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Guide For International Students

Information and resources for international students on campus.

Search the Library Catalog

Use the library catalog, to search for books, journals, eBooks, and audio-visual materials owned by the library



Common Library Terms

Multilingual Glossary of Terms

Abstract: A summary or brief description of the content of another longer work. An abstract is often provided along with the citation to a work. 

Authentication: A security process that typically employs usernames and passwords to validate the identity of users before allowing them access to certain information. 

Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document. See also Reference

Boolean operator: A word—such as AND, OR, or NOT—that commands a computer to combine search terms. Helps to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) searches. 

Call number: A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. Three major types of call numbers are Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and Superintendent of Documents. 

Catalog: A database (either online or on paper cards) listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library. Various search terms allow you to look for items in the catalog. 

Check-out: To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it. Check-out periods vary by library. Items are checked out at the circulation desk.

Circulation: The place in the library, often a desk, where you check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.

Citation: A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. A citation to a book includes its author's name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.

Controlled vocabulary: Standardized terms used in searching a specific database.

Course reserve: Select books, articles, videotapes, or other materials that instructors want students to read or view for a particular course. These materials are usually kept in one area of the library and circulate for only a short period of time. See also Electronic reserve

Database: A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer. 

Hold: A request to have an item saved (put aside) to be picked up later. Holds can generally be placed on any regularly circulating library material in-person or online.

Index: 1. A list of names or topics—usually found at the end of a publication—that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms. 

Interlibrary services/loan: A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. See also Document delivery.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. See also Periodical.

Keyword: A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of an information resource that indicates its subject and is often used as a search term. 

Limits/limiters: Options used in searching that restrict your results to only information resources meeting certain other, non-subject-related, criteria. Limiting options vary by database, but common options include limiting results to materials available full-text in the database, to scholarly publications, to materials written in a particular language, to materials available in a particular location, or to materials published at a specific time. 

Peer-reviewed journal: Peer review is a process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the experts’ peers. Peer review helps to ensure the quality of an information source. A peer-reviewed journal is also called a refereed journal or scholarly journal

Plagiarism: Using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging the original source.

Primary source: An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.

Print: The written symbols of a language as portrayed on paper. Information sources may be either print or electronic. 

Refereed journal: See Peer-reviewed journal.  

Scholarly journal: See Peer-reviewed journal.

Secondary sources: Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs. 

Serial: Publications such as journals, magazines and newspapers that are generally published multiple times per year, month, or week. Serials usually have number volumes and issues.  

Subject heading: Descriptions of an information source’s content assigned to make finding information easier. See also Controlled vocabulary, Descriptors.

For more extensive definitions:

  • Feather, John, and Paul Sturges, eds. 2003. International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
  • Prytherch, Ray. 2005. Harrod’s Librarians’ Glossary and Reference Book. Aldershot, England: Gower.
  • Reitz, Joan M. ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Libraries Unlimited.

Finding Books by Call Numbers

Each book is given a unique call number chosen according to the LC system, and the books are arranged on the shelves in order by that call number.  The following call numbers are in order as you would find them on the shelf. Note that the first number in the call number is treated as a whole number (PS25 comes before PS132) and that the second number is treated as a decimal (G294 comes before G38).

 Call Number Examples in Order
















Library of Congress Classification System

Dewey Decimal Classification System

Library of Congress Classification Call Number

Courtright Memorial Library uses the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. This system organizes books and other library materials by subject which make it easier for you to browse the shelves for materials on a specific topic. Library of Congress call numbers always begin with letters of the alphabet. This system is organized into 21 main classes which are designated by letters of the alphabet.

The partial outline below can be useful for browsing the shelves:

  • A -- General Works
  • B -- Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
  • C -- Auxiliary Sciences of History (Genealogy, Archaeology, Biography, etc.)
  • D -- History (General) and History of Europe
  • E -- History: America
  • F -- History: America
  • G -- Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
  • H -- Social Sciences
  • J -- Political Science
  • K -- Law
  • L -- Education
  • M -- Music and Books on Music
  • N -- Fine Arts
  • P -- Language and Literature
  • Q -- Science
  • R -- Medicine
  • S -- Agriculture
  • T -- Technology
  • U -- Military Science
  • V -- Naval Science
  • Z -- Bibliography, Library Science

See the Library of Congress Classification Outline for the complete classification system.