Library glossary


Abstract: A summary of an article or paper. It often appears at the beginning.  

Academic sources: Academic or scholarly sources are usually written by subject experts and include references. Many also go through a (peer) review process before publication to verify the quality and accuracy of the work. 

APA 7th style:APA 7th is one of many bibliographic referencing systems used at the university. 

Authentication: A security process of verifying the identity of users before allowing them to access certain information.  

Available: A term used in the catalogue to indicate that a library item is currently free for borrowing.  


Bibliography: A list of source materials (such as books, articles, reports, news articles and etc) used in writing a research paper or other document.

Boolean operators​: Connecting words like AND, OR, and NOT are used to combine search terms to either narrow or broaden search results.  


Call number: Each item in the Library has a label (usually numbers) that indicates the location of an item in a library collection.  

Canvas: Canvas is the University of Sydney's online learning management system. It contains all your unit of study (UOS) information and can be accessed here.  

Catalogue: Records with detailed descriptions, availability status and location information for the books, journals, audio-visual and other materials in a library collection. It is available online.  Shape

Citation:  A brief description of a book, journal article, or other work containing elements such as title, author, year, publisher and etc to identify and locate that work. Shape

Citation style:  A citation style outlines how the words and punctuation are arranged to create a citation or reference. The order will depend on the reference system used (MLA, APA 7th) but usually includes author, title, and publisher or publication information. See also Citation, References.  

Conference proceedings: These are the published collection of papers presented at an association's conference or meeting.  Shape

Curriculum collection: The Fisher Curriculum collection is very useful for education students. It includes books, kits and other teaching resources especially designed for primary and secondary schools. 


Databases: Are searchable online collections of resources. The Library subscribes to many databases relevant to your study and research. Most of them are full text available. You can find the databases page here.  

Dissertation: A long essay written on a subject submitted by a graduate as a requirement for a University degree. See also Thesis.  

DOI (Digital Object Identifier):  It provides a persistent link to the electronic form of a document. It is made up of letters and numbers. It helps to identify online material such as journal articles, books and chapters, conference papers, reports, and so on.  


EBook: An eBook or electronic book is a digital publication that can be read online using a computer, e-reader or another electronic device. 

Editor: A person or group responsible for collecting pieces of writings by different authors and compiling them for publication.  

eReserve: A link to your unit of study readings is located in your CANVAS or Blackboard site. The link is called eReserve and shows both online and print books, journal articles and other materials your lecturer wants you to read and view. 

Encyclopedia: A reference book or a set of reference books containing information on all the subjects or limited to a special field or subject. It often has entries or articles arranged alphabetically.  

EndNote: A reference management software tool that enables you to collect, organise and cite while you write. Find more information here.  


Fieldwork: Academics and researchers may undertake a period of firsthand observation to gather information in their field of research e.g. an archaeologist may spend time on an archaeological site in Egypt before writing journal articles for publication. See also Subject expert.

Full text: The electronic copy of an entire resource, usually an article or a book viewed on a computer display screen.


Google Scholar: This online, freely accessible search engine allows users to look for physical and digital information with an academic or scholarly focus.  See also Databases.

Government documents: Reports, articles, and statistics provided by state and federal governments.

Graduate Qualities: The University of Sydney has identified nine graduate qualities for students to develop during their degree including Information and digital literacy. Click here for further information. See also Information and digital literacy.

Grey literature: Materials that have not been published commercially and are not available via major databases are considered to be grey literature. This information may not have been published formally at all, and may not be peer-reviewed. Grey literature includes reports, conference papers, clinical guidelines, registered trials, theses and dissertations, informal communication, websites, official documents, newsletters, and patents.

Hold: A borrower's request for a book checked out to another borrower. It will be held on return and can be collected from the 'awaiting pickup' shelves.


Index: A list of names or topics listed at the end of a publication that indicates the pages where those names and topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A print or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author or other search terms.

Information & Digital Literacy: Information and Digital Literacy skills include the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

Information source: An information source is anything from which information comes or is obtained i.e. books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, journals, databases, films, maps, newspapers, the internet or people.

In-text referencing: An in-text referencing can be called an in-text citation and is a short reference to an information source. It is located within the body of a text such as a research assignment or scholarly book or article. See also Citation, References.

Interlibrary loan (ILL): Library service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through the University Library. See also Resource sharing.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which includes scholarly articles, papers, research reports or technical reports. See also Periodical.Shape

Journal article: A journal article is a short-written work on particular topic that is published in print or digital format in a journal.


Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term appearing in title, abstract or text of an information resource. It is often used as a search term.Shape

Keynote address: A keynote address is a talk that establishes the main underlying theme of a conference. See also Conference Proceedings.


Library loans: The items borrowed from a library.  

Live Chat​: It is an instant messaging service that enables you to ask questions and talk to the Library staff in real-time.  

Library Search: Library Search is the Library’s search engine. It allows you to do keyword searches to find relevant information sources in the University’s print and online collections. Library Search is sometimes referred to as the catalogue. See also Search engine


Manuscripts: Manuscripts can refer to very old documents that were written by hand before printing was invented and books were made. Manuscripts however can also refer to a writer's original, unpublished work whether it's handwritten or typed. 

