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Glossary of Library Terms

Browse Terms Used at University Libraries or jump into the list!

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Impartial summary of a magazine or journal article. 

Located on Level A of Carlson Library, a collection of materials documenting the history of Clarion University and the records created by, for, and about Clarion University, as well as Clarion's students, alumni, and employees.

Photographs, records, and other publications in Archives do not circulate but may be used on-site. Contact Corene Glotfelty to schedule an appointment.

Verifying eligibility as a PennWest University student or employee authorized to use the Libraries' online resources and services.

Off-campus access is granted by using a myPennWest username and password. Read more about logging in from off-campus.



Bibliographic Record
Descriptive information of books, videos, CDs, etc., in the Libraries' online catalog.

Standard information includes author, title, location, call number, subjects, publisher, and description.

List of references - or works cited list - in a research paper.
The sources used for the paper.
A listing of citations/abstracts/annotations for books, book chapters, periodical articles, etc. on a topic or subject.


The United States in the Vietnam War, 1954-1975: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography of English-Language Sources.

Boolean Operators
"Connectors" used to search the Libraries' databases.

The most commonly used Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT. Combine search terms using these operators to expand or narrow a search or to exclude an idea from a search.


The AND operator narrows a search.

Search Apples AND Oranges to retrieve only items containing BOTH of the terms.

The OR operator expands a search.

Search Apples OR Oranges to retrieve citations and/or full-text items that mention EITHER of the terms.

Often used with synonyms and related terms, such as the search for Cats OR Felines.

The NOT operator excludes an idea from a search.

Search South America NOT Brazil to retrieve citations and/or full-text items that mention the first search term, but not the second.



Call Number
Unique identifying number used to designate the location of an item on the shelf within the Libraries.

The University Libraries use Library of Congress call numbers for most materials.

Dewey Decimal call numbers are used for the juvenile (children and young adult) collections.

Often refers to the descriptive information for individual items (such as periodical articles and book chapters) found within periodical indexing sources.

A citation for a periodical article generally includes such fields as article title, periodical title, author(s), issue date, volume number, issue number, and page numbers.

Also refers to items listed in a research paper's bibliography, reference list, or works cited list.

Controlled Vocabulary
A set of standard subject terms used by a database to describe the subject content of the items cited within the database. 

Many, if not most, databases use a controlled vocabulary. These controlled vocabularies vary from database to database.


The Libraries' online catalog uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings as its controlled vocabulary.

The ERIC database uses the Thesaurus of ERIC descriptors as its controlled vocabulary. 

A database's controlled vocabulary may be referred to in several different ways including subject headings, subject terms, or thesaurus.



An online, searchable collection of related information or citations.

The databases available through the Clarion University Libraries are listed on the Databases A-Z List.

Most of the databases subscribed to by the Clarion University Libraries are indexing/abstracting databases. This means that they provide indexing to periodicals, books, and other research resources as well as abstracts (summaries) of the articles within those sources.

Some indexing/abstracting databases are devoted to one subject area, while others are multidisciplinary.

Some are completely full-text or partially full-text, and provide instant, online access to the cited material.

Some databases provide access to information other than periodical or book chapter citations.


Multidisciplinary, Partially Full-text Databases:

  • Academic Search Ultimate

Provides indexing of periodical articles in a wide range of subject areas. It also provides full-text for many of the cited articles.

Indexing/Abstracting Databases:

  • Econlit

Indexing/abstracting database of periodical literature in the field of Economics.

    • Biological Abstracts

Devoted to the field of Biology.

Completely Full-Text Databases:

    • Westlaw Campus Research
    • JSTOR

Such databases provide indexing and abstracting, as well as complete full-text access.

Non-Periodical Databases:

    • Statista

Example of a database that provides access to data rather than citations to periodical articles or book chapters.

See: Controlled Vocabulary

Direct Borrowing InterLibrary Loan
Pennwest University has one direct borrowing InterLibrary Loan option: EZBorrow.  This system is currently offline and expects to be functional for Fall 2022.

Use EZBorrow to search the holdings of other Pennsylvania libraries for books not held by the University Libraries. Then, place a request to have materials sent to Carlson or Suhr Library for your use.

