An acronym that stands for Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, Edition 2. This was the precursor to RDA, Resource Description and Access.


A short and concise description of a book, chapter, or article. If the item being described is stand-alone, the abstract will describe the academic qualifications of the work's creator.

Academic Library

A library that serves the changing educational needs of its parent institution. These libraries also serve similar functions as school libraries to students of the institution, but their offerings for these clients are also generally more academically inclined.


The quality of library resources and programs being available to people of all abilities and backgrounds. This means making reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and neurodivergent individuals. Everyone should be treated equitably. Librarians should not assume that an apparent disadvantage precludes someone from taking advantage of a resource or program.


Properties, qualities, or elements of a space that affect how sound is manipulated and transmitted. These features may also effect how sound is perceived by inhabitants of that space.


The process of accepting an item submitted for intake to the library. This process is performed selectively. Its purpose is to select only those materials that serve the needs of the primary service population or demographic. Items that do not perform this function will not be acquisitioned. They will be recommended to another library or returned to the potential donor or vendor.


Properties of beauty and artistic taste that make a space or an item pleasing.

Americans with Disabilities Act

An act that was passed in 1990 requiring accommodations for increased access and opportunities for people who have disabilities.


Subjects, groups, ideologies, and other factors that influence a work or author. The associations of creators and works should always be considered when considering acquisitioning or weeding.


This is an appellation designated for those works that are known to be authentic and accurate because of their associations or those of their authors. Authoritative works are often the gold standard, or close to the gold standard, for research in their respective fields.

Banned Books

These are works that have been challenged in book repositories of various sorts over the years. These challenges were successful and the books removed from circulation for a time.


A list of works that are all unified together in some way. They may be on the same subject, or they may be all used as references for another work. Or, they may have been created by the same author or publisher. The unifying factor is usually made plain in the bibliography's title or description.

Book List

A compiled list of books in a particular topic that are recommended by a person or group for acquisition or reading. Libraries can make this for their patrons or for others libraries. When possible, book lists should be consulted for the best books in certain subject areas.

Book Review

An academic review of a book that is under consideration for acquisition. Numerous book review sources exist for fiction and nonfiction books. These are relatively reliable but should not be completely taken at face value. Motivation, association, and background of the review author or source should always be considered.

Book Vendor

An intermediary between publishers, clearinghouses, and libraries. Jobbers buy books and sell them to librarians. Some vendors, also called jobbers, utilize a subscription service and send books to libraries regularly. This eliminates some of the need for careful acquisition work. Book vendors may be thought of as surrogate acquisition librarians.

Call Number

A number assigned to each item in the library that describes the precise physical and relational location of a book through association. In a less library-jargon way, it describes the location of a book in the order of all of the books.


The process whereby items are put into specific categories according to predetermined schemata. Librarians participate in two main types of cataloging: original cataloging and copy cataloging. The ratio of original to copy cataloging is affected by the type of library in which one works and the types of items submitted for acquisition.


This is the removal of data or information from an item or manifestation that is deemed offensive, grossly inaccurate, or inappropriate for a particular physical context or audience. It is often referred to in the same breath as "challenges" and "banning books." This is another concept that is debated in the context of modern ethics. Censorship is performed by people of many different backgrounds, social statuses, and political ideologies. Censorship of any kind can appear problematic or justifiable when viewed in a certain way. However, it is essential that a librarian should condemn all forms of censorship.


A formal objection to an item in a library's holdings. Challenges can originate for a variety of reasons, but they should all be submitted the same way. Each library or library system will have its own challenge form that must be filled out. Challenges are sent to a board of directors or a committee assigned by them to review the merits of the challenge.


An Artificial Intelligence tool created by OpenAI. ChatGPT is an advanced language model that uses syntax and context to provide responses to user queries and prompts.


Circulating materials are available to be check out. They circulate form patrons to the library to other patrons and on and on and on, 'til the night is gone.


