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Library Lingo

This page lists common terms, acronyms, and phrases used by libraries and librarians.

A

Abstract

A brief summary of a work which tells enough to allow a reader to decide whether or not it is relevant to their research.

Acquisition 

The process of selecting, ordering, and receiving materials for library or archival collections by purchase, exchange, or gift, which may include budgeting and negotiating with outside agencies, such as publishers, dealers, and vendors, to obtain resources to meet the needs of the public library users in the most economical and expeditious manner.

Almanac

A reference book, usually published annually, containing lists, charts and tables of useful factual and statistical information either on a wide variety of topics or a single subject.

Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography that includes a brief description of each article or book listed. The description should help the reader evaluate the content and usefulness of each item.

Anthology

A collection of works (poems, stories, articles) by various authors and collected in a single volume.

App

A self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose; an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.

Archives

Public records or historical documents, or the place where such records and documents are kept.

Atlas

An atlas is a collection of maps in book form.

Article

A contribution written for publication in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Ask Us 

A service to contact library staff by phone or email. https://ask.mysapl.org/search.php

Audiovisual

Information in a non-print format using both sight and sound, typically in the form of slides or video (DVD, Blue-Ray) and recorded speech or music. Also referred to as media.

Author

The creator of information.  The author can be the writer of a book or article but also includes directors, painters, illustrators, directors or actors.

Authority file

The computerized list of subject, series, and name headings used in the Online Catalog.

Autobiography 

An account of a person's life written by that person