Brought to you by the Encyclopedia of Law team.

Like everything else on the web, this is a work in progress.

  • AACR2: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, second edition; the rules used for describing and entering library materials in catalogs.
  • Abbreviations: see acronyms
  • Abstract: A brief summary of a work which tells enough to allow a reader to decide whether or not it has the information sought; in many cases, it also contains keywords and/or terms used to index the work so that it can be retrieved.
  • Access: When used in its broadest sense, this term encapsulates the purpose of librarianship–enabling people to identify, locate, and use the information that will meet their educational, occupational, and personal needs. Librarians espouse principles of free inquiry and intellectual freedom; they oppose barriers to access, such as censorship or restrictions based on age, cost, etc. In library organizational structure, access services encompasses functions such as circulation, interlibrary loan, technical services. In the context of automated information systems, one talks about the way a computer “accesses” records in a file. In cataloging, access points are the names, subject headings, etc., which lead to the bibliographic record.
  • Access point: A name, term, code, etc., under which a bibliographic record may be searched and identified. See also Heading.
  • Acquisitions: Activities related to obtaining library materials through purchase, exchange, or gift.
  • Acronyms (pronounceable abbreviations)
  • Added entry: An entry, additional to the main entry, by which an item is represented in a catalog; a secondary entry. See also Main entry.
  • ALA: American Library Association.
  • ALISE: Association of Library and Information Science Education
  • Alphabetical catalog: See Dictionary catalog.
  • Alphabetical specific catalog: A catalog containing subject entries based on the principle of specific and direct entry and arranged alphabetically. See also Alphabetico-classed catalog; Classed catalog; Dictionary catalog.
  • Analytical entry: An entry for a part of an item for which a comprehensive entry is also made.
  • Analytico-synthetic scheme: See Faceted scheme.
  • Annotation: A note which accompanies an entry in a bibliography, which tells what the item is about. It differs from an abstract in that it need not necessarily be a summary of the contents. It can be objective, evaluative, or promotional, depending on the purpose of the bibliography.
  • ANSI: American National Standards Institute; See also NISO.
  • Archives: Organized body of noncurrent records of an organization, corporation, agency, or an individual or family, maintained and preserved because of their historical value or to meet legal requirements; also, the depository itself. An archive may be a part of a library or other institution, or it may be a separate entity. It differs from a library in the means it uses to organize the collection and to provide access to it.
  • Area: A major section of the bibliographic description, comprising data elements of a particular category or set of categories. See also Element.
  • ARL: Association of Research Libraries.
  • Array: A group of coordinate subjects on the same level of a hierarchical structure, e.g., oranges, lemons, limes, but not citrus fruit.
  • ASIS: American Society for Information Science