The segment of a library's processes that is involved with checking out and checking in items as well as public relations matters, including patron interactions, related with these processes. They also collect data from these processes and use it to make recommendations to library administration regarding holdings, acquisition, and weeding.

Circulation Policy

The policy that determines how long a patron can have an item, how long an item can remain in the library holdings without being checked out, and policies regarding financial or access restrictions toward problematic patrons. Fines, fees, and reservation and holdings policies are also incorporated into this policy. For this reason, this policy is occasionally called the "Public Services Policy."

Circulation Reference

Reference materials are those items that cannot be checked out and are only available for patron use inside the physical confines of the library.


The act of sorting items, whether they be books, ebooks, audiobooks, audiovisual materials, or other formats, into categories based on particular criteria. Librarians do not do this. Librarians catalog based on predetermined classification categories prescribed by a particular schema, such as the Dewey Decimal System and/or the Library of Congress Classification System.

Collection Development Policy

The policies and procedures used by a library to justify decisions made regarding the creation and maintenance of collections. This policy includes how to acquisition items and how to weed them. Some policies also discuss procedures for transferring items from one collection to another and responding to challenges by patrons.

Collection Shifting

Moving items from one shelf to another as a collection grows, shrinks, or is moved elsewhere in the library's physical space.


This term stands for the rights to a work and its associated expressions, manifestations, and derivation, which are almost always held by the work's creator. Copying a resource is only one action covered, and prohibited, by traditional, all-rights-reserved copyright licenses. Adaptations and derivations are also prohibited without the creator's consent.

Creative Commons

An initiative to provide alternatives to the previous binary of All Rights Reserved Copyright and Public Domain copyright-less items. The open licenses supported by this initiative allow authors to specify requirements for attribution, non-commercial use, and/or duplication rights.


These are tangible or verifiable records or facts that prove that a creator has sufficient knowledge to create a work on a particular subject. Credentials may also testify as to the person's abilities.


The first symbols recorded on a movable record. This system of writing was invented by the Sumerians around 3200 B.C.E. Scribes wrote these symbols into stone walls or clay tablets.

Customer Service

The services and functions rendered to a customer, or a patron, while they are in the library and out of it. The same level of service should be given to all patrons and potential patrons, regardless of religion, ethnicity, political ideology, economic situation, or any other factor barring hateful and violent beliefs and practices.


Quantitative and qualitative representations of current understandings of reality. These representations can be interpreted to produce information that is presented in multiple formats. Data are the most fundamental sources of scientific knowledge. Most data, in fact, is scientific. However, some information is not created through data.


A collection of datasets or points that can be searched to provide the most relevant data. Database searching involves knowledge of Boolean words, keywords, limiters, and other aspects of database navigation. Entire courses are formed around database management, navigation, and utilization. Librarians should know how to effectively use database tools in general. Adaptations may be required to fit the parameters of specific databases, but the general rules regarding tool use are typically the same for all databases.


The illumination of indoor spaces using primarily natural light. When this cannot be done, lights in an enclosed space should mimic daylight as much as possible.


Physical, ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and other factors that describe a group of people in a given geographic area or who have another common denominator. All of these factors and more should be considered when making decisions about library policy, collections development, deacquisitioning, and other functions of the library.

Dewey Decimal Classification System

A system created by Melvil Dewey in the late nineteenth century to classify all knowledge into ten broad categories. This system has been modified twenty three times until the current iteration, Dewey Decimal System Edition 23, was created in early 2010s. It is often used on its own and in conjunction with the Library of Congress Classification System.

Digital Divide

The gap in knowledge and ability between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives.

Digital Holdings/Electronic Resources

Digital holdings or "electronic resources" are the digitally-accessed items in a library's holdings. Typically the term electronic resources only refers to digital items, not items that require electronic tools to access the information (cassettes, DVDs, etc.). This term is restricted to only those things held in the library's holdings itself and does not extend to database access or digital libraries that are not maintained by the library (subscription libraries, external databases, online encyclopedias).