Periodical articles and media materials cannot be requested through EZBorrow. Use ILLiad to order periodical articles or media materials.

Because requested materials must be picked up at at a PennWest University Library, this service is not appropriate for most Online students. Online students should use the InterLibrary Loan services through ILLiad.



An electronic book available online.

Find citations to e-books in Primo, library catalog, or EBSCO Discovery Search now called OneSearch. Pull up the full record, and access the e-book through the web link provided.

To access an e-book from off-campus, users must authenticate using a myPennWest username and password.

As an alternative to using Primo, users may go to the E-Book Collections page to select a title or collection to search. This page also lists collections of e-books that are freely available on the Internet. 

See: Reserves

See: Direct Borrowing InterLibrary Loan.



Federated Search Engine
A special library search engine that searches most (if not all) library-subscribed databases at the same time.

The Libraries' federated search engine is known locally as OneSearch or EBSCO Discovery Service.

Oversized (physically large) books. See Also: Quarto.

Books in the Folio category measure over 30 cm (approximately 11.8 inches) in height or width.

In Carlson Library, most folios are located on Level A. Those in the Library of Congress Z classification and N classification are shelved on Level 2.

Folios are identified by a lower case "f" preceding the call number, and are listed as located in the Main Folio Collection in Primo.

Usually refers to the complete online availability of an information resource.

For example, a periodical article available in full-text means that the entire text of the article is available online, rather than just the citation and/or abstract.



When a book (or other item) that is needed is checked out of the library, a patron may contact the Circulation Desk to place a "hold" on the item. This designation blocks the current user from renewing the item. When the item is returned to the library, the person requesting a "hold" is allowed the first opportunity to check it out. 



Software system used to request and manage InterLibrary Loan (ILL) requests.

Online location that stores electronic articles that have been received from other libraries.

Online students use ILLiad to request materials from the University Libraries' collections.

Read more about ILLiad.

Research resource (print or electronic) used to locate information primarily by subject or topic, but also by other means.


  • Academic Search Ultimate (available through the A-Z Databases List) indexes periodical literature. This multidisciplinary index covers a wide variety of subject areas.
  • Business Source Complete is a subject/topic-specific index of periodical literature in business and related fields.
  • The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature is a multidisciplinary  print format index available in Carlson Library's reference collection. 

Information Literacy Instruction
University classroom faculty and Library faculty work together to introduce students to research resources, processes, and methodology. These sessions teach students to effectively and efficiently find, use, and critically evaluate information.

InterLibrary Loan
A free service that allows University students, faculty, and staff to obtain materials that are not available in the Libraries' on-site collections.

Online students may use the service to request materials from the Libraries' on-site collections.

The University uses ILLiad software to manage InterLibrary Loan requests.

For more information about InterLibrary Loan services, see the Library Services section of the Libraries' web site.

See also: Direct Borrowing InterLibrary Loan.



A type of periodical.

The term "journal" is sometimes used interchangeably with professional journal, scholarly journal, peer-reviewed journal, or refereed journal.

Generally refers to research-based publications, reporting on empirical research being done in a field. All academic and research fields have journals associated with them.


  • The Journal of the American Medical Association
  • The National Women's Studies Association Journal

The articles within scholarly journals are usually quite lengthy, have works cited/reference lists, and often report the results of research studies. Articles are often divided into sections including introduction, methodology, results and discussion. Most professors will require students to cite articles from journals in research paper's bibliography or works cited list.

Juvenile Book
A children's book or a book for young adults.



Keyword Searching
Generally refers to free-text searching, rather than more precise searching by controlled vocabulary terms or subject headings.


When searching the Libraries' online catalog (or other databases) using the keyword option, terms can appear in any field within the bibliographic record, citation, abstract, or full-text.



Online tool that allows users to submit reference questions to Ask a Librarian at PennWest University libraries.

Answers are provided within 24 hours (except over weekends and during holidays and University breaks).

Provides a searchable database of frequently asked questions. 

