Libraries have a language all their own. Below are some terms and acronyms that you are likely to encounter as you serve on the library board.
ACCESS - Availability of the library and its services to residents of an area served. In a larger sense, the ability to obtain sources of information through a library and its links to other sources.
ACCREDITED LIBRARY SCHOOL - A university offering a library education program for a master’s degree in library science that meets the standards of the American Library Association and is officially accredited by a committee of ALA.
ACQUISITIONS - The activities related to obtaining library materials by purchase, exchange, gift, or other means.
ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities and impacts libraries as service providers and as employers.
AEA - Area Education Agencies. They provide support services to schools.
ALA - American Library Association. The national association serving the interests of libraries.
ALMANAC - A publication, usually annual, containing a variety of useful facts and statistics, current and past. Almanacs may be general (World Almanac and Book of Facts) or related to a specific field or discipline (Almanac of American Politics).
ARCHIVES - 1) The organized body of non-current records of an organization which are preserved because of their continuing value. 2) The depository itself.
ATTACHMENT - A file of any type linked to an e‑mail message so that the two are transmitted together to the desired e-mail address.
AUDIO BOOK - A book read aloud and recorded on audiotape or compact disc (CD), usually by a professional actor or reader or by the author. Synonymous with book-on-tape, recorded book, and talking book.
AUDIO DOWNLOAD - A data file containing recorded sound available over the Internet for transmission to a network user's computer
AUDIO-VISUAL - A generic term for non-print materials such as video recordings, audio recordings, and computer software. Synonymous with media.
BANNED BOOK - A book whose production, distribution, circulation, or sale has been prohibited or suppressed because its content is considered objectionable or dangerous.
BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORDS - Cataloging information used to describe and access an item.
BOOK PROCESSING - The activities for preparing books for use, including putting on jackets, labels, barcodes and stamping ownership marks. Part of technical services or processing.
BOOKS AND MATERIALS SELECTION - The process of deciding what to buy for the library. Selection is based on a policy adopted by the library board, the goals and objectives of the library, use of selection guides, funds available and the skill of the library staff in meeting local needs. Materials include all types: books, periodicals, downloadable audio books, computer software, compact disks, DVDs, electronic databases, etc.
CALL NUMBERS - The classification number on an item of library material used to mark the item, shelve it properly, list it in the catalog and find it for a user. Most public libraries use the Dewey Decimal system.
CATALOG - Bibliographic records created according to specific, uniform principles of construction which describes the materials in a collection, a library, or a group of libraries. For most Iowa libraries, it is an online catalog.
CATALOGER - A librarian who performs descriptive or subject cataloging and may also perform related tasks such as classifying or creating a shelflist.
CATALOGING - The process of physically describing library materials, for example, a book so that it can be listed in a catalog and located on a shelf for use by patrons.
CD - Compact Disc. A high capacity storage device using laser technology to read data in digital form.
CD-ROM - Compact Disc-Read Only Memory. A permanent file in compact disk format.
CE - Continuing Education.
CENSORSHIP - Prohibition of the production, distribution, circulation, or display of a work on grounds that it contains objectionable material. The person who determines what is to be prohibited or prevented from being published is known as a censor.
CIRCULATION - Statistics showing use of the library by a count of materials checked out; the library department or area which receives returned material and checks out material to the user.
CIRCULATION SYSTEM - The policies and procedures used in a library for lending materials to users and keeping records of the loans.
CITATION - A note referring to a published work from which a passage is quoted or to some source as authority for a statement or proposition.
CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM - A system for arranging books and other materials according to subject or form. Dewey Decimal Classification is the system most commonly used by public libraries.
COLLECTION - A one-word term for the library’s total holdings, the books, videos, CDs, pictures, etc. which make up the materials the library has on hand for its users.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT - A term which covers the activities related to managing the library collection: setting selection policy, assessing user needs, studying collection use, selecting materials, maintaining the collection, weeding, etc.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT POLICY - A formal written statement of the principles guiding a library's selection of new materials, including its policies concerning gifts and weeding.
COPYRIGHT - The exclusive privilege of publishing and selling a work granted by a government to an author, composer, artist, publisher, etc. Libraries have a special interest in fair use of copyrighted material.
DATABASE - A systematic organization of information stored in a computer file for searching and retrieval.
DEPOSITORY LIBRARY - A library which is legally designated to receive free copies of all or selected government publications and make them available to the public.
DEWEY DECIMAL CLASSIFICATION - A subject classification system for books developed by Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) that divided all knowledge into ten classes arranged in numeric sequence and further divided by a decimal system.
EBSCOhost - a Web‑based information resource which includes full text magazines, newspapers and reference tools. Access to EBSCOhost is made possible through a partnership between Iowa Library Services and Iowa's Area Education Agencies. Funding is provided by your local library and Iowa Library Services using federal Library Services and Technology Act dollars.
