Glossary of Library Terms

  • Abstract – A summary of a journal article. Reading the abstract first can help you determine whether or not the full article will be useful. Some journal databases will have only abstracts or will have a combination of abstracts and full-text articles.
  • Call Number – A unique series of letters and numbers assigned to a book to tell you where it can be found on a library shelf. DVDs, CDs, government documents, microforms, and print periodicals are also assigned call numbers. You can use the MPI Online Catalog to find out what call number has been assigned to a particular item.
  • Catalog – A database that can be searched for books and other items to see if the library has the item in its collection. The catalog provides the call number to help locate the item on the library shelf. For circulating items, the catalog tells you whether or not the item has been checked out, and if so, when it is due to be returned to the library.
  • Circulate, Circulating Collection – If a book or other item can be checked out and removed from the library by a student or faculty member for a period of time, it is said to “circulate”. The MPI Library contains items for circulation (books that circulate). To check out a circulating item, please visit the MPI library with your materials and MPI Identification card
  • Citation – Information that uniquely identifies a source used for a paper or presentation, allowing others to find it. A citation usually consists of a title, author, publication date, and other publication information.
  • Database – An electronic collection of information, such as journal articles.
  • Hold Request, Reserves – A request that a book that has been checked out to someone else be placed on hold so that it cannot be checked out by anyone else once it is returned. To place a hold request, complete the Request to Borrow Checked Items form in the MPI catalog. This will notify the librarian to place the item on hold. As soon as the book is returned it is placed in the reserves and will remain on hold for 1 week. The user who placed the Hold Request will be notified automatically once the book is available.
  • Journal – A magazine-like periodic publication that contains research articles
  • Peer-Reviewed Journal Article – A research article that has been submitted by its author(s) to a journal for publication, but first reviewed by several other researchers (the “peers”, also known as “referees”) for appropriateness and to meet that field’s standards, in order to obtain approval for publication.
  • Periodical, Serial – A serial publication (see Serial) that comes out more than twice a year, such as a journal, magazine, or newspaper.
  • Reference Book, Reference Collection – A book that is not intended to be read in its entirety but instead is designed to be used to look up the answer to a question is known as a reference book. Reference books in the MPI Library are kept in the Reference Collection. These books may not be checked out but may be used inside the Library (including photocopying or scanning relevant pages).
  • Scholarly Journal Article – See Peer-Reviewed Journal Article.
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