Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Wallace Library


It's All Geek to Me: A Guide to Library Jargon

Not sure what librarians are talking about when they talk library-ese? Fret not! We've put together a guide to library jargon and what it means in plain English.


A summary or brief description of the content of another longer work, usually an article. Many library databases provide abstracts along with the citation to an article.

Access Services

At the Wallace Library, the library department that deals with circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, the information desk, and building access and security.


Historical records, such as collections of personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, account books, etc., as well as the buildings and spaces where they are kept. Wheaton's archives are the Marion B. Gebbie '01 Archives and Special Collections, on the Archives Level of the Wallace Library (accessible from the stair tower).


A short piece of non-fiction writing on a topic, usually ranging from 1-40 pages and published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper. (Chapters in edited collections or anthologies may sometimes also be referred to as articles.)



A list of citations or references to both primary and secondary sources cited in the text of an article or book, or suggested by the author author for further reading. It usually appears at the end of the work. Sometimes a bibliography will be annotated, meaning that each citation also contains a brief summary, similar to an abstract, of the contents of the work cited and why it is relevant to the topic of the bibliography or paper.


A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. Not to be confused with a novel. A non-fiction/scholarly book written by a single author or team of authors is often called a monograph, while a book consisting of articles or chapters put together by an editor is known as an anthology or edited collection. Books can be researched in the library catalog (in Wheaton's case, the HELIN catalog) and accessed either in print, in the stacks or as e-books.

Book Review

A short article that evaluates and critiques a published literary or scholarly work, usually written by an expert in the same field of study. Many library databases allow searching specifically for book reviews, including reviews of a particular book; Book Review Digest Plus is a database that exclusively covers book reviews.

Boolean Operators

A word—such as AND, OR, or NOT—that commands a computer to combine search terms in a query and helps to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) searches.

Call Number

A unique code printed on a label affixed to the outside of an item in a library collection. The call number is also displayed in item record in the library catalog, to identify the specific copy of the work and give its relative location on the shelf in the stacks. Wallace Library uses the Library of Congress Classification for call numbers.



Chicago Style



Citation Management Software

Software that helps users keep track of citations found during the research process, create bibliographies, and insert footnotes or endnotes into documents and format them according to a specific style guide. Examples include Zotero and RefWorks.

Sources: Adapted from the ACRL Multilingual Glossary of Terms, the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science (ed. Joan M. Reitz), and Wallace Library staff contributions.

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