See Personal author.
Author number
A combination of letters or figures or both, representing the name of an author in a call number. See also Item number.
Author-title added entry
See Name-title added entry.
Author-title reference
See Name-title reference.
Authority control
Means used to insure consistency in entering variant names, titles, spellings, etc. into a database.
Authority file
A collection of authority records.
Authority record
See also Name authority record; Subject authority record.
Changing from manual, paperbased methods of recording, organizing, and retrieving information to computerized systems. Circulation control and cataloging are among the most widely automated library functions.
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Bibliographic access
The whole apparatus of access to records of all kinds (textual, numerical, visual, musical, oral resources, etc. in all kinds of storage media (books, journals, microform, computer storage, disks, Web-based, hypertext, etc. This includes identifying documents, locating documents, and providing physical access to material.
Bibliographic classification
See Close classification.
Bibliographic control
The identification and location of items of recorded information, described and listed in an orderly arrangement. The aim is to provide access to the bibliographic universe.
Bibliographic description
The description of a bibliographic item, consisting of information, including title and statement of responsibility, edition, publication and manufacturing, physical description, notes of useful information, and standard numbers, that together uniquely identifies the item.
Bibliographic file
A collection of bibliographic records.
Bibliographic instruction (BI)
In academic libraries, classes for students on how to use the library. In elementary and high schools, teaching library skills is more commonly used (see also Information literacy).
Bibliographic record
The description of an item of recorded information, which includes all the data necessary to uniquely identify it, together with access points. For records entered into an online catalog, the MARC format is generally used.
Bibliographic utility
Organization which maintains an online bibliographic database to support library functions such as cataloging and interlibrary loan (e.g., OCLC, RLIN) Libraries can arrange to access bibliographic records directly or through service centers (e.g. PALINET in our area).
Biographical heading
A subject heading used with biographies which consists of the name of a class of persons with appropriate subdivisions (e.g., Physicians–California–Biography; Poets–American–19th century–Biography).
A list of selected items from the bibliographic universe, which bear some relationship to each other; arrangement varying depending on purpose. Also, the study of books as physical objects (as a means of determining the history and transmission of texts) and the description of books in terms of authorship, edition, etc.
Book History
See History of Books and Printing
Book number
See Item number.
Book Publishing
See: Publishing Terms
Book Related Terms
Go Here
A method of searching a computerized database which uses the operators “and,” “or,” and “not” to combine concepts.
Broad classification
See also Close classification.
Used to mean library user scanning the stacks for something to read; now more likely to refer to software used to access Web documents (e.g., Lynx, Mosaic, Netscape).
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Call number
Set of symbols which identifies an item in a library collection and indicates its location. Usually, a combination of classification and author designations.
Cartographic material
Any material representing the whole or part of the earth or any celestial body at any scale; cartographic materials include, two- and three-dimensional maps and plans (including maps of imaginary places); aeronautical, navigational, and celestial charts; atlases; globes; block diagrams; sections; aerial photographs with a cartographic purpose; bird’s-eye views (map views); etc. See Also: Geographic Information Systems
A file of bibliographic records, created according to specific and uniform principles of construction and under the control of an authority file, which describes the materials contained in a collection, library, or group of libraries. It is commonly produced in card, book, online (OPAC), CD-ROM, or COM formats.
Cataloging copy
A cataloging record prepared by an agency to be used by other agencies or libraries.
Cataloging record
A basic unit in a catalog, containing cataloging data –bibliographic description, subject headings, and call number–of a particular item. The record may be displayed in different forms, such as a machine-readable record or a catalog card.
Compact Disc Read-Only Memory; a format increasingly used to store large computer-readable bibliographic database.
Centralized cataloging
The preparation of cataloging records by one agency to be used by other agencies or libraries. See also Shared Cataloging.
Certification of librarians
Often confused with licensure; in New Jersey, public librarians and educational media specialists must be “certified” by the Department of Education, i.e., licensed to practice, based upon educational credentials. Certification is used accurately when the term refers to the process by which a professional or other appropriate body establishes qualifications and competencies and certifies individuals who meet these; usually voluntary.
A series of subject terms each from a different level of a hierarchy, arranged either from general to specific or vice versa.
Characteristic of division
See Facet
Chief source of information
The source of bibliographic data to be given preference as the source from which a bibliographic description (or portion thereof) is prepared.
Chronological subdivision
A subdivision showing the period or span of time treated in a work or the period during which the work appeared. (Also called Period subdivision).
Function of lending library materials to borrowers.
A note referring to a work from which information is quoted or alluded to.
Citation order
The order by which the facets or elements of a compound or complex subject are arranged in a subject heading or class number.
See also Classify (2); Classification).
Class entry
A subject entry consisting of a string of hierarchically related terms beginning with the broadest term and leading to the subject in question, in the form of a chain.
Class number
Notation that designates the class to which a given item belongs.
