture. Files that use this format usually have the suffix .jpg as part of their name.


keyword/keyword searching The most significant words in a topic, book or article title, etc. Keywords are used as terms when searching databases.


Library of Congress Subject Headings Special vocabulary, or subject headings that can be used to find information in a card catalog or online catalog. The most recent LC Subject Headings directories are on tables opposite the reference desk.

link When a document uses HTML and is published on the WWW, links are words or places you can "click" on in the document that allow you to jump to other sections of the document, or to other documents on the WWW. Links are usually highlighted in blue and appear as underlined text, although graphics can also be links. Your mouse pointer turns into a "hand" icon when it is placed over a link.

listserv A listserv facilitates electronic distribution lists. These mailing lists can focus on any type of discussion, for example one list may be dedicated to discuss a particular subject or a list can enable electronic discussion of a particular group or committee. Members of a listserv generally subscribe by sending an electronic mail message to a special account name. Correspondence is generated by sending mail to the listserv address and it is then redistributed as an E-mail message to all list members.


magazine A magazine contains news stories or articles on various subjects that are written for a general audience. Time and People Weekly are two popular magazines. Magazines are usually published monthly.

manuscript A handwritten or typed composition, rather than printed. Some databases list manuscripts by the abbreviation "mss."

microforms Microfiche (4 by 6 inch cards) and microfilm (a roll of film); printed items which have been reduced in size by photographic methods to save space.

MLA style A bibliographic citation format outlined in the Modern Language Association Handbook or Style Manual. Available in the library. See fore more information.

modem An abbreviation for modulator-demodulator. A modem is the device that enables a microcomputer or terminal to communicate over a telephone line to another computer or to a computer network. It may require software for its use.

monograph A book.


online resources Sources such as databases and web sites that are available through the internet. The Library purchases subscriptions to various online resources that allow library users to look up information in databases.

online searching Using an online resource, such as a database, to find citations, abstracts, or full-text articles on a subject.

OPAC - Online Public Access Catalog The electronic card catalog system, or computer you connect to when you look up Library resources, such as books.

OV Refers to OVersized books. In our online catalog, you will see the letters "OV" before some call numbers. Oversized books are too large to fit on the regular library shelves. They are shelved after the end of the Z call numbers in the stacks downstairs.


page On the World Wide Web a page refers to a Web document, regardless of how large it is.

PDF file A file that is in Portable Document Format is a PDF file. This is a format created by Adobe software that creates images of documents which can then be posted on the WWW. You need a special program, Adobe Acrobat Reader, to view these files. The program can be downloaded for free. PDF files are sometimes very large and can take some time to load and print.

peer-reviewed journal See "scholarly journal."

periodical An item which is published on a regular basis, such as journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Phrase searching Allows you, in a database - to search for particular words in a particular order. Uselful for proper names, names of companies and names of government departments. Most phrase searches should be in quotations, such as "Department of Justice".

POP - Post Office Protocol POP is a protocol for delivering electronic mail.

Protocol Protocol is an expected set of commands or behavior. For example, when you talk to someone, it is usually expected that you greet them. For computers, a protocol is a set of instructions that a piece of software or hardware is expecting. If instructions are not given correctly then the desired task will not be done.


query A query means a question, but it is often used to refer to a search you type in a database or web search engine.


record In a database, information about one item is stored as a "record". For example, all the information such as the title, author, and publisher of a book is referred to as the book's "record". Records are made up of several fields, or distinct parts.

refereed journal See "scholarly journal."

reserve Same as course reserves. Other materials may also be kept on reserve.

results ranking The order in which search results appear. Each search tool uses its own unique algorithm.


scholarly journal A journal that is refereed - that is, experts in an academic field make up an editorial board that reviews all articles before they are accepted for publication. Scholarly journals contain articles written by researchers doing original work in a subject field. These articles contain bibliographic references to other articles and sources. Most scholarly journals are devoted to a particular topic. For example, The Journal of Neurology and Renaissance Quarterly are two scholarly journals.

search Using a database or catalog to look for information. The commands or words you type in are referred to as a "search".

search engine In order to find documents on the WWW, you need to use a search engine. Search engines are very large databases that contain information about web pages. Search engines are automatically updated by special programs called "robots" or "spiders" that search the WWW for new content and then report their findings to the database. There are many different web search engines that you can use to do a search. Some of the most popular ones are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Ask a librarian if you need help using a search engine.

Serial A publication which is intended to continue indefinitely. This includes periodicals such as magazines, journals, newspapers, and books such as almanacs and yearbooks which come out every year.

Server A server is responsible for performing tasks as directed by a client, such as accessing data, performing calculations and then providing data or a response to a client. For example the Web server provides the documents that make up our campus web pages.

stacks Book shelves containing the principal book collection of the library. These are located in the lower level of Greenley Library and are open for browsing.

subject heading The specific word or phrase used to find a book or article on a specific topic in a catalog or periodical index. Subject headings are usually broad categories. In a database, indexers assign subject headings to articles so that they can be organized by topic.


TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol The underlying method of communication between applications on the Internet.

telnet A program used to connect to a computer system over a network. In general, telnet provides the user with a "terminal" session so work, such as reading your electronic mail, can be performed.

Thesaurus Refers to a book and a database feature. The book lists alternate terms with similar meanings to the one you look up. In a database, a thesaurus uses the terms you choose to search on to lead you to other terms you may not have considered (related terms). While the book-type thesaurus presents you with a larger variety of words to choose from, the goal of a database thesaurus is to "funnel" your search into the unique, official language of the database "subject headings". For example, a database thesaurus might suggest that you use "automobiles" instead of the words car, cars, autos, vehicles, etc.

truncation In a search, the ability to enter the first part of a keyword, insert a symbol (usually *), and accept any variant spellings or word endings, from the occurrence of the symbol forward. (E.g., librar* retrieves library, libraries, librarian, librarians, etc.)


Unix Unix is an open source operating system found across the Internet. Unix is a multi-user system meaning many people can access it at one time.

URL - Universal Resource Locator A URL is a way of identifying or addressing Internet resources. Often called a "web address." URL's exist for specific files, or are used to identify servers. For example (web server) For more examples see the CERN document "WWW Name and Addresses, URIs, URLs, URNs"


volume A number of issues of a periodical, usually a year.


Windows Windows is operating system software that typically runs on a personal computer and uses a graphical user interface (gui).

Bottom of Glossary

Thomas D. Greenley Library

Greenley Library

Circulation: 934-420-2183
Reference: 934-420-2184


Mon-Thurs 7:45am - 11:00pm
Friday 7:45am - 5:00pm
Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday 1:00pm - 9:00pm

For Holidays, Breaks, See Special Hours

Last Modified 8/24/23