E-MAIL - Electronic mail. Messages sent through a communications network from one computer to another.
E-MAIL SIGNATURE - The tag‑line at the end of e-mail messages. For example, e-mail software can automatically list the sender’s name, phone number, and e‑mail address at the bottom of every message.
FAIR USE - The special conditions (such as criticism, news, teaching, or research) under which all or portions of a copyrighted work may be reproduced without infringing upon the copyright laws.
FIBER OPTICS - A communications system which uses very thin strands of glass to conduct information coded in pulses of light. The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) is a fiber optics based system (in which libraries participate) used to transmit voice, data and video.
FICTION - From the Latin “fictio,” "to make" or "to counterfeit." Prose literary works portraying characters and events created in the imagination of the writer to entertain and expand the reader's experience. In historical fiction, characters and events usually bear some relationship to what actually happened, but the dialogue is reconstructed or imagined by the author.
FILE - Any organized collection of data, documents, or records.
FIRSTSEARCH - An collection of reference databases offered by OCLC that provides records and some fulltext for books, articles, theses, films, computer software, and other types of material. The Iowa Library Services pays for a statewide license for FirstSearch enabling local libraries to take advantage of this resource.
FLOOR LOAD CAPACITY - The weight of material that a floor can safely accommodate. Of special importance in areas holding library stacks.
FLSA - Fair Labor Standards Act (federal). Establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor standards.
FORMAT - Refers to the overall physical appearance of any printed document or publication, including its size, proportions, quality of paper, typography, illustrations, and style of binding. In a broader sense, the sum of the physical characteristics of any print or non-print document.
GENRE - A type or class of literature. In fiction, genre are based on form (novel, novelette, short story, etc.) and theme (mystery, romance, fantasy, science fiction, western, etc.).
GLOSSARY - An alphabetical list of terms concerned with a particular subject or area of interest, together with definitions.
GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT - Any publication, whether in book, serial or non-book form, bearing the imprint of a federal, state, local, or foreign government or of an intergovernmental organization.
HARDWARE - The bolts, nuts, boards, chips, wires, transformers, circuits, etc. in a computer - the physical components of a computer system.
HOLDINGS - The total stock of materials (print and non-print) owned by a library; synonymous in this sense with library collection.
HOMEPAGE - The first or main page of a website.
HTML (HYPERTEXT MARK UP LANGUAGE) - The standard format used to create hypertext documents for users of the World Wide Web.
HYPERTEXT- A method of organizing data in an electronic file or database in such a way that sources can be interlinked. Hypertext is the basic organizing principle of the World Wide Web.
ICN - Iowa Communications Network; a fiber optics network designed to transmit voice, video and data.
ILA - Iowa Library Association; the association serving the interests of Iowa libraries.
ILAF - Iowa Library Association Foundation.
ILL - Interlibrary loan
ILOMS - Iowa Libraries of Medium Size.
ILTA - Iowa Libraries Trustee Association.
INTEGRATED LIBRARY SYSTEM - A group of automated library subsystems working together and communicating within the same set or system of software to control such activities as circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and serial control.
INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM - The American Library Association defines intellectual freedom as “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question cause or movement may be explored.”
INTERLIBRARY LOAN - Originally, one library borrowing from another in order to serve the user. Now, a system of interlibrary cooperation which allows libraries to obtain information and materials for their users no matter which library owns it.
INTERNET - An international system of computer networks which enables users to communicate via e‑mail, find information on the World Wide Web, transfer data and program files, and access remote computer systems such as library catalogs.
INVENTORY - 1) Checking the library collection against the shelflist to determine missing items. 2) The physical listing of all records or documents in a collection.
IPERS - Iowa Public Employees Retirement System. The principal purpose of IPERS is to provide an adequate retirement plan for public employees.
ISBN - International Standard Book Number. A unique identification number printed in books by international agreement.
ISLA - Iowa Small Library Association, a subdivision of ILA.
IUPLA - Iowa Urban Public Libraries Association.
JOBBER - A wholesale book supplier who supplies many titles from different publishers and sells them to libraries and retailers.
KEYWORD - A word used during an information retrieval search to find a particular word in an author, title, abstract or subject field. This is especially useful when the word is not used as a recognized subject term within the index being searched.
LISTSERV - An e‑mail discussion forum which allows participants to subscribe and automatically receive messages posted to the list by other subscribers. Participants may also post their own messages and replies which are automatically disseminated to the other subscribers to the list. “LISTSERV” is actually a brand of software that runs e-mail discussion groups. The preferred term for an e-mail discussion group is “mail list.”
LAN - Local area network. A local area network links computers and other devices within a library. A LAN enables all users on the network to communicate and to share resources such as computer files and printers.
