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Library Lingo

Do you sometimes feel lost when people use "library lingo"?
Here are some definitions of words to help you with Library Survival.

Audio-Visual:  A term used to describe the physical items found in a library which are audio-based (such as books on CD) or visual in nature (such as DVDs).

Boolean searching :  Using special commands or operators to tell a database how the words being searched relate to one another. For instance, AND will marry two terms together. OR will broaden a search. NOT will remove a concept from a search to make it more specific.

Browser:  Software that allows you to search the Internet, such as Netscape, Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Call Number: The specific combination of letters and/or numbers on the spine of a library item, which allows you to precisely track it down.

Catalog:  This is the big database which lists every single item available at the Thunder Bay Public Library. You can find these computer catalogs at each library and you can use them to look for items. You can also find the catalog online from the website and you can search for things and place holds from home or school computers too. Sometimes these are also called OPACs (online public access catalogs).

Cataloguing:  The process of getting materials ready to go out onto the shelves, including determining the Dewey Decimal number, laminating the covers, deciding on the subject listings for an items to go into the library catalog and so on. The Cataloguing Department oversees the whole process from ordering an item through to its going out on a shelf.

Check Out :  To borrow library materials for a fixed period of time (usually one week or three weeks)

Chief Librarian:  The CEO or manager of a public library system.

Circulation Desk :  The place where you can check out, return or renew library materials, or get a card or pay for photocopies or fines or other such services.

Dewey Decimal System:  Melvil Dewey's system of organizing and classifying library materials. It uses a numeric system to designate basic subjects, and sub-categories to be more specific within theses subjects. For instance, the Dewey Decimal Number for Space is 520. The Number for 523.43. The Number for Comets is 523.6.

E*vents: The online booking software which allows persons to see a calendar of library events on our web pages, and also allows one to sign up for any of those events from home.

Fines:  A fee charged for keeping library materials past their due date.
Government Documents:  Publications held at a library which were created by a government or government agency, including reports, treaties, periodicals, statistics, hearings etc.

Graphic Novel:  Alternate name for comic books. Sometimes used to specifically refer to comics that are not about superheroes or manga, but can include all types of comics.


SandmanBunny Drop

Batman: Year One

Holds:  The process which reserves an item for the person who places the hold, so that when it is available they will be alerted to that fact and can come to the library to sign it out.

Holdings:  All the materials owned by a library, both in print, audio-visual and electronic format.

ILLO or Inter-Library Loan:  A service whereby persons can request to borrow a book which is not owned by the Thunder Bay Public Library but is owned by another library elsewhere who will mail it to TBPL for that person to read.
Journal:  A publication which is printed periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly) devoted to specific subjects. It usually contains scholarly or academic articles written by experts in that subject. For instance, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Keyword:  A word used in a searching a database or library catalog to describe a main subject word found in a title, author's name, series title or subject field.

Kiosk: The various stations within each library where you will find a computer you can use to find out if the library has an item or not, and where you can find it.

Librarian:  Used in a generic sense it means someone who works in a library. Used in its accurate sense, it is professional classification for one type of library worker. At TBPL, librarians are the staff persons who have a Masters degree in Library and Information Science.

MJLB: Stands for Mary J. L. Black and usually designates the Mary J.L.Black Branch Library. The name honours Miss Black, who was Fort William's first Chief Librarian.

Microfilm:  A material for copying paper information to be preserved for future viewing. Rolls of microfilm are available at the Brodie Resource Library for Thunder Bay's newspapers. These rolls, which date back to the 1800s, can be viewed on special microfilm readers at the Library.

Night Drop: A slot or "drawer" on the outside of each library which allows persons to return library materials during hours when the library is closed.

Non-fiction:  Books or media which are factual or information-based in nature.

OPAC :  Acronym used for library catalogs. (see catalog)

OverDrive: A library service which allows a person to download whole books to their IPOD (available through the library catalog).Listen to spoken word audiobooks on your computer or transfer to a variety of portable devices, including the iPod®.

Overdue:  A checked-out items which has been kept past its due date.

Patron:  A library-term for library users or customers like yourself.

PC Booking: The process of reserving a library computer for a user for an hour.

Periodical:  A document which is produced on a periodic basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly) such as a magazine or a journal.

PIN: An acronym for a Personal Identification Number which, combined with your library card number, allows you to access databases from the library's virtual collection.

Playaways: A specific collection of audio-books which can be borrowed at your library. They are a unique format (about the size of a deck of cards), and work by your putting a AAA battery in the unit and plugging in your ear buds.
Range : The whole length of shelving, including however many bays of shelves constitute one row.

Readers' Advisory: Advice from librarians and library staff about what might be good to read. This is either done in person, or through booklists, online suggestions or reviews.

Record:  Each item in a database, or library catalog.

Reference Material:  A document (print or electronic) such as a dictionary, encyclopedia or glossary which provides specific facts or data.

Renew:  The process of extending the borrowing period for an item which has been borrowing from the library, but which you would like to use for a longer time than the initial one week or three weeks.

Resource Library: A designation for the Brodie and the Waverley libraries which means that these locations can be expected to have the widest collections of resources (books, audiobooks, research materials, DVDs etc.). This is distinct from a Branch Library which is a smaller site and has smaller collections of most, but not all, items.

RSS:  This stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is a tool that allows you to collect news and postings from newspapers, blogs, magazines etc. and read them in one place. Popular examples are Google Reads and Bloglines.

Secondary Source:  Interpretations and commentaries on primary sources.

Shelf-reading: Looking at the items on a shelf and making sure that everything is in the correct order. Fixing those that are out-of-place.

Shelving:  Returning items to the library shelves.

Special Collections: A collection of rare, and locally-relevant items which is housed in a temperature-controlled storage area for preservation. At TBPL, the Special Collections are at the Brodie Resource Library.
Sample item: Old Photograph of CNR workers  image 
Spine: The edge of a book which faces out on a shelf and contains the book title and call number.

Stacks:  The areas where materials are shelved at the library.

TBPL:  Short for the Thunder Bay Public Library, but you knew that, right?

YA or Young Adult Area:  A specific area at each library where materials of particular interest to teens can be found (magazines, audio-books, books, graphic novels etc.)

Hear a term you are wondering about? Send your suggestions for updating this glossary to tbpl%23ca|teens

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