Digital Immigrants

People who lived before the Digital Age or who have not lived in a society that has not had contact with modern digital technology.

Digital Initiatives

Items, programs, services, and presentations developed by the library that are primarily or completely hosted by the Internet. Examples include database access, podcasts, and access to ebooks. Audiobooks and cassettes are not included in this distinction. The term digital refers to the internet, not to all electronics.

Digital Natives

Individuals born just before, during, or after the Digital Age began. These individuals have grown up with digital technology and have an almost innate sense of how to manipulate and use it.

Discovery System

An aspect of the modern OPAC, sometimes regarded, as an external add-on, that allows patrons to search information sources outside of the library. For example, a Discovery Service can help patrons find items in databases or other libraries or repositories.


Items that are not created to last such as long time. Examples of ephemera include buttons, pamphlets, brochures, tourist maps, handouts for parties, etc.


This is the idea that every individual has a unique set of values and ideas that influence and govern their thoughts and actions. Some believe that there is an ideal code of ethics. Others claim that every person should have their own unique ethics and not conform to others' ideas. Shared ethics are the cornerstone of successful groups and organizations. They are one of the foundations of good interpersonal communication and relationships. Librarians should act ethically according to the ALA Code of Ethics, not according to their own personal ethics ideologies.

Fair Use Doctrine

This is a principle of copyright adherence that came into being because of educational need. Educators and students can use a certain percentage of copyrighted works for educational purposes without consulting the copyright holder. This use, however, still has stipulations. The materials that incorporate copyrighted materials cannot be duplicated or redistributed. Additionally, only a portion of a work can be copied. For most books, including reference and fiction books, the percentage of a work that can be used under the Fair Use Doctrine is 25 percent. Musical works, including recordings and sheet music, can only be copied up to ten percent. Publishers and copyright holders are the ones who determine what is and is not fair use, so one should be careful not to flagrantly abuse this doctrine.


Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. This is the theoretical framework that governs the presence, order, format, and other aspects of metadata contained in all records maintained by the library.

Free Access

This is access that has been provided free of charge by a publisher or author. While free access may seem to be the same as open access, there are a few key differences. Firstly, free access may only be for a limited time. Publishers can reinstitute paywalls or other access prohibitors to block access. Free access could be provided in a proprietary format.

Gutenberg Bible

One of the first books printed by Johannes Gutenberg on a printing press in the 1450s. This was proof that information and data was spreadable to people by other means than handwriting. The proliferation of this Bible was made even more significant by the fact that the type blocks used to create the Bible were mass-produced. After the creation of this Bible, many printed books followed.


This acronym stands for Integrated Library System, also called a Library Management System. It includes OPAC, Discovery Service, holdings and circulation data, and patron-facing service software all in one package. Thus, all or most aspects of a library's inner workings are integrated together.


Information comes from two sources:

Interpretations of qualitative and quantitative data that has been collected and recorded (scientific publications, academic journal articles, corporate and other reports)
Objective and subjective inferences, narratives, and representations of ideas created by people who have recorded these items in one format or another (religious texts, fiction, ethical and moral works, etc.)

Information Literacy

The ability of an individual to find, view, interpret, and accurately portray information from various sources. One of the core jobs of librarians is to help their patrons develop these skills. Information literacy takes similar but different form at each  type of library.

Intellectual Freedom

The freedom of an individual to think, believe, act, and spread their beliefs and thoughts as they desire. The only exception to this rule is ideas that deliberately cause harm to others. No one has a right to impose their ideas, ideologies, or beliefs on someone else. Parents have a right to introduce their children to their own worldviews and beliefs first, but they should also teach their children that others can have different values and belief systems. Religious groups, political institutions, and corporations should never exert force or undue influence on a person to believe a certain way. At the same time, individuals who believe a certain way should not be told that they have been manipulated or deceived by others. They have a right to believe and express those beliefs.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is a broad term to cover the ideas, works, expressions, manifestations, and items that are the product of a creator or group of creators. If one person creates a work and claims it as their intellectual property, others cannot reuse that work without the creator's permission. This is the basis for all copyright claims. The concept of intellectual property has been a subject of debate for decades. There are various innovative ways to deal with the concept of intellectual property in the fields of education and library science, including the concepts of open source creations and open access data and information.