Classed catalog
A subject catalog consisting of class entries arranged logically according to a systematic scheme of classification. Also called Class catalog; Classified subject catalog; Systematic catalog. See also Alphabetical specific catalog; Alphabetico-classes catalog; Dictionary catalog.
Classification system
A logical system for the arrangement of knowledge.
A person who designs or develops a classification system or one who engages in the philosophy and theory of classification.
A person who applies a classification system to a body of knowledge or a collection of documents.
Close classification
Council on Library Resources
Coalition for Networked Information, sponsored by ARL and several educational organizations; concerned with information policy, with special attention to copyright and intellectual property issues.
Coextensive heading
A heading that represents precisely (not more generally or specifically than) the subject content of a work.
One who works with one or more associates to produce a work; all may make the same kind of contribution, as in the case of shared responsibility, or they may make different kinds of contributions, as in the case of collaboration between an artist and a writer See also Mixed responsibility; Shared responsibility.
Collection management
Includes setting and coordinating selection policies; assessing user needs and studying use; selection, evaluation, and weeding; planning for resource sharing.
Collective biography
A work consisting of two or more life histories. See also Individual biography.
Collective title
A title proper that is an inclusive title for an item containing several works. See also Uniform title (3).
Computer Output Microform
See also Editor.
Completely revised schedule
Previously called phoenix schedule, a term used in the Dewey Decimal Classification meaning a completely new development of the schedule for a specific discipline. Except by chance, only the basic number for the discipline remains the same as in previous editions; all other numbers are freely reused.
Compound surname
A surname consisting of two or more proper names, sometimes connected by a hyphen, conjunction, and/or preposition.
Computer History, photographic branch.
Check here, for Chris Brown-Syed’s photographic history of computer gizmos. Here is a page with links to a number of computer history pages. And here is a page with pictures and technical data on a number of old desktops. I should have taken a picture of my Morrow MD-3 before I gave it to Goodwill.
Computer related terminology
Here are a number of links to computer/information related glossaries. We cannot answer for either currency or accuracy, but a quick inspection of all of them didn’t reveal any glaring deficiencies.
The Information Society Glossary This is based somewhere in the European Commission in Belgium, so loading may not be lightning like.
University of New Mexico Glossary of Library, Computer, and Internet Terms
The Cyberatlas Glossary. Cyberatlas is very useful for tracking the business side of the WWW
BABEL:A Glossary of Computer Oriented Abbreviations and Acronyms
The use of chemicals and physical procedures in treatment or storage to ensure the preservation of books, manuscripts and other materials.
Content designation
A system of special codes (tags, indicators, and subfield codes) in a USMARC record used for the purpose of identifying a particular unit of information (See also Tag; Indicator; Subfield code).
Controlled vocabulary
In subject analysis and retrieval, the use of an authorized subset of the language as indexing terms.
Conventional name
A name, other than the real or official name, by which a corporate body, place, or thing has come to be known.
Conventional title
See Uniform title.
Cooperative cataloging
See Shared cataloging.
Copy cataloging
The process of adapting an existing catalog record prepared by another library or agency. See also Original cataloging.
Corporate body
An organization or group of persons that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as an entity. Typical examples of corporate bodies are associations, institutions, business firms, nonprofit enterprises, governments, government agencies, religious bodies, local churches, and conferences.
Placing works on the same subject in two different class numbers when a given work deals with two or more subdivisions of a subject, with each subdivision representing a different characteristic of division. Such a situation creates the possibility of inconsistent classification. Example: A work on weaving cotton cloth deals with two subdivisions of textile technology, cotton (material) and weaving (process), and may be classed with either. See also Citation order.
See Reference
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Data Format
see File Extensions
Organized collection of information stored in a computer. Sometimes applied to noncomputerized set of data.
See: Dewey Decimal Classification
A code (represented by the symbol | or $) used to identify a subfield in a USMARC record.
Depository library
Legally designated to receive free copies of government publications.
Descriptive Bibliography Terminology
go Here
Descriptive cataloging
That part of cataloging consisting of the presentation of bibliographic description and the determination of access points through personal names, corporate names, and titles.
In indexing, word or symbol used to designate the subject of a work.
Dewey Decimal Classification
Devised by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Probably the most widely used classification system in the world today. Look here for more information.
Major vendor of online databases.
Dictionary catalog
A catalog in which all the entries (author, title, subject, series, etc.) and the cross-references are interfiled in one alphabetical sequence. The subject entries in a dictionary catalog are based on the principle of specific and direct entry. Also called Alphabetical catalog. See also Alphabetical specific catalog; Alphabetico-classed catalog; Classed catalog.
Digital library
Collection of texts, images, etc., encoded so as to be stored, retrieved, and read by computer.
Digital printing
Printing from digitized information, rather than hot metal, or photographic printing. Here is a glossary of specialized terms in digital printing. See also Printing terms, and Publishing terms, below.
Direct subdivision
Geographic subdivision of subject headings by the name of a local place without interposition of the name of a larger geographic entity. See also Geographic subdivision; Indirect subdivision.
