Useful Library vocabulary

A list of definitions for words and language used in the Library. Text in bold means that word has its own description in this glossary.



A short summary of the main points of a piece of work such as a journal article or conference paper.

Academic Liaison Librarian

Formerly known as Academic Liaison Librarians, each academic department now has a team of Faculty Librarians who can advise you on how to find the right material or how to use the most useful resources for your studies or research. Find out who your Faculty Librarian is from your Subject Guide.

Advanced search

This term is found in databases and on YorSearch. It allows you to improve your search to help you receive more accurate and relevant results.

Alerts/Alerting service

Most major databases offer an alerting service, which will send you regular emails to notify you when new articles relevant to your research area appear in the database.

Alphabetical order

When something is arranged in order of the Latin or Roman alphabet (Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Ww, Xx, Yy, Zz).


This can be used to refer to electronic or physical collections of historical materials. The University has its own archive, the Borthwick Institute for Archives.


See the definition of journal article.

Audio visual

The Library has an audio visual (AV) collection, known as the John Barry Audiovisual collection. This simply means that as well as collections of books, we have films and documentaries, music and language DVDs, CDs, audio tapes and videos.


The person who has written the book, journal article or web page.

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Every item in the Library has a unique barcode attached to it. This is how we know who has borrowed a particular copy of a book. There is also a barcode on your University/Library Card which you scan when you issue books.

Being catalogued

When the Library buys new books they have to be added to YorSearch and given a shelf location. This process is called cataloguing. Books in this process will appear on YorSearch as 'Being catalogued'. To get a 'Being catalogued' item more quickly, place a request on it.


List of books and other materials which have been used to write a piece of work. Also knows as a reference list.


To make sure that you can use a group study room when you want to, you will need to place a booking on it. When you place a booking, you specify the date and time that you want to use the study room, and we reserve it for you.

Boolean logic

Boolean logic is a way of narrowing or expanding a database search by linking search terms with the connectors AND, OR and NOT.


A registered member of the Library.

Borthwick Institute for Archives

The Borthwick Institute's collection includes archives from around the world, from the 12th century to the present day. It is located in on the first floor of the Raymond Burton Library.

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See the definition of YorSearch.

Catalogue PCs

There are over 40 computers in the Library which you can use to search for items on YorSearch.


See the definition of Being catalogued.


CD stands for Compact Disc and ROM for Read Only Memory. CD-ROMs are discs for holding information. On the catalogue you may find some material which is available on a CD-ROM.


When you refer to another information source (eg book, journal) in your original piece of work (eg essay or thesis) it is called a citation, because you are citing the source of your information.

Citing and referencing

At the end of an assignment you must include a reference list (or bibliography) listing all the information sources (books, web pages etc) you have referred to (cited) in your writing. Your lecturer may ask you to use a particular style of citing and referencing, for example Harvard or Vancouver.


See the definition of Location.

Collaborative study

Open areas where groups can work together and where you may be able to move the furniture to suit your needs. For example, the study spaces on the first floor of the Harry Fairhurst Building.

Compact store

Two rooms where most of the Library's print journals are stored. Compact stores 1 & 2 are located on the ground floor of the JB Morrell Library. See the floor plan for Morrell Floor 0:

Conference paper

Conferences are gatherings of researchers and professionals within a certain field. During a conference, papers are presented that outline and discuss the latest research and advancements in the field. Conference papers are published in a variety of ways - they may be gathered together and published in a volume called a "conference proceeding", as a book, or as a special issue or supplement to a journal.

Conference proceeding

A collection of papers/articles which have been presented by speakers at a conference.


This has two different definitions in the Library:

  • A photocopy or print out from a printer, for example: "It costs 15p for an A4 colour copy".
  • Books, when we have more than one, for example: "We have 10 copies of that book".


This is legal protection given to any person who creates certain kinds of materials, including books, journal articles and computer programs. Copyright limits the amount of photocopying you can do, if any, from books and journals.


A piece of information which has been published recently.

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In a library context, a database is a electronic collection of information which you can search for journal articles or subject specific information. You can access all of the databases the University pays for via the E-resources Guide. Look at our Subject Guides to find out what databases to use for your subject.


A long piece of writing based on extended reading and some independent research at undergraduate level. A requirement of some degree programmes. See also the definition of thesis.


