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Getting Started: Information Research Tips

Introductory help in learning how to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically for research assignments.

Library Lingo (A-Z)


Abstract: a brief description or summary of an item.
Academic Library: refers to the library of a college, university, or other post-secondary institution of higher education. The library serves the information and research needs of its students, faculty, and staff.
Access Services: the service department where library materials can be checked out and returned, often called Circulation Department.
Arts Library: (see "UCLA Library")
Ask a Librarian: digital (chat) reference service staffed by librarians and other library staff.


Biomedical Library: (see "UCLA Library")
Boolean operators: named after mathematician George Boole, the most commonly used are: AND, OR, and NOT. They connect search words together to tell a system how to combine those words. Google and some databases automatically insert AND between search words, while in others, you must type connectors between search words.
Bound volumes: issues of magazine, journal and other loose publications, sewn or glued together, with front and back covers, like a hardcover book.
Bruin OnLine Proxy Server: set up your BOL proxy server to gain access to our library resources remotely. Available to current UCLA students, faculty and staff.


Call number: the number located on the spine of a library book that is used to identify its place on a shelf. The UCLA Library uses the Library of Congress (LC) classification system.
Catalog: (see "Library Catalog")
College Library: (see "Powell Library") the undergraduate library at UCLA, located in the Lawrence Clark Powell Building.
Circulation: (see "Access Services")
Citation: a reference to an item which provides enough bibliographic information for someone to locate that item. These items document sources and also serve as evidence for arguments in published materials.


Database: an index to articles within magazines, newspapers, and/or journals (e.g. Academic Search Complete, ProQuest Newspapers, ERIC)
Descriptors: (see "subject headings")
Domain: provides a general idea of what kind of web site you are viewing, mostly through the use of suffixes, like .edu for educational organization. Want more? Check the Webopedia for more info.


East Asian Library: (see "UCLA Library")
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): markup language for webpages. Unlike a PDF document, an HTML full-text may include links that take you to different sections of a document. The disadvantage of an HTML full-text is the loss of original images and page numbers that may exist in an original magazine, newspaper, or journal.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL): interlibrary loan service enables UC students, faculty, and staff to borrow materials not available at UCLA libraries from other libraries, both in this country and abroad.
    The service is free to eligible borrowers:

  •     UC faculty members, including emeriti
  •     UC academic library card holders
  •     UC students
  •     UC staff library card holders

Invisible web: Internet resources that search engines cannot discover, such as the results of dynamically generated searches in subscription databases. 


Law Library: (see "UCLA libraries")
Library catalog: search for books and periodical titles the library owns. Some catalogs also include citations to journal articles.
Licensed database: accessible only to UCLA students, staff, and faculty with UCLA ID and password.
LGBT Library: (see Rae Lee Siporin LGBT Library)
Loan desk: (see "Access Services")


Management Library: (see "UCLA libraries")
Music Library: (see "UCLA Library")
Oversize: refers to books larger than standard and do not fit on regular-sized bookshelves. Oversized books are usually placed in the a separate location from the regular stacks in their respective library. An oversized book is indicated with one, two or three asterisks ( * ) in front of a call number (e.g., *N6655 .O59t).


PDF (Portable Document Format): exact copies of items, as they appeared when published in print. You can read PDF files by using Adobe Acrobat Reader, freely available on the Adobe website.
Peer-reviewed journal: items which have been examined by experts in a field in an effort to ensure quality. Experts look for accuracy, completeness, scholarship, and use of appropriate and up to date supporting evidence. (May be described as refereed, academic, scholarly, or vetted.)
Periodical: an item published at intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. -- e.g., magazines, newspapers, and journals.)
Periodical index: a publication or database that indexes magazine, journal or newspaper articles and may include books, book chapters (essays), dissertations, conference papers, etc. Many periodical databases include fulltext of the indexed articles or links to the fulltext. Important note: Many online databases are licensed for use by specific groups or individuals and may not be available to the general public.
Plagiarism: using another person's work, ideas, and/or words as if they were your own. For more information, see Avoiding Plagiarism.
Powell Library: (formrerly College Library) - the undergraduate library at UCLA, located in the Powell Library building.
Proxy Server: (see "Bruin OnLine Proxy Server)


Rae Lee Siporin LGBT Library: Located in the LGBT Campus Resource Center, within the Student Activities Center.
Refereed journal: (see "Peer-reviewed")
Reference: service that provides students with assistance in doing their research or using the library. Ask general or research questions at the reference desk in-person, by telephone, by email or online through digital reference.
Reference book: this means it is for reference-only and stays in the library and are separate from the circulating books.
Research Library: (see "YRL")
Reserves: library items that faculty have put on hold for their students so that everyone in the class can use them. Loan periods are typically 2-hours.


Scholarly journal: (see "Peer-reviewed")
SEL (Science and Engineering) Library: (see "UCLA libraries")
Serial: (see "Periodical")
Special Collections: materials that are rare or archival, often one-of-a-kind, that does not circulate and must be used under special conditions in the Library Special Collections reading room.
SRLF (Southern Regional Library Facility): storage facility for UC campuses in southern California (UCLA, UCSB, UCR, UCI, and UCSD). SRLF happens to be housed at UCLA. (NRLF is housed at UC Berkeley)
Subject: (see "Subject headings")
Subject headings: words or phrases from a thesaurus or list of terms to group together material (i.e., books and articles) on the same topic.


Truncation: a "wild card" symbol. It tells the system to search for items that begin with or come in the middle of a string of characters -- e.g., child* searches for childchildrenwom?n searches for woman or womenImportant Note: Different databases may use different truncation symbols. Check the online help for details.


Unbound issues: loose periodicals which have been published separately, usually with soft paper covers. Libraries often gather them together into bound volumes.
Get it at UC: appears in discovery tools like library catalogs, databases, and Google Scholar. Clicking it allows users to: 1) easily move from an article or book citation to the actual publication online, 2) check for availability in the UC libraries, 3) request items unavailable on home campuses, or 4) ask a question using Ask a Librarian.
UCLA libraries: the individual libraries and other campus collections representing UCLA Library as a whole.
UCLA Library: the official website of UCLA Library
UC Library Search: UCLA's new discovery tool, launched July 27, 2021. It allows for easy searching of both the UCLA Library holdings and the holdings of all UC Libraries (books, articles, videos, etc.) Searches can be limited to just UCLA Library holdings.
University Archives: the official repository for non-current university records.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator): the web address of a resource or file available on the Internet.


Visible web: sometimes referred to as the "surface web," consisting of freely available sites that can be found by search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, etc.
VPN (Virtual Private Networking): A VPN is a secured private network connection built on top of publicly accessible infrastructure. The VPN provides an alternative to using the proxy server for remote access to campus resources as well as a secure method to authenticate to the campus wireless network.


Wild card: (see "Truncation")
YRL (Young Research Library): houses research-level collections in the humanities, social sciences, education, public affairs, government information, and maps, primarily designed to support graduate students and faculty.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. Adapted from: Grassian, Esther, Diane Mizrachi, and Pauline Swartz. "Glossary." The Road to Research. UCLA College Library, 2004. Web. 22 Apr. 2011. Updated by Simon Lee.