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Homepage: Library terms demystified

Library Glossary



A brief summary of the content or essence of a book, article, speech, report, or dissertation, usually located before the beginning of an article. (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms)


A brief, but detailed, composition on a topic usually published in a magazine or journal. (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms)



A full list of materials, (usually other books and journal articles) which an author has looked at when researching their work. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)



Database of all items, books, journals etc. held in the library. (Nottingham)


A reference to a specific piece of work (e.g. a book or journal article) used by another author within the text of their own writing (e.g. essay or dissertation). This is to make it clear that another original source has been used. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)

Clinical Librarian

A qualified member of library staff who provides high quality information to health professionals at the point of need to support clinical decisions and patient care.

Clinical Outreach Librarian

A librarian whose job involves both clinical and outreach librarian roles


The legal right granted to an author, editor, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work. This legal right will limit what can be copied or quoted from any published work. (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms)

Critical appraisal

The process of systematically examining research evidence to assess its validity, results and relevance before using it to inform a decision.

Current awareness

Alerting services, also known as current awareness services or auto alerts, help users keep up to date with the latest developments in their field by notifying them when new information becomes available. (University of Leeds



An electronic collection of information which you can search to find out about a particular subject. (Nottingham)

Discovery search

An online single searching interface that allows you to search the entire library collection

DOI (Digital object identifier)

A unique identifier for an electronic document, such as a journal article, guaranteed never to change even if the URL alters.

Due date

Time and date by which an item needs to be returned to the library. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)



Electronic book, which provides the text of a book in electronic form.


Electronic journal that can be viewed on a computer or other device.

Electronic / online resources

In general, Web pages and documents on the Internet that provide useful information. While an online resource is typically data and educational in nature, any support software available online can also be considered a resource.


Reference management software that organizes bibliographies and references when writing essays, articles and other manuscripts. The software helps to manage and organize references, insert in-text citations and generate appropriate reference lists.

Enquiry desk

Service point for general enquiries including membership, borrowing and directions to collections or library services


Full text

A resource that has the entire text available online for reading and searching instead of just a citation or abstract. Full-text can be applied to a single article, an entire periodical or a database of Internet-accessible periodicals.


HDAS – Healthcare Databases Advance Search

Enables you to search across one or more of our eight [healthcare] databases – AMED, BNI, Cinahl, Embase, EMCARE, HMIC, Medline and PsycInfo. ( )


All the materials (print, non-print, and electronic) owned by a library. (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms)



A session designed to introduce you to all the services, resources and people who can help you use the Library. (

Interlibrary loan

Borrowing of items from another library when copies are unavailable at the home library


Abbreviation for International Standard Book Number, a unique 10 or 13-digit number  given to every book or edition of a book before publication to identify publisher, title, edition and volume number


Abbreviation for International Standard Serial Number, a unique 8-digit number identifying a specific periodical or journal title



A publication containing (academic) articles. Also known as periodical. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)



A significant word or phrase which you can use to search databases and online catalogues for information on specific topics. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)


The Library’s current awareness resource.  Registered users of KnowledgeShare can request regular updates containing high quality, newly published health care information, which are targeted to the user’s specific area of interest.



Website used by libraries to curate subject specific knowledge and share information about services and resources. 

Library card

Membership card issued by the library to anyone working for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, students on placement and other eligible. The Card will allow you to borrow books and other resources from the library.

Literature search

A systematic and thorough search for material already written on a specific topic. (Oxford Brookes University- Library Terminology)

Live chat / Libchat / Ask a librarian

An application that allows you to chat online with library staff.


NHS OpenAthens

Authentication system for accessing electronic resources. Registering for an OpenAthens account allows you to access BHT Library and Knowledge Service's electronic resources with one username and password.


Open access

A form of publishing in which journal articles are made openly available on the web, without having to pay to access them.


An item that has not been returned by its due date

Outreach librarian

A member of library staff who promotes and enables access to library services for new users, infrequent users, remote users and other users that might have difficulties accessing the physical library.


Peer reviewed

Means that a board of scholarly reviewers in the subject area of the journal, review materials they publish for quality of research and adherence to editorial standards of the journal, before articles are accepted for publication. If you use materials from peer-reviewed publications they have been vetted by scholars in your field for quality and importance. 


Recall notice

If another library user reserves a book you have out on loan it will be recalled

Reference book / copy

Item which may not be taken out of the library

Reference list

The full bibliographic information for each source cited in a text.  A source has to be referenced when it has been quoted directly or indirectly (paraphrasing). (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms )

Reference manager

Software that organizes bibliographies and references when writing essays, articles and other manuscripts. The software helps to manage and organize references, insert in-text citations and generate appropriate reference lists.


To extend the loan period of a book


Process that allows you to ask for a book you want when all the copies are out on loan. Also known as reservation. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)


Process allowing you to request the book you want when all other copies are out on loan


To bring back an item that you have borrowed, in a way that takes it off your library record. (University of Nottingham – Glossary of library words)


Self issue

Using a dedicated machine yourself, which allows you to issue, return and renew items.

Search term 

A word or phrase which you can use to search databases and online catalogues for information on specific topics.

Shelfmark (also class mark)

Letters and numbers that tell you where to find a book on the shelf (usually to be found on the spine)

Subject Headings

Standardised words or phrases that are added to a database record to describe what a journal article is about.



A book/ website of similar words(synonyms) and sometimes include contrasting words (antonyms). (University of Waikato – Glossary of Library Terms)

TOC (Table of contents)

List of titles of the parts of a book or document, organized in the order in which the parts appear.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

Mainly used as a web address for accessing particular webpages.


The unique set of letters and numbers which, when used in conjunction with your password, allows you access to the computer network (University of Bolton- Glossary Library Terms)