Digital Object Identifier. A DOI is a permanent identifier (for example, 10.1080/07294360050020499) which is linked to an electronic document, such as a journal article. If you know a document's DOI you can search for it online, even if you don't have other details such as the name of the journal or URL.

Due date

When you borrow a library item you only have the item for a limited period, for example for four weeks unless the item is requested. The date you must return or renew it by is called the due date. You can check the due dates of the items you have borrowed on your Library Account.

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Ebook/electronic book

An ebook is a book which is available in an electronic format, so you can read it online.


Published books sometimes need updating. This means a new version or edition of the book may be published. Some books have many editions. Your module reading list will recommended which edition you should use. You can view the editions of a book that we have by clicking on the "View x editions or versions" link on YorSearch.


In some cases this is a short piece of writing which expresses the opinion of the editor. In others it can be a summary and background to the contents of the journal.


Our wireless network is called eduroam. It allows anyone with an IT Services userrname and password to get Internet access in locations across campus. Once registered, your device will also connect to the eduroam wireless network in other universities which also use eduroam.

Ejournal/electronic journal/online journal

This is an electronic copy of a journal which is available to view online. Access is usually only available if the Library has purchased a subscription for the ejournal.


This is the electronic delivery of messages. You have a University of York Google email account. It is very important that you check this on a regular basis as the Library will email you when you need to return items you have on loan to the Library and when items you have requested are ready for collection.

EndNote/Endnote Web

EndNote/ Endnote Web is a piece of software designed to help you organise your references and assist you in citing and referencing.

Enquiry Desk

See definition of Help Desk.

E-resources/electronic resources

This is a collective term used to describe databases, ejournals, ebooks and websites. Find out what e-resources the Library takes, and gain access, by searching or browsing the E-resources Guide.

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Faculty Librarian

Each academic department has Faculty Librarians who can advise you on how to find the right material or how to use the most useful resources for your studies or research. Find out who your Faculty Librarian is from your Subject Guide.


A fine is an amount of money that a Library might ask you to pay if you are late to return your Library books. The University of York Library doesn't charge any fines.

Flexible loans

Most items borrowed from the Library have flexible loan periods. This means that the due date can change if someone else needs to read the item you have borrowed. We will email you to tell you when you need to return an item to the Library early because someone else needs it/has requested it. For more information see our Borrowing web pages.


If you find an item on YorSearch marked as 'folio' it means it is an oversized item and is shelved separately to the normal book collections. Please ask library staff if you need assistance to find a folio item.

Full text

You will see this term on YorSearch and on electronic databases. It means the complete text of an electronic journal article, book or thesis is available to read online. When you find an article you want to read, look out for a full text link or download the PDF in order to view the whole article.

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Group study room

A room where you can work together with other students as a group. Some group study rooms can be booked before you need to use them, so that you can plan ahead.

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Harry Fairhurst Building

One of the three buildings which form the main University Library located on Campus West. The Harry Fairhurst is where you will find study spaces, computers, and the research study and lounge.

Help Desk

Located on the ground floor of the JB Morrell Library and in the King's Manor Library, this is where you can ask for help using our services. See the floor plan for Morrell Floor 0


Hypertext Markup Language. Articles are often available to open as HTML files in databases. It will look like a web page when you read it.

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Impact factor

This relates to journals and measures the average number of times articles from a journal have been cited in other articles over a specific period of time. The measure can be used to compare different journals within a subject area, as a guide to a journal's influence. Academics may try to publish their research in a journal with a high impact factor.


You will find an index at the end of a text book. It is an alphabetical list telling you the detailed contents of the book and the relevant page numbers.

Information skills/information literacy

The ability to find, evaluate and use information effectively. If you want to improve your skills, contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.

In print

This refers to a paper copy (also known as a hard copy) which is available in the Library.

Interlending and Document Supply

If you need a book or journal that we don’t have in the Library we can try to get it for you from another library, as an interlibrary loan. You can make a request for an interlibrary loan through our Interlending service.


This has two different definitions in the Library:

  • To borrow Library items. When you borrow something you must issue it to your Library Account using our self-service machines.
  • Each individual copy of a journal is called an issue (or part). Issues can be published weekly, monthly or several times a year depending on the journal, and are often referred to by number. For example, in a monthly journal the January issue is issue number 1, the February issue is number 2, and so on.

IT Services username and password

All University staff and students are given an IT account, with an IT Services username and password. You use your IT Services username and password to use IT facilities, for example a computer in an IT study area, and also to access the Library's electronic resources.

