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Library Terminology: S-U

Discover the truth that lies behind the most Arcane Library vocabulary--- stranger than fiction!

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Search Engine: A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web. Examples of search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Secondary Sources: For librarians, bibliographic sources in which books, articles, and other primary sources are listed. In other fields of inquiry, secondary sources refer to books and articles which are written using historical record material, primary research studies, and other primary sources as sources.

Serials: are publications that are published weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually in successive order, such as journals, magazines, and periodicals. Serials include Periodicals as well as annual publications, proceedings, and transactions.

Skyline: Auraria Library's online catalog. Skyline is an electronic database listing all the materials owned by the Library. Library users can search for books, ebooks, periodical titles, government documents, maps, and audio-visual materials held by the Library. Reserve materials and circulation records may also be viewed. Skyline is available to anyone with Internet access.

Stacks: Library shelves which hold books, government documents or periodicals are called the stacks. You need the Library of Congress call number of the material to locate it in the library stacks. You can find the call number of a book in Skyline .

Style Manuals: Specialized handbooks that illustrate accepted forms for citing references in bibliographies, footnotes, endnotes and research works. Some style manuals are for general use. Others are published by professional associations as form guides for articles in journals in that field of knowledge and research.

Subject Headings: Subject headings are those words or phrases, assigned to a document or book, that contain the intellectual subject of the resource. Subject headings are used when searching by a controlled vocabulary. The most commonly used subject headings in academic libraries are those devised by the Library of Congress Classification System.

SuDocs (Superintendent of Documents) Classification System: A system of arranging federal government publications in an alpha/numerical order according to issuing government department (such as Agriculture Department, Commerce Department, etc.).


Tag: A label attached to someone or something for the purpose of identification or to give other information, these are not often standardized. 

Thesaurus:  A thesaurus is an alphabetical listing of the terms currently in use for that index. A thesaurus will also show relationships between synonyms or related terms, as well as hierarchical arrangements (broader terms, narrower terms). Specialized periodical indexes use a controlled vocabulary (a standardized word or phrase list).

Truncation: The ability to retrieve records of search terms that share a common root. In each database, some sort of symbol (a colon, an asterisk, a dollar sign) is placed at the end of the group of letters forming the root search term. Use the longest root possible to increase the accuracy of your search. For example: librar* will find library, librarian, libraries, etc.


Union Catalog: A database that contains the holdings of multiple libraries.  Example:

S is for Scriptorium scribeThe Scriptorium

"The scriptorium provided books for the monastery's own use as well as for other monasteries and ecclesiastical and political leaders. Books to be copied were borrowed from other monasteries, sometimes far away..."

Scribes could be sent for the purpose, other times texts were swapped, with monastery libraries copying titles which they did not possess in order to fill holes in the collection. Books often were not permanently bound, which allowed them to be dismembered. Broken into segments allowed multiple scribes to work at once, speeding up the copying process. Still, making manuscript copies by hand was long & tedious work. Eadbeorht, an English monk, pointed out: "those who do not know how to write do not think that it is labor; it is true that only three fingers write, but the whole body toils."

Source:  Lerner, Fred. The Story of Libraries. New York; Continuum, 1998. (pg. 46)