The quality of a program that encourages patron participation instead of passive attendance. The most engaging and educational programs are interactive. Librarians should make every effort to make items, lessons, programs, and other initiatives as interactive as possible, even if they are centered on a topic that seems droll or uninteresting.

InterLibrary Loan

A service provided by the combination of WorldCat and Connexion. If an item is not available at one library, they can request that a copy of the same manifestation be sent from another library. Preferably, requests are made to the nearest geographic library. However, requests can be made from far away if necessary. Both physical items and surrogate digitizations of items can be exchanged through InterLibrary Loan. Other consortia provide interlibrary loan options, but their reach is not as broad. Public school library systems and country and regional public library networks often have a specialized form of interlibrary loan.


International Standard Book Number. This number is not the same as the call number and was created for a different purpose: commercial sales and proliferation data tracking. Publishers give each edition of a book a number. All items in a particular manifestation are given the same ISBN, and sometimes multiple manifestations are given the same ISBN.


International Standard Serial Number. This number is derived from the practice of using ISBNs for books. Every serial has its own ISSN, partly to distinguish from serials that have the same name or a similar name. Changing the name of a serial in a significant way will result in another ISSN being created, but there can be metadata notes to connect the two names.


Information that has been internalized by a user of an item. This information can be referred to by that person in future times of need. Knowledge can change or even be completely removed as a person learns new information and turns it into knowledge. Knowledge is fluid.


This word has two meanings:

A dictionary
A collection of vocabulary words and phrases that are important to a specific group of people. Words in this collection are often referred to colloquially as "jargon" or "lingo."

The glossary of this book follows the second definition. Many of these words have definitions that are unique to the world of librarianship (for example, MARC). Other definitions are similar to external definitions (for example, customer service).

Library of Congress Classification System

A system created by the Library of Congress to classify all information resources within its holdings. All items are classified in a broad category under each letter of the alphabet. Further letters and numbers create increasingly specific categories until the most appropriate category for each item is found. Unlike the Dewey Decimal System, which categorizes items by subject, the LCC classifies items by the discipline in which they can be used.


Areas of a library that are designated as spaces for patrons to make something and explore their creative impulses. Examples of common makerspaces include Computer Labs, 3-D Printing Machines, Arts and Crafts areas, and Virtual Reality programming programs.

MARC Record

MAchine-Readable Catalog Record. This is the standard format for all item descriptions in a library's holdings. the vast majority of libraries use this system. Even those libraries that do not use MARC have adapted their systems from this type of record.


A specific subset of data that describes and gives information about the other data in a record. One may think of it like a MARC record about the MARC record. "Meta" refers to something that is self-referential. A data record often contains its own metadata within itself.

Mission Statement

A statement created by an organization or group that outlines its broad purpose. All activities and initiatives created, supported, and conducted by this organization should connect in at least one way with their mission statement. This can be revised if necessary, and should be revised periodically.


The organization that maintains many of the gold-standard online services used by librarians. They are based in Ohio and have plenteous sources on the Dewey Decimal System and MARC Records. They also maintain the WorldCat library consortium.


Online Public Access Catalog. This is what most people think of when they refer to a catalog. It has been the standard catalog format since the late twentieth century. It has been modified from its original form with links to outside sources of information, integration with other services, and different formats. One adaptation of the OPAC is called the Discovery Service. These two services are often bundled together with other services to form an ILS.