IT Support

Information Technology help and support. If you have a question about using a computer, help is available from the IT Support. The Help Desk is located on the ground floor of the JB Morrell Library.

Item in place

If an item is shown as 'Item in place' on YorSearch it means it is on the library shelves for you to use.

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JB Morrell Library

One of the three buildings which form the main University Library located on Campus West. The JB Morrell is where you will find most of our book and printed journal collections.

John Barry Audiovisual collection

Located on the ground floor of the Harry Fairhurst Building, this is the room where the Library's DVDs, CDs, videos and tapes are located. See the floor plan for Fairhurst Floor 0:

John Paynter Music Library

Located on the ground floor of the Harry Fairhurst Building, this is the room where the Library's books, scores and journals on music are located. See the floor plan for Fairhurst Floor 0:


A journal (also known as a periodical) is a publication with a particular subject focus which is published regularly. Scholarly journals are where academics publish their research. Journals can be printed, or electronic and accessed online, or both.

Journal article

Journal articles are where academics (for example, your lecturer) publish their research. They are also known as research papers. An individual issue of a journal will contain several different articles written by lots of different authors. Journal articles are good to use for assignments as they are current and often peer-reviewed.

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These are words used to search YorSearch or databases to find information on a particular subject.

King's Manor Library

The University's King's Manor Library is located in the centre of York and is where you will find some of our collections (eg books on architecture, heritage management) and important collections of slides and photographs.

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Liaison Librarian

See the definition of Academic Liaison Librarian.


Our online help and support system. Use LibAnswers to contact us for help, advice and information. Search LibAnswers to find an answer to a question you may have about Library services.

Library account

All students and staff have an online library account, known as My Library Account. This provides a summary of the books, requests and fines you have in your name. You can use your Library Account to extend the time you can keep a library item for; this is called renewing. You can access your Library Account via YorSearch, our Library catalogue. Use your IT Services username and password to log in to your account.

Library catalogue

See the definition of YorSearch.

Library induction

A process designed to introduce you to all the services, resources and people who can help you use the Library.

Library number

This is the number on the back of your University Card, also your Library Card, which you will need to know if you request an item and come to the Library to collect it.

Literature review

This is a process you will have to go through at the start of your research: a search and analysis of the available literature (usually academic writing) on your chosen topic.


When you borrow an item from the Library it is 'on loan' to you. Your Library Account shows you your current 'loans' which are the items you are currently borrowing from the Library.

Loan period

This is the length of time you can borrow a book.


Books in the Library are organised according to a letter and number system, we call this a subject classification system. This enables the Library to place books on the same subject together on the shelves (eg G 1.1 for industrial relations books). A label on each book shows its location. When you find a book you want to use on YorSearch, make a note of the location (also known as the classmark) so you can find it on the library shelves.

Lost item charge

It is important that you look after the items you have borrowed from the Library. If you don't and you lose a book and cannot return it to the Library we will ask you to pay a lost item charge, a charge for losing the item.

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Our printers are called MFDs or multifunction devices because they can print, photocopy and scan. Some MFDs can print in colour, others just in black and white.


Microfiche are like microfilms but are flat sheets instead of reels of film.


These are reels which contain reproductions of documents which need to be read with special microfilm readers.


A monograph is a book by a single author which focuses on their own research. A monograph is longer than a journal article and is different from a text book which looks at lots of different research and viewpoints on a particular subject.

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This means it is available electronically on the Internet.

Open Access

An open access journal article is one which is freely available online to anyone. The Library does not have to pay for open access articles.


If you don't renew or return an item you have borrowed by its due date, the item becomes overdue. If an item is requested by someone else and is overdue you will be asked to pay a fine.

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Paper copy

A term used to refer to a printed copy of a journal article rather than an electronic version.


See the definition of IT Services username and password.


Portable Document Format. This is a type of computer file which can secure pictures etc. within it. Journal articles are often available to save as a PDF file in databases.


A process where subject experts evaluate the quality of research undertaken before an article is approved for publication. You should use peer-reviewed (also referred to as "refereed" or "scholarly") articles in your assignments/research as they have been approved by scholars in your field for quality and importance.


This is a term used to describe a journal.


Phishing is the use of fake email messages that claim to be from an institution or company that you may trust (eg universities or banks) in an attempt to steal personal information from you (eg passwords, credit card numbers). The University and the IT Support Office will never ask you for your password via email. You should not respond to this kind of message and should delete the email.


