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Mass Media and Journalism: Library Terms

In this guide you will find a sampling of many types of research resources on the topics of media and journalism.

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Abstract -  includes not only the bibliographic information necessary to retrieve the original material, but also includes a summary - - or abstract - - of the material being indexed.  (Library…,118)

Adjacency - a term relating to the searching of an electronic database. When using adjacency in a search, you are forcing the words together to produce narrower search results. For example, if searching "Carolina(w)Tar Heels," you are stipulating that the words MUST be next to each other, rather than anywhere in the document. (UNC Chapel Hill)

Almanacs – contain miscellaneous facts and recent statistical information covering general events or specific areas, such as sports. (Library…, 118)

Annotation - is an explanatory note about the contents of an item. (Library…, 118)

Audio-visual - These are audiotapes, CDs, videotapes, DVDs, and films.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Bibliography – is a general list of citations for books or other materials usually with some relationship between them, e.g., by a given author, or a given subject or published in a given place.  (Library…, 118)

Biography – Gives information about the lives of individuals. (Library…, 118)

Call number -   An identification number which determines where a book or other material is located in the library.  (LIS 101 Textbook)   Example:  Library of Congress (LC), Dewey, Superintendent of Documents (SU DOC) (Library…, 118)

Citation – gives essential details for locating information; author, title and date of publication are items in a citation. (Library…, 118)

Class number – is the top part of a call number which stands for the subject matter of the book.  It can be a number (650 for Dewey) or letters (HF, Library of Congress).  (Library…, 118)

Classification System – is a system for organizing library materials.  Library of Congress, Dewey Decimal, and Superintendent of Documents are the three primary systems.  (Library…, 118)

Controlled Vocabulary - a set of official descriptors assigned to a particular entry in a database, illustrating the relationship between synonyms and preferred usage terms. Using controlled vocabulary to search will provide you with more focused results. Examples of controlled vocabulary include Library of Congress Subject Headings.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Copyright – is the legal right to control the production of a work.  (Library…, 118)

Corporate Body – is an organization or group of persons that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as an entity. Often a corporate body is considered an author.  (Library…, 118)

Cross-reference – is a reference from one term or word to another word or term. (Library…, 119)

 Cutter numbers – Named after a man named Charles Cutter.  Cutter numbers help librarians identify the author of a work and in some cases a second “Cutter” will be used for the title.   Also referred to as a book number.

 Database – is an organized collection of records that is stored in computer readable modes. (Library…, 119)

 Depository Libraries – are those libraries legally designated to house government publications for public access.

 Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) – Divides knowledge into ten main classes, with further sub-divisions, accompanied by decimal  notation. Example:  658.05 H 231   (Library…, 119)

Dictionary – Provides information about words, their spelling, meaning pronunciation, where they came from and how they are used.  The words or phrases are entered alphabetically letter-by-letter.  Other handbook type information may be found.  (Library…, 119)

Directory – is a listing of names or organizations giving addresses and telephone numbers for individuals and addresses, officers, functions, and similar data for organizations.  (Library…, 119)

Dissertation - a lengthy, written study of a specialized subject, specifically submitted for a doctorate.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

E Indexes and Databases - online tools that index, abstract, or provide electronic access to articles, books, dissertations and other types of content. Many of these databases offer limited full text.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

E-Journals - online, full-text journals to which the library subscribes.   (UNC Chapel Hill)

Encyclopedia – is a reference book which gives a broad overview of a subject through brief articles giving information about important people, places and events.  (Library…, 119)

Field - A part of a record used for a particular category of data. For instance, the title field displays the title for each record in the online catalog.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Folios - oversized volumes that have their own shelving areas. (UNC Chapel Hill)

Gazetteer – is a geographical dictionary that gives factual information about places.  (Library…, 119)

Government Document – is any material produced, financed, and distributed by a government agency at the local, stat, national, or international level.  (Library…, 119)

Guidebooks or Travel Guides – give descriptive information about places of interest.  (Library…, 119)

Handbook – provides quick and easy-to-get-to facts covering a special subject.)  (Library…, 119)

Index – is an alphabetical listing of the subjects discussed in a work with corresponding page numbers.  It is also a separate publication which lists information found in other sources. (Library…, 119)

Interlibrary Loan – is a transaction in which one library lends material, or a copy of material, to another library. (Library…, 119)

Internet -  a system of interconnected networks that electronically links computers from around the world. (UNC Chapel Hill)

Journal – is a scholarly periodical usually issued at regular intervals and reporting original research. (Library…,120.)

Library of Congress Classification (LC) – arranges the items in twenty-one (21) main classes using alpha-numeric characters.  Example:  BF 721.P63.  (Library …, 120)

Magazine – A periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.  (Young,137.)