Open Access

The state of an item that can be freely accessed, reused, and redistributed but not repurposed into another format or published by a different author. These items can be referenced to but not incorporated into an open educational material. The only exception to these restriction is if the publisher allows reproduction and repurposing. Open access materials are complementary to open educational resources and public domain materials, but they are under more restrictions than those items.

Open Educational Resources

The acronym for this term is OER. These are educational materials that are freely available and adaptable and have been given an open license. This means that the creator has released most or all of the rights to a resource. The "Five Rs of OER," as promulgated by instructional designer David Wiley, are Revise, Retain, Remix, Redistribute, and Reuse.

Optic fiber

A particular kind of wiring through which data can be transmitted to a computer as a stream of light. This enables library users and staff to utilize fast Internet connections for access to data and information.


Contextualizing groups of things or ideas in a way that will make sense to those who are looking for particular items in that group. The most effective organization process involves classification of items into groups based on predetermined schemata.


This encompasses all activities performed in the library that are intended to increase attendance at library functions and expand circulation of library materials. In fact, library functions are themselves part of the outreach spectrum. There is an outreach aspect to almost everything librarians do.


This is the first material on which words or ideas were written. It was invented around the 2900 BCE in Egypt. From there, its use spread to Ancient Greece and other kingdoms. It was the dominant medium for writing until paper was invented in China around three and a half thousand years later.

Patron Services

All services that face people who come into the library for any purpose. All individuals are patrons, regardless of whether or not they check out an item. Patron services include circulation, programming,  and outreach functions.

Patron-Centered Service

The facet of library services that ensures they are performed and prioritized with patron expectations and needs in mind. The mission statement and policies of the library ideally codify the concept of patron-centered service.

Peer Review

The process in which several experts in a particular field review a work by one of their colleagues to ensure that its facts are legitimate and its interpretation seems acceptable. This is a requirement in all reputable journals for articles submitted for publication. Books, especially academic ones, may also be peer reviewed.


The act of taking deliberate steps to preserve an item. In the context of librarianship, preservation of an object is done to preserve, recover, restore, or perpetuate the information or data contained in the object. Preservation is not done for the sake of the item itself. If an item is fragile, or if the library has means, digital preservation should always be considered in one form or another. Even non-fragile items can be preserved if time, space, and other factors permit.


The right of all individuals to have their private information and data kept secure from external viewing and tampering. Initially, this was perceived to be universal and sacrosanct. Gradually, as people have become more open about their lives through social media, popularity, and public participation in various ways, the concept of privacy has changed and can be fluid or completely ignored. A large part of ethics deals with privacy and the use of private information.

Public Domain

The status of an object that has no copyright restrictions whatsoever. Each country has its own laws and policies regarding which works are considered to be in the public domain. There are two ways that an item can be in the public domain: time passage and creator identification of an item as belonging to the public domain. This is essentially the same as a Creative Commons 0 License.

Public Library

A library that serves all residents and/or citizens of a particular area at every stage of their life. The only requirement is that one must live in a particular area. Sometimes, even this requirement is waived.


This acronym stands for Resource Description and Access. The successor to ACCR2, this schema provides the correct and precise methods and standardized entries for several MARC fields, including fields 336, 337, and 338.

Reader's Advisory

A term for when a librarian takes extra time and resources to find a book for a particular patron. This may include taking advantage of other staff members or even an inter-institutional network of librarians. Facebook librarian groups such as the Librarian Think Tank are excellent places to conduct Reader's Advisory.


This is the formatted collection of metadata regarding an item. Occasionally, especially in terms of digital collections or archives, the record of an item is called a "surrogate" or "surrogate record."


The action of retrieving and/or providing access to information for a patron. This is sometimes stereotypically considered the only function of a librarian. Although we are good at it, it is only part of what we do. Still, retrieval of relevant information is a vital part of a librarian's responsibilities. Reference is the first part of a Reference Interview, the end goal of which is to enable a patron to retrieve relevant information for themselves in the future.

