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Library Lingo

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


Peer review process

Method used by scholarly journals to assure the quality and relevance of the articles they publish. When an article is submitted, the editor sends copies to several reviewers (or "referees") who are recognized experts in the subject of the article. Each reads the article and offers an opinion on whether it is worthy of publication in the journal, using such criteria as soundness of investigative method, whether the author shows adequate knowledge of research on the subject to date, and whether the articles adds to knowledge in the field. Only if the reviewers agree that it meets the relevant criteria will the article be published.


Although the terms periodical, journal, serial and magazine have slightly different definitions, you will likely hear them used interchangeably. These are works that come out on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, annually) and contain articles written by various authors. The terms periodical and serial are more generic and refer to all types of these materials.

Periodical Index

A periodical index is a guide to the contents of periodicals. Some periodical indexes are general in coverage while others focus on a particular subject like agriculture, economics, or history. Use a periodical index to find out if there are articles about a certain topic or by a certain author.


A permanent static hyperlink to a particular web page or entry in a blog.

Phrase (Searching)

By using “quotes” you are able to group words together in a sequence. “In the beginning”

Primary Sources

Primary sources are eyewitness, personal accounts that were written at the time of an event. This can include diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, minutes of meetings, photographs, objects, etc.


Pharos is a print management system that controls computer printing and photocopying jobs, as well as scanning documents (scanning is not yet available at SAPL) and sending them to e-mail. A Pharos account must be created before using the equipment. San Antonio Public Library has Multi Functioanl Devices ( MFDs) in every library and customers have to print with these machines. MDFs and Pharos are interrelated and communicated each other.  

Public Domain

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone.


A person or company that prepares and issues books, journals, music, or other works for sale.