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  Glossary of Library Terms

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Click on this link to contact a library staff member and ask a question about library resources or services

Call number
The numeric or alphanumeric identifier assigned to an item; this unique number is used to shelve and locate items in the Library collection; at Brown we use the Library of Congress call numbers for most of our collections and some local call number schemes. For example: LB1574.5 .G72 2006 located on the 4th floor of the Rockefeller Library.

A study space and desk reserved for graduate students and faculty. Carrels can be requested at the Service Desks at the Rockefeller Library and the Sciences Library. See carrel availability at:

Borrow library materials using a Brown ID

A brief description of a text (book, article, report, World Wide Web page, or other) that has been quoted, paraphrased, or used as an authority. A complete citation for a book includes author, title, place of publication, publisher, and year. A complete citation for a periodical or magazine article includ author and title of the article, title of the periodical, volume number, page numbers, and the dates.
The elements of a complete citation for other types of publications are different. Furthermore, even for the same type of publication, the exact arrangement and formatting of a citation is dictated by a style manual. The choice of style manual depends on the discipline or subject matter. Faculty members and librarians will provide guidance to students as to which style manual to use for formatting complete citations.

Collections Annex
Location where the Library houses materials with low circulation or in need of preservation. Items from the Annex can be requested by clicking on the “Request It” button in Josiah and the material will delivered to campus. Journal articles will be scanned and sent as an email attachment.

Course reserves

A collection of information in electronic format, searchable by a computer. Encompasses online bibliographies, catalogs and indexes. May include journal articles, book chapters or full books. Also called e-resources

The Library's Center for Digital Initiatives is responsible for production of digital materials for use in scholarship and teaching efforts at Brown. See also Electronic

Borrow books from other libraries with a simple search and request form.

Information transmitted by means of a computer including resources available on the Web. Users of the Brown University Library have access to Electronic books and Electronic journals.

Find It
Software that enables searchers to link from a database citation to a full-text article or another bibliographic tool;

Free Internet Resources
Resources available on the Internet which require no fee and no access restriction; also referred to as free web.

A way to request to be notified when library materials checked out by another user have been returned

Individual items held by a library in any format

A list of names, terms or keywords that guide readers to the contents of books, periodical articles, images, and other published items.

Use your ILLiad account to submit, review and track your Interlibrary Loan requests as well as request renewals for items currently charged out through Interlibrary Loan. You can also elect to receive requested articles electronically

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
A way to obtain materials such as a book or a copy of an article from another library. See easyBorrow and ILLiad

About the Libraries
A brief description of the seven facilities of the Brown University Library.

Loan period
The length of time library materials can be borrowed; the day the loan period ends is called the due date

In libraries, the term is used to describe print and non-print materials such as DVDs, films, recordings, slides & digital; media are located at the Orwig Music Library, the Sciences Library, the John Hay Library.

A reduced sized photographic reproduction of printed information on reel to reel film (microfilm) or film cards (microfiche) or opaque pages that can be read with a special reader.

Online Course Reserves Access: a service that manages the circulation of electronice course materials selected by professors or teaching assistants

Off-Campus Access Service
License agreements for most of the Library's electronic resources permit access from off campus only to current University students, faculty and staff. Brown users must authenticate with a Brown username and password before gaining access to these licensed resources.

Any capability available or work done directly on a computer

Online Public Access Catalog: at Brown the online catalog is called Josiah

Items of a large size; at the Brown Library these items are marked 1-SIZE, 2-SIZE or 3-SIZE. For additional information go to: for the Rock and for Sciences

A publication appearing or intended to appear indefinitely at regular or stated intervals, generally more frequently than annually, each issue of which normally contains separate articles, stories, or other writings

A request for the return of library materials before the end of the loan period or due date

The process of extending the loan period of library materials. Most renewals can be done online.

Request This
Josiah-linked service includes recalling an item in the catalog that was checked out by another user or having the Annex scan and send an article.

Resource guide
Prepared by subject librarians, these guides offer a list of resources in specific subject areas

Book, article, video, or other resource that a faculty has indicated to be read or viewed for class. The item is typically located at the circulation desk and may circulate for a shorter loan time. For electronic reserves, see OCRA.

A publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronological designations and intended to be appearing indefinitely

Service Desk
Place where you check out, return, and inquire about the location of library materials and ask for assistance or information about library resources and services. At the Sciences Library the desk is on Level A.

Special Collections
The John Hay Library houses those materials which require special handling and preservation. While many of the items in Special Collections are rare or unique, a majority of the materials are part of large subject-oriented collections which are maintained as discrete units.

The area where library collections are shelved; "open" stacks allow all users to browse through collections while "closed" stacks are only accessible to library staff

Subject Librarians
Librarians specialized in specific subject areas; their role is to assist faculty and students in conducting their research, acquire materials needed for teaching and research, and inform the Brown community of the services and resources offered by the Library.

Selected Library Glossaries

Library terminology (Brigham Young University, available in English, French, German, and Spanish

Multilingual glossary for today's library users (Academic & Research Libraries Intruction Section)