Reference Interview

An interaction between a librarian and a patron in which the librarian attempts to help the patron find new information. There are two goals of a reference interview:

To give a patron an immediate source of information or data
To help a patron develop research skills to find further information on their own


This designation is used for books that are withheld from public browsing for one reason or another. These books may be freely accessed but can only be retrieved by a librarian and given to the patron. These books are under the same use and travel restrictions as reference materials.

Resilient flooring

Non-textile floor that provides underfoot comfort and bounces back from repeated traffic.


Radio Frequency Identification Tags. These tags are often placed into every item a library receives. Each item has a unique RFID, even if it is a duplicate copy. RFID tags help libraries track circulation data and the presence or absence of items that should have been checked in.


A theoretical system that influences how one thinks about a certain topic. Typically this involves some sort of ideological hierarchy. Included in this hierarchy are ideal forms of concepts or things. For example, every individual has a basic, ideal version in their head of what a restaurant should look like and how the different functions and individuals should interact with each other. In librarianship, FRBR and RDA affect how cataloging is performed.

School Library

A library whose primary purpose is to help students learn about topics. Depending on the emphases of the school, the range of these topics may be broad or narrow.


A publication that is released, or published, at regular or intermittent intervals rather than all at once. Examples of serials include newspapers, magazines, newsletters, academic journals, and booklists. Serials are also occasionally called periodicals, although this term typically only refers to newspapers and magazines.


Originally: A list of all books held within a library, arranged by what order they go on the shelf. Originally this existed as a physical copy in the library, and then it transitioned to a digital list. Today, the shelflist is mostly a theoretical list that is not actually maintained.

Modern: a list of catalog records arranged by their order in the library's shelves. This is mostly used when looking for works that are related to each other. For example, if one would want to find analyses of Williams Shakespeare's Macbeth, one could look in a shelflist of records around a copy of that work. Analyses are typically cataloged nearby to the work they examine.


Graphic designs and other visual aids used to given directions or instructions. Occasionally, these images will accompany text.

Special Library

A library that only or mostly provides materials dealing with a specialized subject or range of subjects. In modern times, a special library may hold materials in a wide range of subjects but may be specialized in its holdings format or method of service. A special library exists purely to facilitate research or activities of a clientele that is homogenous in one way or another.

Subscription Library

A library whose access extends only to those who pay a subscription fee. Under certain circumstances, members can extend their membership to other interested parties for a limited time or to a limited scope of materials. This type of library is similar to a database whose data can only be accessed by paying individuals or institutions.

Technical Services

The behind-the-scenes processes that are involved in keeping a library operational. The largest aspect of technical services is cataloging, but acquisitions and collections development are also major functions under the umbrella of Technical Services.


Uniform Resource Identifier. In the context of digital items, a URI is a string of characters that belongs to an item and serves as its digital, machine-readable identifier. URIs are increasingly being used for real-world objects and items as well, in addition to works, expressions, and manifestations. URIs that refer to real-world objects are called Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs). Every URI is an IRI. Also, every URL is a URI. A URL, as you know, points to a specific web page or website with increasing specificity as you go through the site hierarchy. A URI cannot be used for more than one item, and hierarchies of URIs can be used to demonstrate relationships in the FRBR schema and other schemata.

Virtual Reference

A reference experience that is facilitated via the internet, cell phone communication, or any other method of interaction other than face-to-face or regular mail correspondence. This is a hallmark of the integration of libraries into the modern world.


The process of selecting items and works that should be removed from a library's collections or holdings. This is as much a part of collections development as acquisitions.

Wide Area Network

A network that has been deliberately configured to facilitate internet access over a large geographic area.


The site maintained by OCLC that provides libraries and their patrons with relevant information about works and items, including whereabout at near libraries. This is connected to the Connexion service which is also provided by OCLC. WorldCat is used by OCLC to maintain a massive consortium that stretches across state and national boundaries.


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Introduction to Library and Information Science Copyright © 2023 by College of Southern Idaho is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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