LC - Library of Congress. The unofficial national library of the U.S. which serves Congress and provides many services to all types of libraries.
LIBRARIAN - A person responsible for the care of a library and its contents, including the selection, organization, and processing of materials, and the delivery of information, instruction, and loan services to meet the needs of its users.
LIBRARY 2.0 - Library 2.0 is a loosely defined model for library service that reflects a transition within the library world in the way that services are delivered to users. The focus is on user-centered change and participation in the creation of content and community. The concept of Library 2.0 borrows from that of Business 2.0 and Web 2.0 and follows some of the same underlying philosophies.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS - The library in Washington, D.C. which serves the U.S. Congress and other libraries. LC does cataloging while books are in the publication process so that cataloging information can be available as soon as the book is purchased by libraries.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CLASSIFICATION - A subject classification system for books devised by the LC that divides knowledge into 21 subject areas and has a notation of letters and figures that allows for expansion. It is used mostly in academic and special libraries.
LJ - Library Journal. A professional journal widely read by librarians.
LSTA - Library Services and Technology Act. Through the Grants to States program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides federal LSTA funds Iowa Library Services, using a population-based formula. In Iowa, LSTA funds are used primarily to support statewide library development initiatives and services such as summer library program; developing the skills of Iowa library directors and staff to serve Iowans; statewide access to online reference databases such as EBSCOhost and FirstSearch; SILO interlibrary; Iowa Center for the Book; standards for public libraries.
MAILLIST - An e‑mail discussion forum which allows participants to subscribe and automatically receive messages posted to the list by other subscribers. Participants may also post their own messages and replies which are automatically disseminated to the other subscribers to the list.
MARC - MAchine Readable Cataloging. An international standard digital format for bibliographic information that allows a computer, to read and manipulate the information. MARC records are the basis for automated catalogs and were originally developed by the Library of Congress.
MEDIA - A generic term for non-print materials such as video recordings, audio recordings, DVDs, CDs, and computer software. Synonymous with audio-visual.
MICROFILM - A continuous roll of photographic film, used to store miniaturized text which can be magnified and copied only with the aid of a reader‑printer machine
MICROFICHE - A card‑shaped sheet of photographic film, usually 4x6 or 3x5 inches in size, used to store miniaturized text in a grid pattern which can be magnified and copied only with the aid of a microform reader‑printer machine.
MICROFORM - A generic term for any medium which contains miniaturized records, such as microfilm or microfiche.
MLS - Master’s degree in Library Science. The graduate degree for a professional librarian.
NON-FICTION - Prose works portraying events which actually occurred and characters or phenomena which actually exist, or which existed in the past. In libraries which use Dewey Decimal classification, nonfiction is shelved by call number.
NON-PRINT MATERIALS - Any library materials which do not come within the definition of a book, periodical, pamphlet, or other printed material and which require special handling, such as audio-visual items, microforms, and computer software.
OCLC - Online Computer Library Center, Inc. is a nonprofit membership organization offering computer-based services to libraries, other-educational organizations, and their users. The OCLC Online Union Catalog is the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of bibliographic information. This shared database supports cataloging and interlibrary loan.
ONLINE SEARCH - A literature search of databases through a computer, usually performed by an online searcher as a part of reference service.
OP - Out of Print - The term used for a book which the publisher no longer stocks and no longer intends to print.
OPAC - Online Public Access Catalog. An electronic library catalog for the public connected directly to the library computer files. Public access can be in the library and/or remote via the Internet.
OSHA - Occupational Safety & Health Act. The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to save lives, prevent injuries and protect the health of America's workers.
PC - Personal Computer. Generic term for a microcomputer.
PERIODICAL - A type of serial publication which is issued regularly and generally more frequently than annually, each issue of which is numbered and dated consecutively and contains separate stories, articles, and other writings. For example, a magazine.
PERIODICAL INDEX - A subject index to a group of periodicals, most of which is online (an example is The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature).
PLA - Public Library Association. A division of the American Library Association focused on public libraries.
PLOW – Putting Libraries on the Web; PLOW is a program of the Iowa Library Services which has provided websites to approximately 300 Iowa public libraries.
PROCESSING - Preparing books and other materials to be made available to the library’s users. Some materials are ordered pre-processed or ready for the shelf. Processing may include cataloging, bar codes, stamping ownership marks and attaching protective covers.
PUBLIC LIBRARY - A library or library system which provides general library services and unrestricted access without charge to all residents of a given community, district, or geographic region, and is supported wholly or in part by public funds.
RANGE - One row of several sections of single- or double-faced shelving or book-cases; a component of the stacks.
READER’S ADVISORY - A service to library users where library staff, familiar with reading needs and interests, advise or recommend specific titles to users; reader’s advisory also involves compiling reading lists by genre, theme, or subject.
