Library staff and faculty may use words that are unfamiliar to you. Below are the words you will hear most often in a library. For more words, check out the University of Illinois-Urbana University Library Glossary of Library Terms.

Atlas – A book of maps.

Author – This is the person who wrote a book or article.

Call number – This is the letter and number combination that is used to identify the location of a book on the shelf. It is like the address of the book. You can find this number pasted onto the book’s cover.

Catalog – The library catalog is online and holds information about all of the library’s books. You can search for a book on any topic using keywords. In the catalog, you will find a book’s title, author, and call number.

Checkout – This is the action to take a book home. “I would like to checkout a book” means “I would like to take this book home.”

Database – This is a central place that holds information, resources, and data. The library subscribes to several databases that you can use for your research to get good, scholarly resources for your assignments. You can also find newspaper articles, magazine articles, images, video and audio clips, and much more.

Dictionary – These books describe the meanings of words. Some dictionaries are written in more than one language and allow you to look up the English translation of a word in your language.

Due date – This is the date that you must return a book.

Encyclopedia – A large set of books (more than one volume) that contain short articles about almost any topic you can imagine. These articles will provide an overview of the topic, including key terms, dates, places, and more.

Fiction – Stories that are not true, or that never really happened.

Keyword – This is a word related to your topic that you use to search the library catalog and databases for information. For example, if you want a biography on Abraham Lincoln, the keywords would be “biography” and “Abraham Lincoln.”

Non-fiction – Stories that are true.

Renew – To check out a book again. If you already have a book checked out and you want to keep it longer, you can “renew” your book at the circulation desk.

Scholarly – A “scholarly” book or article is one that is written by an expert. It is also often reviewed by other experts in that subject (“peer-reviewed”) to make sure that the research and writing is good before it gets published.

Stacks – The shelves that hold the books that you can to checkout.

Subject – This is what the book is ABOUT. For example, the book could be about biology, math, history, or geography. Books are grouped together on the shelf according to their SUBJECT.

Title – This is the name of a book or article.