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How to Talk Like a Librarian: Library Lingo Glossary

Library Lingo



In database searching, adjacency is the position and distance between words in the same search command.   Proximity operators are used to define the adjacency between words.  With adjacency one can stipulate how far apart words are from one another and on which side of each other. See also: phrase searching.

Archive (digital archive)

Storage, management, preservation of materials in digital form


An interface feature that transfers saved data to an entry field. In our world, this feature is often used to insert bibliographic information into a WeDeliver! request form.

Bibliographic Index

A bibliographic index is a professionally indexed database consisting of bibliographic records that hold the metadata about the item indexed, e.g. author, title, keywords, subject.  

Some bibliographic indexes have some full text attached to the bibliographic record and/or link the bibliographic record to a full text archive also in the the library collection.

Bibliography A list of sources used in researching a topic.
Boolean Operator Boolean Operators are simple words (AND, OR, NOT or AND NOT) used to combine or exclude keywords in a search, resulting in more productive, focused, and useful results. This should save a great deal of time and effort by eliminating inappropriate hits that must be reviewed before discarding.
Citation A citation is a reference to a specific source, published or unpublished, that substantiates claims made in your work. Used to give credit when you use ideas/words of others

An organized collection of information.  A bibliographic index is a specialized kind of database.

Discovery Tool

Discovery is the process of locating and accessing resources on a specific topic.  Discovery tools are the interfaces that index and  manage the search and retrieval processes. A bibliographic index is a specialized kind of discovery tool.

ETD Electronic Theses and Dissertations - Database of Master's and Doctoral Theses from participating OhioLINK member schools.

"Expanders let you broaden the scope of your search. They do this by widening your search to include words related to your keywords or including the actual text of the full text results in your search."
 See Page in EBSCO Support

False Drop
False Text
In database searching, a result that meets all your search criteria, but is not that for which you are looking !
Full Text

A bibliographic index contains the metadata about an item. Full text is the item itself —  the complete text of articles, books, chapters, magazines, etc.

Guide (in Libguides) in LibGuides, a guide is essentially a mini-website, with boxes and tabs (called 'pages'). We use guides for broad general topics, to specific questions, to your personal page. To make things easy, think of them as 'webpages.' We do.
Grey Literature

Grey literature (or gray literature) is ephemeral material that is not usually peer reviewed but might have authority. Typical grey literature genres include conference proceedings and reports. 21st century definitions of grey literature might also include academic discussion blogs and other online venues.

Institutional Repository

An online archive of scholarly materials generated within an academic institution, for the purpose of making this work available in open access. 

An example of this in our world is AURA, where we make program dissertations available. 

ISSN Number An 8-digit code used to identify newspapers, journals, magazines and periodicals of all kinds and on all media–print and electronic (source)
Licensed Resource A licensed electronic resource is an online database to which the University Libraries subscribe through a contractual, legal agreement. 

Metadata is data about other data. In the library world, an example of metadata is the bibliographic citation (author, title, etc), abstract, keywords, and so on for a specific journal article.

Understanding the metadata structure of a bibliographic index helps you search it.


A targeted single written book or essay on a single subject - often used to present original scholarship.


Multi-Strategy Search A multi-strategy search is just that - Asking your question in several places, in multiple ways, allowing you to weave together a tight net of citations without holes.
OCLC a global library cooperative that provides shared technology services, original research and community programs for its membership and the library community at large.
Open Access

“Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”

Open Access. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from

Peer Review Evaluation of a work or performance by experts in the same field. Used to ensure quality, accuracy and rigor before publication (often referred to as ‘refereed')

A publication that is issued regularly, but less frequently than daily. It often includes the most current information in a field. For our purposes, a journal is the best example of a periodical. Periodicals include scholarly and practitioner journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, peer-reviewed journals, most bibliographic indexes - in print or electronic - including current and discontinued serials. 


A platform is essentially a proprietary user interface — in our world, for the purpose of finding resources. Examples of major platforms are ProQuest and EbscoHost. These platforms have their own navigation rules and search fields. As an example, a database such as Psycinfo can live on different platforms.

We provide information within Libguides on how to optimize your searches on each platform.

Proximity a search syntax term. Allows you to search by phrase or with two or more words in relation to one another. The syntax is specific to the search engine the database is running. See: Adjacency

Evaluation of a work or performance by experts in the same field. Used to ensure quality, accuracy and rigor before publication (often referred to as ‘peer-reviewed')


"RefWorks is a powerful online research management, writing and collaboration tool designed to help researchers at all levels easily gather, organize, store and share all types of information and to instantly generate citations and bibliographies." 

 Introduction to RefWorks

Search Platform

A database hosts and manages different sources and types of information.  A platform is the interface used by the enterprise providing the database.  For example, EBSCO is a database provider that hosts many different databases — using the same platform. 


A search term. Truncation provides a way to search for all forms of a word. A truncation symbol before a prefix or root word says, "let the word begin this way, I don't care how it ends."  Do be wary of unintended words which may be pulled that way.  It is often used to include singular and plural forms of the word.  In English language searching the wildcard can pull both British and English spellings of a word


A symbol substituted for a letter of a word in a search; used when a word might be spelled differently but have the same meaning: wom!n = woman, women, colo?r = color, colour (source)


A free document delivery service for all Antioch University students, faculty, and staff Use We Deliver! for everything you cannot download from the A-Z GatewayJournals and Book Chapters - sent electronically  Returnables- books, videos, etc. - sent by mail 

​WeDeliver! Guide/Links