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University of Portland Clark Library

How to Use the Library

Library Lingo Explained: Using This Glossary

The academic environment, including the library, has its own lingo which might be unfamiliar to you. This glossary contains definitions for commonly used terms and concepts to help you with navigating the Clark Library and using information. Don't see a term in the glossary? Let us know and we'll explain more. For other languages, see Multilingual Library Terms.

UP Specific Terms

A-Z Databases: Alphabetical list of the library's subscription, and some free, databases. Filter by subject area or database content. Visit the A-Z Databases list. 

Digital Lab: Provides current UP students with the equipment and support to produce audio, video, photography, and design projects. Learn more about the Digital Lab (now located in the new Shiley-Marcos Center for Design & Innovation building).

Get it @ UP: A special tool that searches the Clark Library's collection to locate full text and connect you to it. If full text is not directly available, there will be an option to request it through Interlibrary Loan. Learn more about Get it @ UP.

Summit: A regional consortium of academic libraries that share their collections with each other through a system named Summit. The Clark Library is a member, so you can easily request physical materials (books, DVDs, CDs) from those other libraries through UP Library Search for delivery to the Clark Library's main desk for pick up.

UP ILLiad: The online system for requesting journal articles, book chapters, and books through Interlibrary Loan. Learn more about Interlibrary Loan.

UP Library Search: The library catalog which provides one-stop searching for books, eBooks, DVDs, streaming videos, and articles from the Clark Library, Summit, and beyond. Learn more about UP Library Search.


Abstract: A short summary describing what a journal article or book is about.

Article: A shorter work—generally between 1 and 35 pages in length—on a topic. Often published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper. Also used to describe individual entries in an encyclopedia.

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

Authoritative: A credible or trusted source of information. The authors are experts, or knowledgeable "authorities," on a topic.

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

Book: A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. Scholarly books are written by experts in the field, or are an edited collection of papers contributed by experts.

Boolean operator: The words AND, OR, or NOT which can be used in many library databases as commands to combine search terms. Used to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) the results of a search.

Call number: A unique alphanumeric code that libraries use to organize materials on shelves so anyone can find them. The Clark Library uses the Library of Congress system to organize most of its collection, but also uses the Dewey Decimal system for the Children's Literature section. Read more about using call numbers to find books.

Catalog: A database listing and describing the books, journals, videos, and other materials available from the library. The Clark Library catalog is named UP Library Search.

Chat: An online service enabling patrons to ask questions from anywhere. The Clark Library is part of a 24/7 Library Chat service, so you can ask questions at any time.

Check out: To borrow an item from the library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it. Clark Library materials can be borrowed at the main Service Desk.

Circulation: The department that staffs the Service Desk and handles check outs, renewals, and return of library materials.

Citation: Information that identifies a specific source of information, such as an article or book, and enables others to locate the source. Learn more about citing sources.

Consortium: An association of two or more libraries with the objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal. The Clark Library belongs to the Orbis Cascade Alliance consortium.

Course reserves: A library service that your professors might use to make assigned course readings available to you in one place. Learn more about course readings.

Database: A collection of searchable information stored in an electronic format. The Clark Library has over 200 databases covering many disciplines and topics.

Dissertation: An extended written treatment of a subject (like a book) submitted by a graduate student as a requirement for obtaining a doctoral degree.

Document delivery: A service that obtains copies of information sources from other libraries on your behalf, and often at no extra charge. This service is handled by the Clark Library's Interlibrary Loan department.

DOI: The acronym for Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique code assigned by a publisher to a digital object, such as an article within a journal.

eBook (or electronic book): An electronic version of a book that can be read online. Learn more about eBooks.

Editor: A person or group responsible for compiling the writings of others into a single information source.

Full Text: A complete electronic copy of a resource, usually an article or book. Learn more about finding the full text.  

Hold: A request to have an item saved (put aside) to be picked up later. Holds can be placed on Clark Library books, CDs, DVDs found through UP Library Search. Learn how to place a hold.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL): A service where the library borrows materials from other libraries on your behalf. Use the UP ILLiad system to request materials beyond the Clark Library's collection. Learn more about Interlibrary Loan.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research written by experts and published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. See also Periodical.

Keyword: Words or terms used to search for sources on a topic, or for specific sources using words from a title.

Limits or limiters: Filters that can be selected to focus results by certain criteria, such as source type, subject area, publication year, peer review, full text, and others.


Multimedia: A resource that presents information using a combination of media (audio, video, images, text, etc.). Learn more about Multimedia.

PDF: The acronym for Portable Document Format. A file format developed by Adobe Acrobat® which enables files to be transmitted from one computer to another while retaining their original appearance both on-screen and when printed.

Peer review: Evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by experts working in the same field as the authors. This peer evaluation process is often used by journals to screen submitted papers to ensure that quality ones are selected for publication. A peer reviewed journal can also be called a refereed journal or scholarly journal. Learn more about peer review.

Periodical: An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.

Persistent Links: Direct URLs to the library's online resources (articles, streaming videos, ebooks, etc.) that work from on campus or off campus. Can also be referred to as permanent links, permalinks, stable URLs, or share links. Learn more about persistent links.

Plagiarism: Using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging the original source.

Primary source: Can be documents, images, or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence. Examples are original research articles and reports, datasets, original documents (diaries, speeches, public records, texts of laws), or newspaper articles with eyewitness accounts.

Publisher: An organization or company that produces and publishes works such as books, journals, and newspapers.

Reference: 1. A library service that helps people find needed information. 2. Also used to describe collections of sources, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, etc. 3. A citation to a work is also known as a reference.

Remote access: The ability to log on for access to library resources from any location.

Renewal: An extension of the loan period for library materials.

Reserve: See Course reserves.

Scholarly: Published works, such as journal articles, written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. Most journals use a peer review process for submitted papers.

Secondary sources: Sources such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. They usually evaluate or interpret data or evidence found in original research or historical documents such as manuscripts or memoirs.

Stacks: Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books are arranged on shelves by call number.

Style manual: Provides guidelines for writing papers so they conform to a specific format for the overall paper and for the sources used in writing the paper.

Multilingual Library Terms

From the Multilingual Glossary for Today's Library Users by the Instruction Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries. | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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