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Library Basics

Library Terms

Abstract: A concise summary of the major points in a journal article or book.

Academic Article: A brief, up-to-date publication on scholarly information. Academic articles are published in academic journals and are often peer-reviewed (see peer-review below).

Academic Journal: A scholarly publication containing articles that is published regularly.

Annotated Bibliography: A list of citations accompanied by summaries and evaluation of the sources.


Bibliography: A list of sources used for research.

Boolean Search: Use the Boolean words AND, OR, and NOT to connect your search words in order to narrow or broaden a search online.


Call Number: A group of letters and numbers found on the side of books used to organize and locate them in the library. Call numbers are the “address” of where a book can be located.

Catalog: The library online catalog provides a list of all the items our library owns.

Citation: A quotation from a book or journal article that lists reference information such as author, title, and journal.

Circulation Desk / Info Desk: Located in the front of the library, the circulation desk is the location where you can check out or renew books, check out reserves, get information about the library or ask questions about research or library policies.

Copyright: Copyright laws protect information from being copied or reproduced without permission. 

Course Reserves: Located behind the information desk, course reserves are textbooks that can be checked out and used only in the library.


Database: A digital collection of information that is used to search for scholarly information. The Houff library subscribes to many different types of academic databases. 


eBook: An electronic book is a fully available and accessible to read on the internet. 

Encyclopedia: A reference source that contains a brief overview of many topics. Encyclopedias are often a good place to start your research.


Full Text: You can access the entire text of an article or an eBook online through our databases or catalog. You can also limit your database search to full text articles only.


Holds: If the library item you want is already checked out to another patron, you can request that a hold be put on the item for you. When the item is returned, you will be notified when it is available.


Interlibrary Loan: A service the library provides for Blue Ridge faculty, staff, and students. If there is a book or article that the Houff library does not have, you can request to borrow the item from another library through interlibrary loan. You can fill out a loan request and give it to someone at the information desk.


Keywords: The most important words used in a database search. 


Library of Congress Classification System: The classification used in academic libraries to order books on the shelf. The Library of Congress call number on a book is the books address within the library. 

LinkIt: When searching databases, you may see a LinkIt button on certain articles which indicates that it is available via another database.


Peer-Review: A process by which a scholarly work (such as an article) is checked by a group of experts in the same field or subject area to make sure that it meets the necessary standards before it is published.

Periodical: A magazine or journal that is published at regular intervals.

Plagiarism: Taking someone else's work or ideas and presenting them as your own original work.

Primary Source: Firsthand accounts of an event, such as an autobiography, diary, or artifact. 


Reference: Located across from the information desk, the reference section contains encyclopedias and dictionaries and is a good place to begin your research as you gather background information. 

Renewal: You can contact the information desk to extend the due date on your library items checked out.

Reserves: Located behind the information desk, the reserve section has course textbooks that can be checked out for in-library use only. 


Stacks: The main circulating collection in the library. Items can be checked out for four weeks.