In the USMARC record, a series of entries that contain the MARC tag, length, and starting location of each variable field within the record.
The physical entity which contains recorded information–books, graphics, audio recordings, etc. may be called documents.
Systematic collection, organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of specialized information, especially scientific or technical. In the context of computers, the manual that explains hardware and software operation. In the context of information science history, “documentation” was the nomenclature prior to the 1960s.
Duplicate entry
Entry of the same subject heading in two different forms (e.g., United States–Foreign relations–France and France–Foreign relations–United States).
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Edition: Books, pamphlets, fascicles, single sheets, etc.
All copies produced from essentially the same type image (whether by direct or by photographic or other methods) and issued by the same entity. See also Reprint.
One who prepares for publication an item not his or her own. The editorial work may be limited to the preparation of the item for the manufacturer, or it may include supervision of the manufacturing, revision (restitution), or elucidation of the content of the item and the addition of an introduction, notes, and other critical matter. In some cases, it may involve the technical direction of a staff of persons engaged in creating or compiling the content of the item. See also Compiler.
Electronic list (also known simply as list)
A discussion group on a list server that is set up for a particular group and/or topic.
A word, phrase, or group of characters representing a distinct unit of bibliographic information and forming part of an area (q.v.) of the description.
End user
A library user who requests an online database search; nonlibrarian who conducts his/her own online searches.
A record of an item in a catalog. See also Heading.
Entry word
The word by which an entry is arranged in the catalog, usually the first word (other than an article) of the heading. See also Heading.
Enumerative scheme
A classification scheme or subject headings system which lists subjects and their subdivisions and provides ready-made class marks or compound headings for them. See also Faceted scheme.
Printed material, including pamphlets and clippings, which record or are of use in current events, and which are not intended for long-term preservation.
Explanatory reference
An elaborated see or see also reference that explains the circumstances under which the headings involved should be consulted.
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A component (based on a particular characteristic) of a complex subject (e.g., geographic facet, language facet, literary form facet).
Facet analysis
The division of a subject into its component parts (facets). Each array of a facet consists of parts based on the same characteristic (e.g., English language, French language, German language, etc.).
Faceted scheme
A classification scheme that identifi3es subjects by their component parts and requires fitting together the appropriate parts in order to provide a class mark for a work. For example, the Colon classification is a faceted scheme, while the Dewey Decimal classification is partially so. Also called Analytico-synthetic scheme. See also Enumerative scheme.
A unit of data in a USMARC record, identified by a three-character numeric tag.
Field terminator
A symbol used to signal the end of a field in a USMARC record.
A collection of related records treated as a unit.
File Extensions
A three (usually) character identifier attached to names of computer files in the DOS/WINDOWS world. Text.doc, for instance, text being the filename, .doc being the file extension. File extenders enable the computer to identify the kind of file it is looking at. Most desktop applications automatically assign file extenders to named files, although there may still be some older applications that do not do so. As of this writing (04/01) the file extender .HTML may be the only one longer than three characters. For a lengthy list of file extenders go here.
Fixed field
A field with a fixed (i.e., predetermined) length in a USMARC record. See also Variable field.
Fixed location
System of marking and arranging library materials by shelf and book marks so that their absolute position in room or tier and on the shelf is always the same.
Form heading
A heading representing the physical, bibliographic, artistic, or literary form of a work (e.g., Encyclopedias and dictionaries, Essays, Short stories, String quartets).
Form subdivision
A division of a class number or subject heading which brings out the form of the work (e.g., -03 and -05 in Dewey Decimal Classification, –Dictionaries and –Periodicals in Library of Congress Subject Headings).
Free-floating subdivision
A subdivision that may be used by a cataloger at the Library of Congress under any existing appropriate subject heading for the first time without establishing the usage editorially.
Free text
The use of natural language in information retrieval. See also Controlled vocabulary.
File Transfer Protocol makes it possible to send data contained in files between computers.
Full stop
A British contribution to AACR2, this is the term used for the symbol representing the punctuation mark, the period (i.e., the ” . ” ).
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General material designation (GMD)
A term indicating the broad class of material to which an item belongs (e.g., sound recordings).
General reference
A blanket reference to a group of headings rather than a particular heading. See also Specific reference.
Geographic Information Systems
Look here for some good definitions and links to other map/GIS glossaries.
Geographic qualifier
The name of a larger geographic entity added to a local place name (e.g., Cambridge (Mass.), Toledo (Spain)).
Geographic subdivision
A subdivision by the name of a place to which the subject represented by the main heading is limited. See also Direct subdivision; Indirect subdivision.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Software that searches and retrieves documents on remote computers for display on yours. Information is presented via menus.
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A title of a publication appearing on a leaf preceding the title page.
The access point (word, name, or phrase) to a bibliographic record which determines the filing of the entry.
