Library jargon buster

Understand library and literature jargon and abbreviations

When using the library you will encounter a range of terms and acronyms that can often be confusing. We hope this short glossary will be of some help. If you cannot find what you want here you could try the 'A-Z index of this site'.

Library acronyms and terms

Abstract - a summary.
Aleph - the name of the library's computer system and Catalogue, from Ex Libris Ltd.
Boolean searching - searching using 'AND, OR, NOT' between search terms. Details on boolean searching.
Blackboard - an online learning environment system used at this university and many others Details on Blackboard, Blackboard website.
Catalogue - the Library Catalogue lists, and provides locations for, most print and film resources in our libraries, including videotapes, DVDs and microforms. About the Library Catalogue. Catalogue of other research libraries can be accessed via MetaLib.
CD-ROM - Compact Disc Read-Only Memory: an electronic storage device for information, which can include databases.
Citation searching/ Cited reference searching - a special type of search available on certain databases Details of citation searching.
COPAC - Copac is a combined library catalogue of many university, special, and national libraries in the UK and Ireland.
Classmark - books, and other materials, are arranged by subject classmark on the shelves. The classmark is displayed on the spines of the items. You can search using a classmark on the Catalogue.

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Database - a collection of information in electronic form. Bibliographic Databases are used to find references to published research. Many are subject based, and some will give you a summary, or abstract, of the contents of the items being referred to. More about databases.
DOI - Digital Object Identifier: A DOI is a unique identifier for an electronic document, such as a journal article, and is guaranteed never to change even if the URL alters. Our DOI search box can be used to view the options to Get it! (in a new window).  A general DOI lookup tool and a DOI resolver can be accessed via MetaLib, which can be used to find the DOI for a journal article you have bibliographic data for and link to a journal article or other digital object by using its DOI respectively.
EDINA - Edinburgh University Data Library: a database host.
Electronic book - a book that is published electronically and is usually available on the Internet. Often there are print and electronic versions of a book but there are also some electronic-only titles. eBooks (electronic books) page.
Electronic journal - a journal that is published electronically and is usually available on the Internet. Often there are print and electronic versions of a journal, but there are also some electronic-only titles. eJournals (electronic journals) catalogue.
Get it! - 'Get it!' links next to references found on MetaLib and other databases give you relevant links to services we provide for that reference. Typically these could include a link to full-text if we have a subscription, a link to our Library Catalogue's holdings page for the item, etc. Uses SFX software from Ex Libris. More about Get it!
Hold - the American word for 'Reservation'. This is used on the library catalogue to show that a reserved book is ready to be collected. It will say 'On hold'.

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Impact factor - a measurement intended to give an indication of how important different journal titles are. Impact factors for science and social science titles are given in Journal Citation Reports which can be accessed via the Material type--Journal impact factors category on MetaLib.
Inter-library loan (ILL) - a loan made between libraries, which you may need to request if items you want are not held by the University Library in print or online. More about ILL.
ISBN - International Standard Book Number: most books published since the mid-1960s have one of these unique identifying numbers. Books are now published with both ISBN-13 (new style) and ISBN-10 (old style) numbers, and the ISBN-13 converter accessible via MetaLib allows you to work out one from the other.  Amazon often quotes both for a particular new book and they are usually given on library catalogues (see the Full view of the UOB Library Catalogue).  Search for a book using its ISBN on Google, Google Scholar, library catalogues (use Advanced search on the UOB Library Catalogue), or some databases.
ISSN - International Standard Serial Number: most journals published have one of these unique identifying numbers.  Search for a journal using its ISSN on Google, Google Scholar, library catalogues (use Advanced search on the UOB Library Catalogue), or some databases.  SUNCAT, a catalogue of journals available in many UK academic and research libraries, is accessible via MetaLib
JANET - Joint Academic Network: an electronic communications network for UK higher education.
Journal - a journal is defined as a publication appearing usually at regular intervals in a numbered sequence. Alternative terms are serial, periodical and magazine (though this last is little used in academic environments). See also Electronic journals.
JSTOR - a digital archive of core scholarly journals. At Bristol access is via our eJournals catalogue though you can also connect to JSTOR directly.
Keyword(s) - important words which summarize information. You can use keywords when you search the Internet, library catalogue or a database. Further information about choosing and combining search terms.