READY OR QUICK REFERENCE - A part of reference service concerned with questions of a factual nature which can be answered readily, often from dictionaries, almanacs, directories, and other standard sources.
REFERENCE COLLECTION - Library books such as dictionaries and encyclopedias shelved together in a special location known as the reference stacks. The size of reference collections is shrinking as a result of more information being provided electronically.
REFERENCE SERVICE - The various kinds of professional assistance, including ready or quick reference and online searching, provided to library users in their pursuit of information.
REFERENCE INTERVIEW - The interpersonal communication between a reference staff member and a library user to determine the precise information needs of the user.
RETROCON - Retrospective Conversion. The process of converting information from traditional catalog cards to an electronic format. Usually called retrospective because it involves previously-cataloged material.
RFP - Request for proposal. The document issued to advertise for vendor proposals, such as automation, equipment and/or software. Usually the RFP contains detailed specifications of the goods or services wanted.
SELECTION POLICY - The policy adopted by the board for deciding which materials should be added to a library collection. The selection policy is part of the collection development policy.
SERIAL - Any publication (periodicals, newspapers, annuals, journals, transactions of societies, numbered monographic series, and all other publications in any medium) issued in successive parts and bearing numerical or chronological descriptions.
SERIES - A group of separately published works issued in succession by a single publisher, usually related in subject, each of which bears, in addition to its own title, a collective or series title which applies to the group as a whole.
SERVICE RESPONSE - What a library does for, or offers to, the public in an effort to meet specific community needs.
SHELF READING OR READING SHELVES - The examination of the arrangement of books, etc., on the shelves to assure the material is in order.
SHELF LIST - An inventory of items as they appear on the library shelf.
SHELF READ - Physically checking the shelves to make certain the books are in the proper location, and reshelving books to their proper places.
SILO - State of Iowa Libraries Online - is a joint program of Iowa Library Services and Iowa State University. SILO offers resource sharing services, including the Iowa Locator and SILO Interlibrary Loan, to all types of libraries in Iowa. SILO also provides DNS, e-mail, and Web hosting services to Iowa's public libraries.
SILO LOCATOR - A location tool for materials owned by libraries in Iowa, available on SILO.
SOCIAL NETWORKING - Social networking focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.
SOFTWARE - The programs that tell the computer what to do (calculate numbers, make a mailing list, etc.).
SPECIAL INFORMATION NEEDS - Needs inherent to a population group such as preschoolers, teenagers, or senior citizens. For example, preschoolers need short active programs to keep their attention. Senior citizens may need large print materials or outreach. Teenagers need privacy, a sense of belonging, and dislike being treated as children.
STACKS - The area in which a series of book-cases or sections of shelving are arranged in rows or ranges and used for the storage of the library’s collections.
STANDING ORDER - An order placed by a library with an agent or publisher to supply each succeeding issue, volume, or part of a serial or series as it is published, until further notice.
SUBJECT HEADING - A word or group of words indicating a subject under which all material dealing with the same theme is entered in a catalog, bibliography, or index, or arranged in a file.
TECHNICAL SERVICES OR PROCESSING - All the activities related to obtaining, organizing, and processing library items and maintaining them with repairs.
TITLE PAGE - The page at the beginning of a book which states the title, author’s name, edition, and imprint.
TURNKEY LIBRARY SYSTEM - A complete information processing system provided by a vendor, including hardware, software, installation, and training.
UNION LIST - A list of holdings for a given group of libraries of materials of a given type, in a certain field, or on a particular subject.
UNION CATALOG - Periodicals, books or other library materials owned by a number of libraries which combine their holdings in one catalog. The SILO Locator is an example of a union catalog.
UNITED FOR LIBRARIES – ALA subdivision for Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations.
WEB PAGE - An electronic document accessible via the World Wide Web, usually one of a group of related pages comprising a website.
WEBSITE - A location on the World Wide Web that provides 24‑hour access to one or more interlinked pages which collectively represent the organization, company, individual, or work.
WEEDING - Removing books and other library materials no longer up-to-date or useful to the users of the library. Weeding keeps a collection current and attractive, makes way for new material and provides ongoing evaluation of the library’s material and its use.
WORLD WIDE WEB (WWW) - Interface for accessing the global network of information available on computers of all types and sizes which are connected to the Internet.
URL - Uniform Resource Locator, the unique address that identifies the specific location of a resource on the Internet. For example, the url for the Iowa Library Services is http://www.statelibraryofiowa.org/ is.
YSS – Youth Services Subdivision of the Iowa Library Association.
The American Library Association, http://ala.org
ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, Libraries Unlimited by Joan M. Reitz. http://lu.com/odlis/search.cfm