The arrangement of disciplines and subjects in an order ranging from the most general to the most specific.
History of Books, Printing, Libraries
See David Duncan’s page for a wide variety of subjects. The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress has useful links, as does this page at Catholic University although it has not been updated in a while. The Library History Round Table of ALA maintains this site. The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) lives here.
Issues of a serial owned by a library; also may be used to mean the library’s entire collection.
A word with the same spelling as another or others, but with a different meaning and origin and sometimes a different pronunciation.
HyperText Markup Language; used to “write” Web pages.
HyperText Transport Protocol allows servers and browsers to communicate on the WWW.
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Information and referral, a service provided by some public libraries which directs users to community services.
ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.
International Federation of Library Associations.
Interlibrary loan.
A note on a book’s title page or its reverse or at the end of the book, giving the publisher’s or printer’s name, time and place of publication (See also Publication, distribution, etc., area).
Systematic guide to the contents of a file, document, or group of documents.
One of two character positions at the beginning of each variable data field in a USMARC record containing values that interpret or supplement the data found in the field.
Indirect subdivision
Geographic subdivision of a subject heading with the interposition of a larger geographic entity between the main heading and the local subdivision. See also Direct subdivision.
Individual biography
A work devoted to the life of a single person. See also Collective biography.
Often used very broadly to encompass all ideas, facts, and imaginative works; can also be used to mean a single data element. Whole volumes have been written in the effort to define it satisfactorily.
Information broker
Individual or organization providing information service to clients for a fee.
Information center
Corporate libraries are often called this; may also mean that department of an organization which assists staff in using computers.
Information industry
Used by librarians to lump vendors of online databases, jobbers, producers of materials and automated systems acquired by libraries, etc.
Information literacy
The ability to define problems in terms of information needs, to locate, evaluate, and apply information (see also BI).
Information science
The study of the creation, use, and management of information in all its forms.
Information technology
The entire array of mechanical and electronic devices which aid in the storage, retrieval, communication, and management of information–from typewriters to computers to copying machines.
Integrity of numbers
The policy of maintaining the stability of numbers in a classification scheme. Such a policy is opposed to revision, especially when the relocation of a subject in involved.
An array of many computer networks linked via common communications protocols, which includes major educational, research, and governmental institutions in some seventy countries.
Internet terms
Link to an internet glossary
SA: computer terminology
A specified period of planned and supervised professional training in a library, upon completion of the MLS, such as the internships provided by the Library of Congress, the University of Michigan Libraries, or the National Library of Medicine. Often used erroneously to describe the practicum or field experience included as part of the course work leading towards the master’s.
Not a misspelling of Internet; rather, an internal information utility that links an organization’s workstations, online systems, and databases, using the same protocol, email, and world wide web standards as the Internet. It can span secure departmental LANs, and is protected from the Internet at large by a firewall.
International Standard Bibliographic Description: An internationally agreed on standard format for representing bibliographic information.
International Standard Book Number: An internationally agreed on standard number that identifies a book uniquely. In the United States, these are obtained from the R.R. Bowker Company.
International Standard Serial Number: An internationally agreed on standard number that identifies a serial publication uniquely. In the U.S. ISSNs are assigned by the Library of Congress.
Information storage and retrieval.
A document or set of documents in any physical form, published, issued, or treated as an entity, and as such forming the basis for a single bibliographic description.
Item number
That part of a call number which designates a specific individual work within its class. May consist of the author number and/or other elements such as a work mark and an edition mark. An item number for a book is also called a book number. The term also refers to an inventory control system used by the U.S. Government Printing Office depository library program. Depository libraries receive material based on the item numbers they activate with GPO.
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Programming language used to write Web applications.
Wholesale book supplier who sells books from the various publishers to bookstores and libraries.
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Key heading
In Sears subject headings, a heading that serves as a model of subdivisions for headings in the same category.
Key title
The unique name assigned to a serial by the International Serials Data System (ISDS).
A significant word in the title, abstract, or text of a document which is used as a descriptor.
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Local area network, a small network of computers in one area (connected by cables and other devices, sharing programs and data).
Library of Congress; the unofficial national library of the U.S. which serves Congress and provides many services to all types of libraries.
The Library of Congress Classification system.
Library of Congress Rule Interpretations Library of Congress interpretations of AACR2 rules, for sale here
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Data elements (numbers or coded values identified by relative character position) that provide information for the processing of the MARC record.
Library Bill of Rights
Codifies the profession’s stance on intellectual freedom as it relates to libraries.