Manual – is a reference book of rules for guidance or instruction in how to perform a task, process, etc.  (Library…, 120)

Manuscript - unpublished written documents, such as diaries or letters, or an author's original copy of a work.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

MARC Record – Electronic form used by catalogers that assigns numbered fields that the database then arranges into the format you see on the public screen.

Media -  materials such as VHS, DVDs, films, audiotapes and CDs, that require special equipment to be used. (UNC Chapel Hill)

Microform – is a general term applied to all forms of microreproduction on film, e.g., microfilm, microfiche, microcard.  (Library…, 120)

Monograph - a scholarly writing, usually of essay or book length on a narrow subject.  (UNC Chapel Hill

Nesting -  in Boolean searching, a set of search terms arranged sequentially within a larger set; the order in which terms are set may determine the nature of the retrieved results. An example of nesting is: (humans and (genetic engineering or cloning).  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Online Catalog - an online database containing records of the materials owned by the libraries.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Peer Review - the process by which articles are chosen to be included in a refereed journal. An editorial board consisting of experts in the same field as the author review the article and decide if it is authoritative enough for publication.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Periodical – Usually appears at regular intervals, each issue of which is numbered or dated consecutively and normally contains separate articles.  These may be called magazines, journals, or serials. (Library…, 120)

Periodical Index – is a subject index to a group of periodicals. (Library…, 120)

PDF (Portable Document Format) - a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to someone else. PDFs can be read by any computer (Macintosh, Windows or UNIX) without platform conflicts.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Popular Magazines -  serials that target general audiences with popular or current news stories. Authors are not usually scholars in a specific discipline and do not conduct original research. These articles are not peer-reviewed.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Primary Sources - records of events described or recorded by someone who either participated in or witnessed the events or who got their information from others who did. Examples include newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, notebooks, and interviews.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Proximity - a term related to searching an electronic database. By designating proximity between two terms, you are commanding the system to retrieve documents which contain the terms close to each other. For example, if you search for  "cancer(3n)treatment," cancer and treatment must be within 3 words of each other.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Record - A collection of related data, arranged in fields and treated as a unit. The complete information for each item in the Online Catalog is considered a record.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Reference Book – is designed by its arrangement and treatment to be consulted for authoritative information.  (Library…, 120)

Reference Interview – The interpersonal communication between a reference staff member and a library user to determine the precise information needs of the user. Synonymous with question negotiation.  (Young...1983)

Scholarly/Professional Journal -  journals that present in-depth, original research in a specific field. These articles have been reviewed by other scholars in the field for scholastic standards and validity. Professional journals may also contain profession or industry related news.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Secondary Sources -  sources that record the words of someone who didn't actually witness or participate in an event, but rather investigated the primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include books and journal articles.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

“See” reference - refers you from a heading that is not used to one that is.  (Library…, 120)

 Serial – A publication issued on a continuing basis at regular stated intervals.   (Library…, 120)

Stacks - the area of the library where books and bound periodicals are shelved. These are items that can be checked out of the library.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Subheading  is a secondary heading added to a subject heading to divide the entries under the subject.  (Library…, 120) Example:  Ireland – Description and travel.

Subject Heading – Basically, the term that represents the subject matter of a book.

Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) Classification – is an alpha-numberic classification for U.S. government documents.  The Sudoc classification arranges documents by issuing agency instead of subject matter.  Example:  EP 1.2:B 41 (an EPA document.  (Library…, 120)

Thesaurus - a book of concepts and terms with their synonyms often restricted to a specialized field or subject.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Title Page – is the first important printed page of the book, which contains the author, title, publisher, place and date of publication.  (Library…, 121)

Truncation -a symbol included in the middle or at the end of a word to include possible variations in spelling and alternate endings when searching an electronic database. For example, if searching for information on society, you could enter the phrase "societ?" to search society, society's, societies, and societal. Common truncation symbols include *, ?, and #. It is best to consult the help guide for each database when searching. (UNC Chapel Hill)

World Wide Web - the part of the internet that allows easier navigation of the network by web browsers (such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator), graphics and hypertext links between different pages.  (UNC Chapel Hill)

Yearbooks – are published annually to cover the events during that particular year as a supplement to previous publications or an annual publication or associations, organizations, or institutions.  (Library…, 121)


Library Science 101 Guide, Spring 1998.

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill  Library Research Tutorial

Young, Heartsill Ed. ALA Glossary.  Chicago:  American Library Association.  1983.



Subject Guide

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Grace Jackson-Brown
Missouri State University
Duane G. Meyer Library
Springfield, Missouri