Microform: A reduced sized photographic reproduction of information on reel to reel film (microfilm)  or film cards (microfiche) that can be read with a microform reader. Fisher Library has two ScanPro 2000 scanners on Level 1 near the microform compactus area. No need to pre-book.  

Multimedia: An information resource represents information using more than one media (print, picture, video or audio). 


Off-campus access: Accessing the Library resources when you are not at the University campus.  


Paraphrase: Paraphrasing means to use your own words to explain someone else's idea or research in your assignments. See also Plagiarism

Paywall: A paywall prevents Internet users from accessing online web page content. This usually means that you are required to pay a subscription fee to access the information. See also Subscription

Peer-reviewed journal: A journal where the articles published within it have been reviewed by experts in the same subject area. The peer-reviewed process ensures the quality of a journal.  

Periodical​: A publication issued on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, or biannually). See also Journal

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is copying someone's work or using someone's ideas without proper referencing. Plagiarism is an act of  fraud.  

Popular sources: Popular sources can be written by anyone and are usually for a general audience. These sources don’t usually go through a peer-reviewed process before publication. See also Information Source, Primary sources, Resources, Peer-reviewed, Secondary sources

Primary source: An original source that is closest to the original event, research or experience. 


Reading list: A link to your unit of study readings is located on your CANVAS site. The link is called Reading list and shows both online and print books, journal articles and other materials your lecturer wants you to read and view.  

Recall:  A request for the return of a library item before the due date. See also Hold

References: References can also be called citations. They are listed in a bibliography or reference list at the end of a publication. References contain all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. See also Bibliography, Citation, Reference list

Reference list: The reference list or bibliography is usually located at the end of a work. It includes a list of sources such as books, journal articles and news articles, referred to in an assignment or research paper. See also Bibliography, Reference system

Reference system: A referencing system provides specific guidelines on how to acknowledge or cite the sources used in a work e.g. APA 7th, MLA or Harvard. For more styles view the Library’s Referencing and Citation Styles. See also Citation styleShape

Renew:  A request for extending the due date of an item borrowed from the Library.  Shape

Resource: A resource is anything from which information comes or is obtained. They can be in print or online. EResource examples include library catalogues, online databases, blogs and films or video clips on YouTube. Your library is also a Resource! See also: Information source, Popular sources, Primary sources, Secondary sourcesShape

Resource sharing:  Library service that enables staff, postgraduate students, honours students and Undergraduate students (with a limit of 10 requests per year) to access materials not held in our collection.  Shape

RSS feed: Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a type of web feed which allows users to access updates to online content in a standardized, computer-readable format. The updates or summaries of information sent to you are called feeds. 


Search engine: A search engine is a program that allows online users to add keywords to search for relevant information. Google and Google Scholar are search engines providing access to free online content. The Library Search which provides access to the library’s collection. See also Database(s), Google Scholar, Library Search.  Shape

Search strategy: When you design a search strategy you are planning how you will search and use the information you find. Important steps include identifying your information need and the keywords you will use to find information. See also Search string.  

Search string: A search string is the combination of  keywords and search operators e.g. AND, OR that you search in a search engine to find relevant and accurate results on a topic. See also Search strategy.  

ShapeScholarly sources: Scholarly or academic sources are usually written by subject experts and include references. Many also go through a (peer) review process before publication to verify the quality and accuracy of the work. See also Academic sources

ShapeSecondary source:  Material on analysing primary sources. Usually it provides an evaluation or interpretation of data and evidence found in primary sources.  

ShapeStacks: Bookshelves in a library where materials are stored. Books in the Library are arranged by Call number.  

ShapeStreaming films: Streaming films are online documentaries and movies that you can view in real-time. The University of Sydney Library’s streaming site is called Kanopy.   

ShapeStyle manual: Referencing style guidelines for students and researchers who are writing assignments or research papers. It outlines specific formats for arranging research papers and citing the sources that are used in writing the paper. e.g. APA 7th publication manual 

ShapeSubject Expert: A person such as an academic, historian, or researcher with extensive knowledge based on research in a particular area of study. Experts are considered authorities in their field.   

ShapeSubject heading: A description assigned to a topic or subject. It often appears in the catalogue record. Also called a descriptor or controlled vocabulary.  

Subscription: A subscription is fee users pay regularly to access specific content. For instance, the library pays subject-specific database subscriptions so you can access relevant up-to-date research for your Unit of Study. See also Paywalls.  Shape

Synonyms: A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language i.e. film or movie. See also Keyword, Thesaurus.  


Thesis: It is a lengthy scholarly essay submitted for a University degree. See also Dissertation. 

Thesaurus: A thesaurus is a reference work listing words grouped together according to the similarity of their meaning. You can use it to find similar words for your topic and to search them in a search engine to find relevant information. See also Synonyms. 


Uniform resource locator (URL): A unique webpage address which is used in locating it. A URL consists of the access protocol (http), the domain name (e.g. and often the path to a file or resource residing on that server. 

Unit of Study (UOS): Students enrol in Individual courses called Unit of Study. Unit of Study information is available via Canvas including recommended reading lists and assessment details.

Translations of the glossary

The Library glossary is also available in Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Thai.

Sources used in the creation of this page 

University of Southern California Library (2018, June 15). Library terminology: Glossary of library terms. Retrieved from

University of Tasmania Library (2018, May 8). Library glossary. Retrieved from


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