Software that allows the creation of electronic discussion lists on a server for a particular group and/or purpose.
Literary warrant
Literature search
A systematic and exhaustive search for published material on a specific topic.
Local subdivision
See Geographic subdivision
Learning resources center; often used instead of library in K-12 and community colleges.
Library Services and Construction Act, legislation which provides federal funds for libraries.
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Main entry
The complete catalog record of an item, presented in the form by which the entity is to be uniformly identified and cited. The main entry may include the tracing(s) (q.v.). See also Added entry.
Main heading
In subject headings, the first part of a heading excluding subdivisions.
An unpublished printed or hand-written work.
Machine-Readable Cataloging: A system in which cataloging records are prepared in a format that enables the computer to recognize the elements and manipulate them for various purposes.
MARC record
A catalog record in machine-readable form.
Media center
Often used instead of, or in combination with school library.
A sheet of film bearing a number of microimages in a two-dimensional array.
A length of film bearing a number of microimages in linear array.
A generic term for any medium, transparent or opaque, bearing microimages.
Mixed authorship
See Mixed responsibility
Mixed notation
A notational system using a combination of two or more kinds of symbols (e.g., letters and numerals).
Mixed responsibility
A work in which different persons or bodies contribute to its intellectual or artistic content by performing different kinds of activities (e.g., adapting or illustrating a work written by another person) (See also collaborator; Shared responsibility).
Medical Library Association or Music Library Association or Modern Languages Association.
The master’s degree in library service; used generically, it means a master’s degree in library and information studies, although various schools use different wording and letters. The ALA policy states that “The master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association is the appropriate professional degree for librarians.”
Recurring concepts denoted by the same notational symbols in a classification scheme.
Model heading
See Pattern heading.
A nonserial item (i.e., an item either complete in one part or complete, or intended to be completed, in a finite number of separate parts).
Monographic series
See Series (1).
Machine-readable data file (e.g., the census data tapes).
Multimedia item
See Kit (1).
Multipart item
A monograph complete, or intended to be completed, in a finite number of separate parts.
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Name authority file
A collection of name authority records.
Name authority record
A record that shows a personal, corporate, or geographic heading in its established form, cites the authorities consulted in determining the choice of form of name, and indicates the references made to the heading. See also Subject authority record.
Name-title added entry
An added entry consisting of the name of a person or corporate body and title of an item.
Name-title reference
A reference made from the name of a person or a corporate body and the title of an item.
National library
A library designated by a government as such, which usually means that it is the copyright depository and the bibliographic control center of a country.
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science; comprises Librarian of Congress and fourteen members appointed by the President with advice and consent of Senate; organizer of two White House Conferences on Libraries and Information Services; see its “Principles of Public Information” reproduced in this packet.
National Information Infrastructure, a government initiative to develop policies that will affect information access via telecommunication, including Internet, NREN, cable, telephone, etc.
National Standards Organization, a subgroup of ANSI, which prepares technical standards of importance to libraries and publishers, e.g., romanization of various alphabets, criteria for indexes, rules for serials holdings statements, book numbering, etc. See Z39.2, for example.
National Library of Medicine.
Numerals, letters, and/or other symbols used to represent the main and subordinate divisions of a classification scheme. See also Mixed notation; Pure notation.
Notational synthesis
See Number building.
National Research and Education Network, to be developed by 1996, in order to link electronically government, education, and research in a multi-gigabit network.
Number building
The process of making a class number more specific through addition of segments taken from auxiliary tables and/or other parts of the classification (See also Synthesis).
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Online Computer Library Center–bibliographic utility which libraries use to trace, acquire, and catalog materials, or arrange interlibrary loans; formerly Ohio Computer Library Center. Online database service or vendor Organization which provides access to computerized information, such as DIALOG, BRS, etc.
Online catalog
A catalog based on MARC records accessible in an interactive mode.
Original cataloging
The preparation of a cataloging record without the assistance of outside cataloging agencies (See also Copy cataloging).
Out of Print
Online Public Access Catalog
Other title information
A title borne by an item other than the title proper or parallel or series titles(s); also any phrase appearing in conjunction with the title proper, etc., indicative of the character, contents, etc., of the item or the motives for, or occasion of, its production or publication. The term includes subtitles, avant titres, etc., but does not include variations (e.g., spine titles, sleeve titles) on the title proper (q.v.).
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Provides bibliographic services based on OCLC to mid-Atlantic region; offers training, consulting, etc. in “technologies which foster information access, resource sharing…”
A printed work of less than 50 pages.
Parallel title
The title proper in another language and/or script recorded in the title and statement of responsibility area.
Pattern heading
A subject heading that serves as a model of subdivisions for headings in the same category. Subdivisions listed under a pattern heading may be used whenever appropriate under other headings in the same category. For example, Shakespeare, William, 1594-1616 serves as a pattern heading for literary authors, and Piano serves as a pattern heading for musical instruments. Also called Model heading.
Period subdivision
See Chronological subdivision
Personal author
The person chiefly responsible for the creation of the intellectual or artistic content of a work.
Phoenix schedule
See Completely revised schedule.
See Sound recording.
A leaf containing illustrative matter, with or without explanatory text, that does not form part of either the preliminary or the main sequences of pages or leaves.
Combination of individual concepts into compound or complex subjects at the point of retrieval. See also Pre-coordination.
Combination of individual concepts into compound or complex subjects at the point of storage. See also Post-coordination.
The title page or pages of an item, together with the verso of each title page, any pages preceding the title page or title pages, and the cover.
Actions taken to prevent the deterioration of library materials and to save their intellectual content.
Printing Terms
Here is a Glossary of printing and publishing terminology. See also the Publishing Terms and Typography links, below, and the Digital Printing terms, above.
Public services
Includes referencee, user assistance and instruction, and other functions not generally considered to fall within technical services.
Publication, distribution, etc., area
An area in bibliographic description giving details regarding the manufacturing and distribution of a bibliographic item. Such details include place, name, and date. For a printed item, it is called imprint.
Publishing Terms
For a glossary of terms used in the book publishing industry look here. See also the Printing Terms link, above.
Pure notation
A notational system using one kind of symbol only (e.g., Arabic numerals or letters).
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A term (enclosed in parentheses) placed after a name heading or subject heading for the purpose of distinguishing between homographs or clarifying the meaning of the heading (e.g., Paris (France), Indexing (Machineshop practice), PL/I (Computer program language), Mont Blanc (Freighter), Novgorod (Russia : Duchy) (See also Geographic qualifier).
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Ready reference
Provision of quick answers to factual questions, using standard sources such as dictionaries, almanacs, and directories.
A unit in a file or database. See also Bibliographic record; Cataloging record; Name authority record; subject authority record.
Record terminator
A symbol used to signal the end of a USMARC record.
Refer from reference
