Library glossary

From Helpful
Jump to: navigation, search
This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

General library terms, cataloguing terms, library automation terms

More classical terms

  • AACR: Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
    • a list of rules often followed when creating records in a cataloguing system
    • apparently based on ISBD (verify)
    • AACR2 / 'AACR II': ...Second Edition [1] [2]
    • AACR3 is the informal name for the next, currently future version (expected in 2009), which is more formally titled Resource Description and Access (RDA) [3].
  • Added entries - See Main entry
  • Bath profile is a set of conventions that makes Z39.50 more interoperable when adhered to [4] [5]


  • Call number: basically the thing on the spine of the book. (see also below)


  • Cataloguing rules/manuals: the set of rules followed when entering an item into a catalogue.
See e.g. AACR2, and also various others like LCRI, ISBD, USBD, APPM, GIHC, a library's own authority records, etc.
See also
  • Cataloging record: The information historically shown on a catalogue card. Often a bibliographic record (see record types below), but may contain most any other information related to a resource.


  • Dublin core:


  • ISBD: International Standard Bibliographic Description [6] [7] (see cataloguing rules, and also AACR)
  • Main entry, added entries: Back in the time of paper catalog, when cards represented entries, it was be sensible to have one real entry, and have entries for alternative titles, alternative authors and such refer to that one main entry card, amongst other reasons to avoid having to change information in more than one place. This model is still used in various electronic catalogues.


  • Microform', Microfilm, Microfiche: Microform is the general term referring to content recorded on film at reduced size. Two common forms are microfiche sheets (often 4" by 6" or 3" by 5") and the reel-based microfilm. (verify)
also known as 'the thing TV shows show when to depict someone digging into the archives, because it's visual and feels old'
  • Monographs:
In the library context (cf. serials)
any non-serial publication (mostly books, especially by count)
sometimes including very finite serial ones (e.g. an encyclopedia).
(Outside of library context, it often refers to an academic publication on a single subject or person, often in a complete or authoritative sense)


  • OPAC: Online Public Access Catalog, often just 'online catalog' (Regularly, but not necessarily used to refer to public library catalogs meant for end users).


  • Record types: the types of data a metadata record can store. MARC mentions the following as concepts (and can store them):
    • Bibliographic record: physical and intellectual characteristics of a resource
    • Classification record: (could be seen as a semantic extension of a bibliographic record)
    • Holding record: copy-specific information on a library resource such as call number, shelf location, and/or volumes held
    • Community record: can be used to describes individuals (details such as expertise), organizations, (public) services, public places, associations, agencies, and also event information like a lecture, concert (series), celebration, regular meeting, or such.
    • Authority file/records: shows the preferred form of author names, place names, corporate names, and other names; titles; regions; terms; subject headings; uniform/series titles, and such. (...or, a little more generally, the indexing decisions made by cataloguers, to use consistent forms (optionally taking them from elsewhere for further consistency) for thing that could appear in various spellings/forms (authors, subjects, etc.). Meant primarily to be used when when cataloguers create or revise item records.
See e.g. [8] [9]


  • Repository: a store of information, usually without a search index or search interface worth mentioning
these days often meaning digital
  • Serials: serial publications, includes things such as journals, magazines, and newspapers. (cf. monographs)
  • Subject headings: Also related to the physical catalogue days, in that a controlled set of subject headings would mean related items could be placed in the same spot in the catalog, and with predictable behaviour around synonyms and such.

Around online, federated search and repositories

  • Crosswalk: a mapping between metadata record types standards


  • Federated search: the simultaneous search in multiple, often remote databases.
some use this term interchangably with metasearch, while others point out differences such as that metasearch focuses more on merging results, while federated search is often focused on searching in databases that are licensed and not available in other ways.
Database, Target, Source and probably some other terms are use for remote and possibly federated sources of information. Compare with 'repository', which you can have a copy of.
Can be merely bibliographical, offering only citation data, or be part of a library that offers the books, a database of full-text articles, or some mix of this.


  • Gray literature: Literature that cannot easily enter mainstream distribution/subscription, and historically was hard to locate, but may sometimes still be popularly cited because of its specialized and often quite recent nature. Grey literature includes white papers, preprints, technical reports, and working papers, and may come form research groups, committees, government agencies, and such. Also refers to items that were never published, be it officially or at all. [10]
  • Hidden web: A term used to refer primarily to online content that not searchable via general web search
...usually because it is licensed.
The metadata may well be public, but the documents are not.


  • MARC and MARCXML: Formats that metadata may be transferred in. Note that the name MARC groups many specific MARC implementations.
  • MARC8: A character encoding used in some MARC formats. [11]
  • MXG (Metasearch XML Gateway): A gateway to ease [metasearch]] / federated search, (strongly) preferring SRU
  • OPAC: Online Public Access Catalog, often just 'online catalog' (Regularly, but not necessarily used to refer to public library catalogs meant for end users). Note there is also a record format named OPAC(verify); see below.
  • OpenSearch: A search-and-present protocol [12]
  • OpenURL [13]: a metadata standard for citation data coded (usually in a URL), to be parsed by an OpenURL resolver, which sends users to appropriate services for a particular library's users. It brings resolving closer to the user in the currently license-segregated world of full-text.


  • OAI: 'Open Archives Initiative' [14], known for things like
    • OAI-PMH: 'Protocol for Metadata Harvesting', mostly used to transfer repository content. [15]
    • OAI-ORE: Object Reuse and Exchange
    • ResourceSync: large-scale synchronisation [16]; also Z39.99


  • Repository: a store of information, usually without a search index or search interface worth mentioning


  • SRU: A search-and-present protocol [17]
  • SRW: An adaptation of SRU that works over SOAP


  • Z39.50: A search-and-present protocol [18]