Glossary of Library Terms

Abstract Journal - an index to articles in magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. Abstracts, or summaries, of the articles are provided.

Call Number - a unique number (or a group of letters and numbers) assigned to each book in the Library based on the subject of the book. Books in the Robertson Library are arranged on the shelves by Library of Congress call numbers.

Circulating Books - books which may be signed out of the Library.

Database - a collection of information organized for rapid retrieval. A phonebook is an example of a print database. The term is often used to refer to a database searchable by computer.

Electronic Database - see Database.

Electronic Journal - a journal that is accessible via the Internet; also known as e-journal.

Encyclopedia - a book or set of books containing articles in every field of knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order, or a similar work limited to a specific field or subject.

Government Document - a work published by any government agency. Many government documents are shelved on the Main Level of the Robertson Library, opposite the Reference Collection. P.E.I. government documents are housed in the Special Collections area.

Homepage - the main page of a website. Homepages often have links to other pages within the site. Robertson Library's homepage is at

Interlibrary Loan - a service where research materials, such as books, chapters of books, or journal articles, can be obtained for you from another Library if the material is not available at Robertson Library.

Journal - a type of periodical intended for a scholarly audience. May be issued by a society or institution and contain news, proceedings, transactions, and articles about work carried out in a particular discipline. Compare with magazine.

Library Catalogue - a computer database which allows users to retrieve information about materials owned by a particular library.

Library of Congress Classification System - a classification system for library materials developed by the Library of Congress for its collection, and now used by most academic libraries. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subject, thus ensuring that books on similar subjects are shelved together (making it easier for browsing). See How Do I Read a Call Number.

Magazine - a type of periodical intended for a general reading audience and containing articles of popular interest. Compare with journal.

Microfiche - one type of microform. A small rectangular sheet of film, containing 40 or more photographically-reduced document pages.

Microfilm - one type of microform. A roll of film containing photographically-reduced document pages.

Microform - the general term used for printed items which have been photographed and reduced in size. The two main types of microform are microfiche and microfilm. Microforms can be read using special machines.

Periodical - an item which is published on a regular basis, such as magazines, newspapers, and journals. Serial is sometimes used as a synonymous term.

Periodical Index - an index to articles in magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. Many periodical indexes are now available in electronic form.

Primary Sources - materials written at the time an event happened. Diaries, letters, records of organizations and government agencies, and contemporary newspaper articles are generally considered primary sources.

Reference Book - a book designed to be consulted for specific pieces of information, rather than to be read from cover to cover. Reference Books include atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks, and are restricted to in-library use.

Request - placing a request on an item which has been borrowed by another user guarantees that when it is returned it will be held for you at the Circulation Desk. Requests can be placed at the Circulation Desk or through the online Catalogue.

Serial - see Periodical.