An indication of the terms of headings from which references are to be made to a given heading. It is the reverse of the indication of a see or see also reference and is represented by the symbols UF (used for) or x (see reference from), and BT (broader term) and RT (related term), or xx (see also reference from). In the MARC authority record, these terms are stored in fields 4XX and 5XX.
A direction from one heading or entry to another (See also Refer from reference; See reference; and See also referenc).
Reference service
Providing answers to users’ questions, in person or by telephone.
Reference source
Any publication from which authoritative information may be obtained. Not limited to reference works.
Relative location
The arrangement of library materials according to their relations to each other and regardless of their locations on the shelves.
An adjustment in a classification system resulting in the shifting of a topic between successive editions from one number to another.
Research Libraries Information Network, the bibliographic utility which serves primarily very large university libraries.
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Society of American Archivists.
List of subject headings used by small, non-specialized libraries.
Secondary entry
See Added entry.
See also reference
A reference from a heading to a less comprehensive or otherwise related heading.
See reference
A reference from a term or name not used as a heading to one that is used.
The practice of breaking down a long Dewey Decimal class number into shorter segments. Libraries that decide to use shorter numbers can then cut off the long number at designated points (e.g., 574.1’92’05).
A publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numeric or chronologic designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals; newspapers; annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); the journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc., of societies; and numbered monographic series. See also Series (1).
See also Serial).
Can refer to the machine that stores files of many users and programs that can be shared, or to the program that allows communication with a browser.
Shared authorship
See Shared responsibility.
Shared cataloging
The preparation by one of several participating agencies or libraries of a cataloging record which is made available to the other participating agencies or libraries. Also called Cooperative cataloging.
See also Centralized cataloging.
Master file of a library’s collection, arranged in the same classified order as the books on the shelves.
Special Libraries Association.
Specific entry
Entry of a work under a heading that expresses its special subject or topic as distinguished from an entry for the class or broad subject which encompasses that special subject or topic.
Special reference
A reference from one heading to another (See also General reference).
Standard subdivision
In Dewey Decimal Classification, a subdivision that represents a frequently recurring physical form (dictionaries, periodicals, etc.) or approach (history, research, etc.) applicable to any subject or discipline.
State library
The library that serves a state’s legislature and state employees; usually also the general public. In many cases, it also houses the state’s library development agency, which distributes state and federal aid to libraries, conducts statewide planning, fosters cooperation and resource sharing, and collects statistics.
Statement of responsibility
A statement, transcribed from the item being described, relating to persons responsible for the intellectual or artistic content of the item, to corporate bodies from which the content emanates, or to persons or corporate bodies responsible for the performance of the content of the item.
The device of extending a subject heading by indicating one of its aspects–form, place, period, topic. See also Form subdivision; Geographic subdivision; Chronological subdivision; Topical subdivision.
A subunit within a field in a USMARC record.
Subfield code
A two-character code identifying a subfield in the MARC record, consisting of a delimiter followed by a data element identifier (a lowercase alphabetic or numeric character).
The theme or topic treated by the author in a work, whether stated in the title or not.
Subject analysis
The process of identifying the intellectual content of a work. The results may be displayed in a catalog or bibliography by means of notational symbols as in a classification system or by verbal terms such as subject headings or indexing terms.
Subject analytical entry
A subject entry made for a part of a work.
Subject authority file
A collection of subject authority records.
Subject authority record
A record of a subject heading that shows its established form, cites the authorities consulted in determining the choice and form of the heading. See also Name authority record.
Subject catalog
A catalog consisting of subject entries only; the subject portion of a divided catalog.
Subject cataloging
Subject-to-name reference
A reference from a subject heading to a name heading for the purpose of directing the user’s attention from a particular field of interest to names of individuals or corporate bodies that are active or associated in some way with the field.
Subordinate body
A corporate body that forms an integral part of a larger body in relation to which it holds an inferior hierarchical rank.
A series within a series (i.e., a series that always appears in conjunction with another, usually more comprehensive, series of which it forms a section). Its title may or may not be dependent on the title of the main series.
The policy of adopting a new catalog code while leaving headings derived from an earlier code unrevised.
Syndetic device
The device used to connect related headings by means of cross-references.
Syndetic structure
In a catalog or index, the network of see and see also references showing relationships between headings and descriptors.
The process of composing a class number, subject heading, or indexing term by combining various elements in order to represent a compound or complex subject. See also Number building.
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A three-character numeric code that identifies a field in a USMARC record.
Technical services
Generally includes cataloging, acquisitions, processing of new materials.
Word or phrase used in a definite or precise sense to provide access to a record.
Guide to use of terms, showing relationships between them, for the purpose of providing standardized, controlled vocabulary for information storage and retrieval.
A word, phrase, character, or group of characters, normally appearing in an item, that names the item or the work contained in it. See also Title proper; Uniform title.
Title proper
The chief name of an item, including any alternative title but excluding parallel titles and other title information.
Topical subdivision
A subdivision that represents an aspect of the main subject other than form, place or period. See also Form subdivision; Geographic subdivision; chronological subdivision.
Check here for a one glossary, and here for a list of typographic/printing glossaries.
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See: Universal Decimal Classification
Uniform heading
The particular heading by which a subject or person that may be represented by different names or different forms of a name is to be listed in the catalog.
Uniform title
Union catalog
A catalog representing the holdings of a group of libraries.
Union list
Merged list of holdings of several libraries, usually serials, showing who has what.
Unique heading
A heading that represents only one person, corporate body, or subject.
Unit card
A basic unit in a card catalog containing the bibliographic record of an item, showing the main entry heading, bibliographic description in several short paragraphs, the tracings for subject and added entries, and various control numbers.
Universal Decimal Classification
System devised by Henri LaFontaine and Paul Otlet in 1905. Based on the 5th edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification, it has since gone its own way. Look here for a partial breakdown of the UDC schedules.
The communications operating system used on servers. As opposed to the operating system on a personal computer(e.g., DOS), UNIX allows multiple users and uses at the same time.
Uniform resource locator — Web address.
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Variable field
A field with variable length in a USMARC record (See also Fixed field).
Virtual library
Access to electronic information in a variety of remote locations through a local online catalog or other gateway, such as the Internet.
Verso of the title page
The back side of the title page
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Web site
A file of related Web pages of text and graphics linked through Hypertext.
World Wide Web (Web for short), the graphical environment that gives hypertext-linked access to information on the Internet.
White House Conference on Library and Information Services.
Work mark
A part of a call number based on the title of a work (See also Item number; Call number).
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The NISO Information Interchange Format which undergirds library automation and cooperation by standardizing MARC and other bibliographic formats, enabling them to be used on a variety of platforms.