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Libertas - the name of the library's old computer system and catalogue, replaced in Summer 1999 by the Aleph system.
Loan - an item, for example a book, which is being borrowed.
MetaLib: your resource gateway - our gateway to databases and key Internet resources. Uses software from Ex Libris. More about MetaLib.
MIMAS - Manchester InforMation and Associated Services: a database host.
MyBristol - MyBristol is the University of Bristol’s web portal, a gateway to web-based services within and beyond the University.
Off-site Proxy - the Off-site Proxy allows members of the university to make their computer be recognised as though it were on the University network address and allow access to resources which are normally restricted to on-campus use only. Information on how to access electronic resources when I’m outside the University.
OPAC - Online Public Access Catalogue: also refers to a terminal for accessing the Library's online Catalogue.
Open access publishing - An article is "Open Access" if it can be freely accessed by anyone via the internet, rather than only available in full-text to subscribers.
Overdue notice - an overdue notice is sent to a borrower if they keep an item past its 'Date due for return'.  Further details of library borrowing, including how to renew your loans.
Periodical - a periodical is defined as a publication appearing usually at regular intervals in a numbered sequence. You may be more familiar with the alternative term journal.
Portal - MyBristol is the University of Bristol’s web portal, a gateway to web-based services within and beyond the University.
Remote Desktop - the Student Remote Desktop and the Staff Desktop allow members of the university to access the University from any computer with an Internet connection, with a full remote desktop, which works in exactly the same way as if you were sat at a PC on Campus. Information on how to access electronic resources when I’m outside the University.

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Quick search - a search box on the Library homepage with tabs for 'Books, etc', Journals, 'Articles & Databases' and Internet, which facilitates use of our search tools More about Quick search.
Reservation - to obtain an item currently on loan to another you may make a reservation request, using the Reserve option on the Library Catalogue.  Further details of reservations.
Retrieve - to get or fetch some data from an information source like a database.
Search engine - indexes to resources on the internet. There are many different ones. A selection of search engines can be found in the internet searching section.
Serial - a serial is defined as a publication appearing usually at regular intervals in a numbered sequence. You may be more familiar with the alternative term journal.
Series - a series is defined as a publication appearing at intervals in a numbered sequence.
SFX - the software used for our 'Get it!' service, from Ex Libris.
Sherpa - a number of tools to help researchers find out how to make their research publicatications open access. Includes Sherpa FACT, Sherpa JULIET and Sherpa Romeo. Sherpa website.
Shibboleth - an authentication system for gaining access to electronic resources which we subscribe to, such as databases and ejournals. Replaced the ATHENS system at the University of Bristol in August 2008. Further details.
SLC - Short Loan Collection: most of the branch libraries have an SLC, where popular recommended textbooks and journal articles are kept. More about the SLC.
Standard loan - Standard loan is 28 days for undergraduates and taught postgraduates, and 84 days for research postgraduates and staff.
Store - the Library has a Store in Brislington, which contains lesser-used books and journals.  Further details, including how to request items from Store.
Subject gateway or tree - a subject breakdown of Internet resources. Links to some examples.
Web of Knowledge - a portal to various databases including Web of Science (see below) which are individually available through MetaLib. Web of Knowledge portal.
Web of Science - a number of databases available through Web of Knowledge (see above). Details of databases available at Web of Science.

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Some common literature terms and abbreviations

abstr. - abstract, abstracted
anon. - anonymous
bibliog. - bibliography: A bibliography is a list of references, to books or sometimes to articles in journals. Bibliographies can take a variety of forms. Details on bibliographies.
c. - circa, about
ca. - circa, about
cc - carbon copy
cf. - confer, to compare one source with another
chap. - chapter
comp. - compiler
ed. - edition
(ed.) - edited by
Ed. - Editor
e.g. - exemplii gratia, for example
esp. - especially
et al. - et alia, and others
etc. - et cetera, and the rest
f. - following page
ff. - following pages
hbk. - hardback
ibid. - ibidem, in the same place, usually found in a list of references and which means in the same book, or journal, referring to the previously mentioned reference.
id. - idem, the same author
i.e. - id est, that is
illus. - illustration(s)
(illus.) - illustrated by
infra - below
loc. cit. - in the passage already quoted
ms. - manuscript
mss. - manuscripts
n.d. - no date
no. - number
No. - number (as in Number 6)
non seq. - it does not follow
op. cit. - opere citato, in the work quoted
p. - page
passim - here and throughout the work
pbk. - paperback
pp. or p.p. - pages
Pt. - part
rev. ed. - revised edition
ser. - series
[sic] - thus, so written
s.l. - sine loco, no place
s.n. - sine nomine, no name
Suppl. - supplement
supra - above
trans. - translated by
vol. - volume (as in one volume)
Vol. - volume (as in Volume 3)

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Useful tools

Define a word using Google :

eg define citation
Google's translation tool
Acronym and abbreviation finder tools - part of the British Library's virtual reference library

AbeBooks Glossary - includes sections on book sizes, book condition descriptions, common abbreviations, and a general glossary listing other relevant book terms.