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Graduate Student Research Guide

Appropriate for all SNHU graduate students or individuals conducting research for graduate or scholarly papers with Shapiro Library resources.

Glossary of Library Terms

Use this glossary of common library terms to familiarize yourself with some of the words and phrases you may hear or see while searching in library resources or speaking with a librarian. For a more extensive glossary, check out Library Lingo from Colorado State University.

Glossary of Library Terms
Term Definition
Boolean Operators Words like AND, OR, and NOT which are used in database searches to help narrow down or broaden search results. For more information on Boolean Operators and Boolean Searching (that is, searching using Boolean Operators),see: FAQ: What is boolean searching and how can I use it?
Call Number A series of numbers and letters that are assigned to each library material. Call numbers are used to organize and categorize library materials so that materials on similar topics will be found near each other on the shelves. FAQ: What is a call number?
Citation The basic information about a material such as title, author, publisher, etc.
Database A collection of sources available and search-able online. Databases can include journals, ebooks, reviews, government documents, and more. Some databases are very subject specific (they only include sources about one or two subjects) while others can be very broad (they include sources about a number or all subjects). A-Z Database List.
Full Text The entire article or material.
Interlibrary Loan A service whereby patrons can request books, articles, and other materials from other libraries. For more information, check out the Interlibrary Loan page.
Journal A periodical which is usually more scholarly than a magazine. Journals may or may not be peer-reviewed.
Magazine periodical which is less scholarly than a journal.
Online Book Catalog Shapiro Library's online system for helping patrons find books and other library materials. Specifically, the online book catalog helps patron's find materials that are physically owned by the library, but some electronic resources can be found using the online book catalog as well. Online Library Catalog to view the Online Library Catalog.
Peer Reviewed Journals or other materials which have gone through a rigorous editorial process by subject experts. Journals or other materials which are peer-reviewed are scholarly. FAQ: What is a peer reviewed journal?
Primary Source An original material or first-hand account. FAQ: What is a primary source?
Secondary Source A material which is once-removed from a primary source; a second-hand account or critique of an event or topic. FAQ: What is a secondary source?
Stacks The main bookshelves in the library.

Adapted from:
Lederer, N. (2013, July 23). Glossary of Library Terms. Colorado State University Libraries. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from