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Linguistics: Freshmen & Senior Essayists

Important definitions

Some important library definitions that you should be familiar with:


Barcode Number
The 14-digit number appearing beneath the barcode found in the beginning or end papers of a book.


Book review

A book review (or book report) is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. It is often carried out in periodicals, as school work, or on the internet. Reviews are also often published in magazines and newspapers.


A bibliography is a list of citations for books, periodical articles, articles in books, theses, and other materials. Published bibliographies on specific subjects are often found at the end of articles and entries in reference books. The presence of a bibliography is one of the signs of a work of scholarship as opposed to a popular work, for example.


A biography is a description or account of someone's life and the times, which is usually published in the form of a book or an essay, or in some other form, such as a film.


Information which fully identifies a publication: a complete citation usually includes author, title, name of journal (if the citation is to an article) or publisher and place of publication (if to a book), and date. Often pages, volume numbers, and other information will be included in a citation.


Cross Reference
A term used in catalogs, thesauruses, reference books, and indexes to lead you from one form of entry to another (e.g., American poets see Poets--American).


A collection of information arranged into individual records to be searched by computer.



A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them.


a reference work (often in several volumes, also spelled encyclopaedia or encyclopædia) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge or with some particular specialty.


A part of a record used for a particular category of data. For instance, the title (ti) field displays the title for each record in the database. Some of the other fields names are author (au), journal (jn) and abstract (ab).


A library user may place a hold on a book charged out to another person; this ensures that the person placing the hold will be next in line to receive the book when the book is returned.


Index - Periodical Indexes and Abstracts
Periodical indexes are searchable databases or print serials of articles which have appeared in journals, magazines, or newspapers. They cite the author, title, name of periodical, volume, pages and date of publication. They often include abstracts--brief summaries of the content of the article. For example MLA Bibliography.

Library Catalog

A library catalog (or library catalogue) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations.

Literary criticism

A written evaluation of a work of literatur. The evaluative or interpretive work written by professional interpreters of texts. It is "criticism" not because it is negative or corrective, but rather because those who write criticism ask hard, analytical, crucial, or "critical" questions about the works they read.


Literature review, see the following page: Literature reviews

Films, tapes, disks and other audio-visual materials that require the use of special listening or viewing equipment.


Documents, often ones that are bulky or liable to deteriorate rapidly, which have been photographed and reduced in size to preserve them and to reduce the storage space required. Common formats for microforms are microfilm, microfiche, and microcard (micro-opaque). College catalogs, telephone books, newspapers, magazines and government documents are available in microform in many Cornell libraries.


Words such as AND, OR, and NOT that are used to combine search terms to broaden or narrow the results of a keyword search. Combining terms using operators is sometimes called Boolean searching.


Publications which are issued at least twice a year, including journals, magazines, and newspapers. Current periodicals are those which have recently arrived and are usually kept in loose binders, or on open shelves. Bound periodicals are back issues which have been sent to the bindery, covered with a binding, and placed in the stacks.


Library users may place recalls on books charged out to other people. The people to whom the materials are charged are notified by mail that another library user wants the book. Recalled books must be returned within a short period of time, usually a week.


A collection of related data, arranged in fields and treated as a unit. The data for each article in an online database makes up a record.


An extension of the loan period for charged library materials. Renewals may be handled in person at the circulation desk, by phone, or online.


Reserve Reading
A selection of specific books, periodical articles, videotapes, and other materials which faculty have indicated that students must read or view for a particular course. These materials are usually kept together in one area of the library and circulate for a short period of time only. Or they are available online as e-Reserve documents.


Reference Collection
A selection of networked, CD-ROM, and printed library materials used by reference librarians and reference assistants to help people find information or to do research. Reference collections contain many sources of information, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, directories, or statistical compilations. They may also have bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts. Printed reference materials usually do not leave the library. 


Reference Librarian
Reference librarians are specialists in the field of information retrieval. Generally they have a Masters degree in library science, and many have other graduate degrees as well. They are available at reference desks to help you find the information you are looking for.



Publications that appear more or less regularly--daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or biennally, for example. Newspapers, journals, magazines, and almanacs are all examples of serials.


The stacks are the part of the library which houses the physical collection. Books and periodicals are arranged on shelves in the stacks.


Subject Headings
Words or phrases assigned to books and articles and used to index these items by topic. Determining the correct headings for a specific database or catalog is an important part of effective research. See also Thesaurus.

A list of all the subject headings or descriptors used in a particular database, catalog, or index.