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Library Lingo

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



A database is a collection of information organized for efficient retrieval. San Antonio Public Library pays for subscriptions to a variety of databases that contain articles from established periodicals and material from well-respected print reference sources.


Terms used in indexes, abstracts, or other databases/periodical indexes to describe the subjects of an article (also called subject headings).

Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC)

One of the two main classification schemes in the world used to designate a logical, numerical location for a book, etc., on a library shelf between 000 and 999. So, any book located on the shelf is related in subject matter to the one on either side of it within its class. Large university libraries use Library of Congress Classification (LCC) which is an alphanumeric (letters and numbers) system, A-Z.  However, San Antonio Public Library uses Dewey Decimal Classification System. If you need to find non-fiction Dewey Numbers refer to this guide.  


A list of persons or organizations, systematically arranged, giving address, affiliations, etc. for individuals and address, officers, functions, and similar data for organizations.


Refers to the transfer of search results into a file on a disc or drive.

Due Date

The date by which borrowed books and materials should be returned. To extend the loan period for materials, the item should be renewed before the due date so that fines are not incurred.