Research guides authored by University Librarians offer information sources on a wide variety of topics. See: PennWest Guides or legacy Clarion University Libraries' LibGuide collection

Library ID Number (or patron ID)

Note: Disregard until new PennWest ID's are stable

Clarion University students:

The number 9 plus your Clarion ID number. For example: 912345678.

I need help finding my student Clarion ID number!

Clarion University employees:

A nine-digit number consisting of a series of leading zeros followed by your employee ID number. (Use enough preceding zeroes to create a nine-digit number.) For example: 000098765.

Employee ID number can be found on current pay stub.



A type of periodical.

Generally refers to a popular publication issued on a regular basis that is intended for a general reader.

Examples of "magazines":

Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Car & Driver.

Professors often limit the number of "magazine" citations that they will accept in a research paper's bibliography or works cited list, since they are not research-based, scholarly publications.

A space-saving format used for the storage of documents that was popular before computers.

A microcard reader is needed to read and/or make copies from the microcards. In Carlson Library, a microcard reader is available in the Periodicals area on Level 1.

Examples of documents on microcard in Carlson Library include back-files of Hansard's Parliamentary Debates and United Nations Publications.

A space-saving format used for the storage of documents that was popular before computers. A flat piece of transparent film, usually measuring approximately 4 x 5.5 inches.

The use of a microfiche reader is needed to read and/or make copies from microfiche. In Carlson Library, a microfilm/microfiche reader is available in the Periodicals area on Level 1.

Examples of documents on microfiche in Carlson Library include back-files of ERIC documents and Early American Imprints.

A space-saving format used for the storage of back issues of newspapers and periodicals that was popular before computers. Transparent film on a reel or spool.

The use of a microfilm reader is needed to read and/or make copies from microfilm. In Carlson Library, two microfilm readers (accommodating two types of microfilm) are available in the Periodicals area on Level 1.

Example of a periodical on microfilm in Carlson Library is the back-file of the New York Times newspaper.

A book.



Subject/topic-specific research guides that point toward useful research resources and strategies.

Patron ID Number
See: Library ID Number

Peer-Reviewed Journal
See: Journal

A publication issued periodically on a regular basis. Term is sometimes casually used synonymously with the terms serial, magazine, or journal.

Periodical Article
An article that comes from a periodical (magazine, newspaper, or journal).

Popular Magazine
See: Magazine

Professional Journal
See: Journal



Oversized (physically large) books.

Also refers to a section of oversized books on Level A of Carlson Library. However, Library of Congress Z classification and N classification are shelved on Level 2.

Quartos are designated by a lower case "q" preceding the call number. The Libraries' online catalog often lists "Main Quarto Collection" as the location. 



When a needed book (or other item) is checked out and currently overdue, a patron may request the Circulation desk to place a "recall" on the item. This blocks the current user from renewing the item. When returned, the user requesting recall is notified and is given the first opportunity to check out the item. 

Refereed Journal
See: Journal

Reference Books
Dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, directories, etc. that are often used to answer quick questions or provide background information about a topic before pursuing more detailed research.

A service that imports citations (for books, periodical articles, book chapters, etc.) from various databases or allows manual citation input.

Citations can be formatted into bibliographies, works cited lists, or reference lists in a wide variety of styles and formats including the commonly used formats of APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago/Turabian

Reserves and E-Reserves
Materials that are physically placed in the Library (or on electronic reserve) by a professor for use by his or her classes.

To use Reserve material, users must present a valid University ID card.

    • Clarion campus hard-copy reserve items are stored at the Circulation desk in Carlson Library. 
    • Venango College hard-copy reserve items are stored at the Circulation desk in Suhr Library.

To use E-Reserve materials, users must use the password supplied by the professor. 

A critical, evaluative synopsis.

Citations to book and film reviews are found when searching many of the databases available on the Databases A-Z List.



Scholarly Journal
See: Journal

See: Periodical

Style Manual
A specific guide for formatting research papers, citing research sources, and organizing a works cited list, reference list, or bibliography.

Commonly used style manuals include:

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Chicago/Turabian.

Subject Headings
See: Controlled Vocabulary



See: Controlled Vocabulary





Last Updated 9/2/22