Glossary of library terms

Confused by some of the terms you encounter when using the library? Have a look at this short A-Z guide to some of the library language you may hear at Westminster.

Academic Liaison Librarian
The librarian who supports your course. Find out about the Academic Liaison Librarian for your faculty.

Archives
An archive is a store of items which record the work of an individual or an organisation.

Article
A piece of writing in a newspaper, journal or other publication.

Ask-a-librarian
Our online enquiry service, find out how to use it on our contact page.

Barcode
Every item in the library has a unique barcode. It is usually found inside the front of the book and is not to be confused with the publishers’ barcode on the back cover. You need to scan this when you borrow, renew or return items using the self-service machines.

Block
Your library account will have a block if you do not return materials on time, preventing you from borrowing anything else for some period of time. See our library regulations for more information on blocks.

Borrow
To borrow an item from a library for a period of time.

Citation
A quotation from or reference to a book, article or author particularly in an academic publication.

Citing
The process of quoting from or referring to a book, article or author particularly in an academic publication.

Classmark or Shelfmark
Each book in the library is given a number according to its subject area. This number tells you where in the library the book can be found. There will also be some letters after the number, which refer to its author or title.

Database
An electronic collection of information which you can search. Often databases focus on a particular subject area.

Digital Literacy
The ability to find, understand, evaluate and organise information using digital technology.

Digitisation
The process of converting a book, article or image into a file and making it available online.

E-book (electronic book)
A book which is available online.

E-Journal
A journal which is available online.

E-resources
A collective term used to describe databases, e-journals, e-books and websites.

FixIT
The FixIT Centre Team are available for IT advice, fault reporting and IT Service requests. You can log a call online or by telephone.

Full text
You will often see this term in Library Search and databases. It means the complete text of a journal article or book is available to read.

Group study room
A room where you can work together with other students as a group. You need to book these in advance on the Timetabling web page during term time.

Hold
If you want a book and all the copies are out on loan you will need to place a hold on it. To do this, click on the Request button on the item record in Library Search.

IDD (Interlending and Document Delivery)
Also referred to as inter-library loans, this is a way of requesting books and journal articles that are not available in our libraries. See our Using other libraries page for details.

Information Literacy
Information Literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, how to evaluate, use and communicate it.

Journal
A publication which contains different articles written by different authors. Each journal will contain articles relating to a particular subject. Journals can be printed or access may be online, or both.

Information Assistant
Each library has a team of information assistants who staff the library help point.

Institutional login
When accessing an e-resource, log in via Institutional login to authenticate that you are a member of the University of Westminster.

Issue
Journals are usually published weekly or monthly as issues (or parts) and these are often referred to by number, This can also be used as another term for borrow, eg, to issue a book

Library Search
This is the university library discovery tool where you can find books, articles and e-resources held at the University. Visit Library Search.

LinX
Click on this icon to see if an item is available online.

One-week loan
An item in the library that can be borrowed for one week.

Online
An item which is available on the internet.

Open Access
Open Access publications are permanently available to anyone with an internet connection and have unrestricted use.

Physical item
A print item available in the library. It will have a shelf reference number giving its location.

Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the use of any published or unpublished work without proper citation in your course work.

Reading list
A list of books and other materials that students are expected to read as part of their course.

Reference
The action of mentioning something in writing or in speech.

Reference only
This is an item that can only be used in the library. It cannot be borrowed.

Referencing
If you use someone else’s work, you must acknowledge your original source or sources.

Renew
If you want to extend the amount of time you can keep a book, you will need to renew it. You can do this using MyLibraryAccount on Library Search, by telephoning the library or on the library self-service machines.

Request
If you want a book and all the copies are out on loan, you will need to request it. To do this, click on the Request button on the item record in Library Search. When the book is returned, the library will send you an email and the book will be waiting for you on the open reservation shelves.

Reservation
If you want a book and all the copies are out on loan, you will need to place a reservation on the book. To do this, click on the Request button on the item record in Library Search. When the book is returned, the library will send you an email and the book will be waiting for you on the open reservation shelves

Return
This is when you bring an item back to the Library that has been borrowed.

Shelfmark
See Classmark.

Shibboleth login
When accessing an e-resource, log in via Shibboleth login to authenticate that you are a member of the University of Westminster

Silent study
There are certain areas in the library designated for silent study. Please respect your fellow students by not talking or otherwise making noise in these areas. There are other study areas you can use if you need to talk.

Three-hour loan
High demand items that can be borrowed for three hours. They are held by the library help point.

Three-week loan
An item that can be borrowed for three weeks.

Volume
Journals are usually published in volumes. A volume can contain several issues.

Westminster Research
The University of Westminster’s institutional repository, where records of published works by staff and researchers are kept. Some of these may be full text.

With thanks to the University of Bradford Library, who inspired this guide and gave us permission to reproduce some of the content from their Library Language web pages.

If you still have questions please contact the Ask a librarian service through FixIT.