Plagiarism is when a student copies someone else's work and takes credit for it as their own idea without acknowledging the source.

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These are oversize books which are too big to fit on a standard size shelf. On the first and second floor of the JB Morrell Library quarto books are shelved at the end of the ordinary size books in each subject. On the third floor of the JB Morrell Library, quarto science books are shelved together. See the floor plan for Morrell Floor 3 to find out the location of the science quartos:

Quiet zone

There are certain areas in the Library where you will see a sign saying Quiet zone. You must minimise the noise you make in these areas. You cannot work in a group or talk constantly/loudly in these areas.

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Raymond Burton Library for Humanities Research

One of the three buildings which form the main University Library located on Campus West. The Raymond Burton is where you will find some of our Special Collections, and both quiet and silent study areas.


If someone else requests an item that you have on loan, we will recall that item. We will ask you to return the item to the Library before the due due so that someone else, the person requesting the item, can have it. Remember to check your University Google Mail account regularly as this is how we will let you know that an item is recalled and you need to return it to the Library.


This word is used to refer to an entry on YorSearch, for example, to find the details of a book.


The details of an information source you have used for an academic assignment. Most assignments require you to include a reference list or bibliography at the end of your work listing all the information sources you have referred to in your writing. See also the definition of citing and referencing.


If you want to extend the amount of time you can keep a book you will need to renew it using YorSearch it. The Library will send you an email to remind you to do this.


A mechanism for managing and storing content or information.


If you want a book and all the copies are out on loan you will need to place a request on the book to get it. Make sure there are no other copies of the item showing as available "Item in place" before you try to reserve it.

Research study and lounge

The research study and lounge is an area on the second floor of the Harry Fairhurst building for postgraduates and visiting academics to study in or relax.

Return point

This is the place where you return your borrowed books in the Library.

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Self-service issue and return

We have self-service issue and return machines so you can borrow and return library books yourself using your University/Library card.

Silent zone

There are certain areas in the Library where you will see a sign saying Silent zone. You must not make any noise in these areas.

Special Collections

Another name for Rare books and archives. These materials need special care and some items will only be available under supervised access.


See the definition of Compact store.

Studious Buzz zone

There are certain areas in the Library where you will see a sign saying Studious Buzz zone. You can work in groups in these areas and talk quietly.

Subject classification

See the definition of Location.

Subject Librarian

See the definition of Academic Liaison Librarian.

Systematic review

A systematic review is a literature review focused on a defined research question that tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomised controlled trials are crucial to evidence-based medicine.

For more information see the Systematic Reviews: A Practical Guide which lists systematic review resources and guidance.

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A thesis is a long piece of personal research written by a candidate for a postgraduate university degree. You can find electronic full text copies of some recent Masters theses on the York Digital Library, or PhD theses on White Rose Etheses Online.

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University Card

Your University Card is also your Library card. Always bring it with you, as you'll need it to borrow items and enter the Library.


Uniform Resource Locator. It is the address for a web page on the Internet (eg

Use in library only

Items with a sticker labelled ‘Use in Library Only’ can not be borrowed from the Library. You can read them in the Library or photocopy or scan from them.

Username and password

See the definition of IT Services username and password.

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Journals are published in individual copies called issues. Several issues are grouped together to make a volume. Journals usually publish one volume per year which is made up of several different issues.

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White Rose Research Online (WRRO)

WRRO is the University of York, Leeds and Sheffield's shared online research repository. Here you can find a range of open access research materials produced by academics at one of the three universities, including conference papers and journal articles. PhD theses are held on White Rose Etheses Online.

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York Minster Library

York Minster Library is the largest cathedral library in the country. University of York staff and students can use and borrow items from the Minster Library.

York Print Plus

The University’s printing, copying and scanning service for students and staff, run by IT Services, is called York Print Plus.


The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) where you find your modules and reading lists online.


YorSearch is the name for our Library catalogue. The Library catalogue is an electronic list of all our library items including books, journals, theses, DVDs, electronic books and electronic journals. You can use the Library catalogue to search for library items and it will tell you:

  • which library or libraries have an item in stock
  • if an item is available to borrow
  • the item's location, which tells you where to find it on the shelf
  • useful details about the book, eg the edition.

With acknowledgement and thanks to Kirsty Carver, Sophie North and the Library International Group at the University of Bradford, who prepared the original Library Language glossary and have permitted re-use by the University of York.