Skip to main content

Student Research Success - College and Career Readiness: Know Your Library

The following guide is based on the ACRL and AASL Standards for Information Literacy and was created to prepare students for college and career readiness as defined:

How can a librarian help you?

  • Help you get started by suggesting the best databases, books, journals
  • Help you brainstorm keywords and subject terms
  • Help you create and refine a good search strategy and query
  • Help you with citation questions
  • Help you locate the resources you need
  • Help you find the answers to questions about the campus
  • Refer you the right librarian for your needs (librarians have different responsibilities and expertise)


Abstract: a summary or brief description of the content of another longer work. An abstract is provided along with the citation to a work.


Archives: 1. A space which houses historical or public records. 2. The historical or public records themselves.


Article: A brief work - generally between 1 and 35 pages in length - on a topic. Often published as part of a journal, magazine, or newspaper.


Author: The person(s) or organization(s) that wrote or compiled a document.


Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document.


Book: A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. May be print or electronic.


Boolean operator: A word - such as AND, OR, or NOT - that commands a computer to combine search terms. Helps to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) searches.


Call number: A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. Two major types of call numbers are Dewey Decimal Call Numbers and Library of Congress Call Numbers.


Catalog: A database listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library.


Check-out: To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it. Check-out periods vary by library. Items are checked out at the circulation desk.


Circulation: The place in the library, often a desk, where you can check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report and item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there. (Also know as Access Services)


Citation: A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. A citation to a book includes its author’s name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.


Controlled vocabulary: standardized terms used in searching a specific database.


Course reserve: A selection of books, articles, videotapes, or other materials that instructors want students to read or view for a particular course. Print reserve materials are usually kept in one area of the library and circulate for only a short period of time.


Database: A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.


Document delivery: A service that retrieves or photocopies information sources for library users.


E-book: An electronic version of a book that could be read on a computer or mobile device.


Electronic Reserve (E-Reserve): An electronic version of a course reserve that is read on a computer screen.


Visit an Academic Library

Academic libraries are different that public libraries. Academic libraries support the research needs of the students and faculty. To arrange a visit to Henry Whittemore Library, contact Millie Gonzalez at

A typical visit would include:

  • Library tour
  • Discussion - professors expectations
  • Discussion - high school vs college
  • Library instruction - the basics of finding research using library resources



Encyclopedia: A work containing information on all branches of knowledge or treating comprehensively a particular branch or knowledge.


Hold: A request by a user to a library that a book checked out to another person be saved for that user when it is returned.


Holdings: The materials owned by a library.


Index: 1. A list of names or topics - usually found at the end of a publication - that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.


Interlibrary loan services: A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library.


Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports.


Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of an information resource that indicates its subject and is often used as a search term.


Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC): A computerized database that can be searched in various ways - such as by keyword, author, title, subject, or call number - to find out what resources a library owns. Also referred to as “library catalog” or “online catalog”.


PDF: A file format developed by Adobe Acrobat that allows files to be transmitted from one computer to another while retaining their original appearance both on-screen and when printed.


Peer reviewed journal: Peer review is a process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the experts peers. Peer review helps to  ensue the quality of an information sources by publishing only works of proven validity, methodology, and quality. Peer-reviewed journals are also called refereed or scholarly journals.


Periodical: An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals. Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.


Primary source: An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record or scientific documentation.


Reference: 1. A service that helps people find needed information. 2. Sometimes “reference” refers to reference collections, such as encyclopedias, indexes, handbooks, directories, etc. 3. A citation to a work is also known as a reference.


Secondary sources: Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.


Stacks: Shelves in the library where materials - typically books - are stored. Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number.



Subject Librarian

Hedda Monaghan's picture
Hedda Monaghan
Henry Whittemore Library
(508) 626-4664

Source for Definitions on this page

This page contains some of the definitions from ACRL's Multilingual Glossary of Terms. For a complete listing go to their website: