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Library Lingo

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


Call Number

A combination of numbers and letters that is given to each item held in the library. The letters and numbers assigned to the work describe its subject matter and serves as its address on the shelf. The library uses the Dewey Decimal system (DDC) to assign call numbers which are located on the book’s spine.

    236.24 Heaven 2012    

Call Number vs. Subject Heading

A book, etc., only has one call number because it is used for shelf location, while an item may have multiple subject headings to describe its contents.

Catalog Record

Found in the library catalog, this includes all information on any given library item, including a description of the item, author, title, subject headings, notes, and the call number.

Circulating vs. Non-circulating

Materials that can be borrowed by library users and taken out of the library are circulating items. Library materials, such as reference books and periodicals, which can be used by customers but not taken out of the library, are non-circulating items.

Circulation Desk

Location in each library where you check out, return or renew items, ask about missing items, or inquire about fines.


A reference to a work, such as a book or a journal article. When you look at a bibliography or search an index, you retrieve citations. They provide the author, title, publication place, and year of a work and other pieces of information, such as journal title, volume and page numbers.

    Morris, Carla D., and Brad Sneed. The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree, 2007.

    Little, Edmund. "The Lord of the Rings and the Christian faith." Stimulus 9, no. 1 (February 1, 2001): 32-35.

Connect @ Central Library

Connect at Central (Connect)-  is a 12,800 square foot digital experience made possible by a Federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant. This 1.5 million grant project enabled us to make technology and broadband enhancement projects possible at 13 branch libraries as well as build the Connect Center on the fist floor at the Central Library.


The legal right to control the production, use, and sale of copies of a literary, musical, or artistic work.