Aspect: An approach to a subject, or characteristic (facet) of a subject. See also
Discipline; Facet; Subject.

Broad classification: The classification of works in broad categories by logical
abridgment, even when more specific numbers are available, e.g., the use of 641.5
Cooking instead of 641.5972 Mexican cooking for a cookbook of Mexican recipes.
Broad classification is the opposite of close classification. See also Abridged edition;
Close classification.

Call number: A set of letters, numerals, or other symbols (in combination or alone) used
by a library to identify a specific copy of a work. A call number may consist of the class
number; book number; and other data such as date, volume number, copy number, and
location symbol. See also Book number; Class number.
Caption: See Heading.
Category: See Class (Noun).

Characteristic of division: See Facet.

Class: (Noun) A category in the DDC formed on the basis of one or more characteristics
and represented by a number. Classes explicitly provided in the tables and schedules are
accompanied by a description consisting of a heading and often one or more notes. See also Division; Entry (1); Main class; Section; Subdivision. (Verb) To assign a class
number to an individual work. See also Classify.

Classification: A logical system for the arrangement of knowledge.
Classified catalog: A catalog arranged according to the notational order of a
classification system.
Classify: (1) To arrange a collection of items according to a classification system. (2) To
assign a class number to an individual work.

Concept: An idea represented in full or part by a class.
Coordinate: Describes a number or topic at a level equal to another number or topic in
the same hierarchy.
Cross classification: The accidental placement of works on the same subject in two
different class numbers. This tends to happen when works being classified deal with two
or more characteristics of a subject in the same class. Notes on preference order should
prevent cross classification. See also Preference order.
Cross reference: See Class-elsewhere note; See-also reference; See reference.

Discipline: An organized field of study or branch of knowledge, e.g., 200 Religion, 530
Physics, 364 Criminology. In the DDC, subjects are arranged by disciplines. See also

Discontinuation: The shifting of a topic or the complete removal of the topic or number. A topic is discontinued because the topic or concept has a negligible current legal literature or represents a distinction that is no longer valid in the
literature or common perception of the legal field. A note explaining its shift or removal
accompanies a discontinued topic. See also Relocation; Schedule reduction.

Division: The second level of subdivision in the DDC, represented by the first two digits
in the notation, e.g., 64 in 640 Home and family management. See also Legal Classification Levels; Main class; Section.

Document: A generic term for all media capable of conveying, coding, and preserving
knowledge. Documents may be books, journals, electronic resources, reports, sound
recordings, motion pictures, etc.

Facet: Any of the various categories into which a given class may be divided, e.g.,
division of the class “people” into the categories of ethnicity, age, education, and
language spoken. Each category contains terms based on a single characteristic of
division, e.g., children, adolescents, and adults are characteristics of division of the
“ages” category.

Heading: The word or phrase used as the description of a given class. Also called

Hierarchy: The arrangement of a classification system from general to specific. In the
DDC, the length of the notation and the corresponding depth of indention of the heading
usually indicate the degree of specificity of a class. See references and centered entries
are used to indicate exceptions to the notational hierarchy. See also Centered entry; See

Legal Classification Levels: A listing of the first three levels (main classes, divisions, and sections)
of the Dewey Decimal Classification system. The headings associated with the numbers
in the summaries have been edited for browsing purposes, and may not match the
complete headings found in the schedules. See also Division; Main class; Section;

Main class: One of the ten major subdivisions of the DDC, represented by the first digit
in the notation, e.g., 3 in 300 Social sciences. See also DDC Summaries; Division;

Notation: Numerals, letters, and/or symbols used to represent the main and subordinate
divisions of a classification scheme. In the DDC, Arabic numerals are used to represent
the classes, e.g., notation 07 from Table 1 and 511.3 from the schedules. See also Class
Notational synthesis: See Number building.
Note: An instruction, definition, or reference that explains the contents and use of a class,
or the relationship of the class to other classes.

Option: An alternative to standard notation provided in the schedules and tables to give
emphasis to an aspect in a library’s collection not given preferred treatment in the
standard notation. In some cases, an option may provide shorter notation for the aspect.

Schedules: Listings of subjects and their subdivisions arranged in a systematic order
with notation given for each subject and its subdivisions.

Scope note: A note indicating that the meaning of a class number is broader or narrower
than is apparent from the heading.
Section: The third level of subdivision in the DDC, represented by the first three digits in
the notation, e.g., 641 in 641 Food and drink. See also DDC Summaries; Division;
Main class.
See-also reference: (1) In the schedules and tables, a note leading to classes that are
tangentially related to the topic and therefore might be confused with it. (2) In the
Relative Index, a note leading to a synonym, broader term, or related term. (3) In the
Manual, a note leading to related Manual notes.

See reference: A note (introduced by the word “for”) that leads from the stated or
implied comprehensive or interdisciplinary number for a subject to component parts of
the subject in numbers other than direct subdivisions of the original number or span. See
also Class-elsewhere note.

Subject: An object of study. Also called topic. It may be a person or a group of persons,
thing, place, process, activity, abstraction, or any combination of these. In the DDC,
subjects are arranged by disciplines. A subject is often studied in more than one
discipline, e.g., marriage is studied in several disciplines such as ethics, religion,
sociology, and law. See also Discipline.
Subject catalog: An index to the contents of a collection. If access is provided
alphabetically by words, it is called an alphabetical subject catalog. If access is provided
by the notation of a classification system, it is called a classified catalog. See also
Classified catalog.
Subordinate: Describes a number or topic at a lower (narrower) level than another
number or topic in the same hierarchy. See also Superordinate.
Summary: A listing of the chief subdivisions of a class that provides an overview of its
structure. See also DDC Summaries.


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