Skip to main content

UWM Music Library Student Employee Guide: Library

Training Resources for new student workers in the Music & Curriculum Library

Library Jargon

Especially for student employees who are new to the library, many individuals may not be familiar with terms commonly used by staff and students in the library. Here are some alphabetically listed terms that you may want to familiarize yourself with.


Adaptive Technology Rooms (ADA Rooms) - Referes to a room (W110N) in the Learning Commons with adaptive technology available for students, faculty, and/or staff with disabilities. Additionally, there is a distraction free room (WB48) without equipment for silent study/test taking.

Archives - Historical or public records, which are generally non-circulating materials such as collections of personal papers, rare books, ephemera, etc. Can also refer to the space which houses these records, such as the UWM Libraries Archives Department.

Audio Reserve - Digital/Streaming audio materials for assigned listenings in music and non-music classes. Accessed via PantherCat.

Bibliography - A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document.

Boolean Operator -  A connecting word, such as AND, OR, or NOT, that is used to combine search terms. Using AND or NOT can narrow searches and reduce the number of results, while using OR can broaden searches and increase the number of results.

Browser - A software program that retrieves and displays content from the World Wide Web. Some examples of browsers are Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.

Call Number - A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. The call number or classification system used for most of the UWM Libraries collections are based on the Library of Congress Classification system but other systems are used by specialized collections (e.g., Dewey Decimal in the Curriculum collection; Superintendent of Documents Clssification for some U.S. government documents).

Catalog - A database that lists and describes the items held by a library, such as books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials. Catalogs can typically be searched in a variety of ways, such as by keyword, title, author, or subject. Library catalogs are usually available online, and are sometimes called OPACs (Online Public Access Catalog).  PantherCat is the UWM Libraries main catalog.

Circulation - The place in the library, often a desk or service counter, where you check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.

Controlled Vocabulary - Standardized terms used in searching a specific database.

Course Reserve - A service that provides special, often short-term access to library materials, such as books, lecture notes, or other materials. Can also refer to the physical location — often a service desk, room, or department such as the UWM Libraries Media and Reserve Department — within a library where reserve materials are kept. Items kept on course reserve are physical items that cannot be scanned to be made available online.

Database - A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.

Dissertation - An extended written treatment of a subject (like a book) submitted by a graduate student as a requirement for a doctorate.

E-book - An electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer or other device.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - The UWM Libraries' GIS holdings are located in the AGS Library on the third floor, east wing. GIS deals with computer systems that work with data relating to positions on the Earth's surface.

Hold - A request by a user to a library that a book checked out to another person be saved for that user when it is returned. “Holds” can generally be placed on any regularly circulating library materials through an in-person or online circulation desk.

Index - 1. A list of names or topics—usually found at the end of a publication—that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)- A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. See also: Document delivery.

Keyword - A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of an information resource that indicates its subject and is often used as a search term.

Microform - A reduced sized photographic reproduction of printed information on reel to reel film (microfilm) or film cards (microfiche) or opaque pages that can be read with a microform reader/printer.  The UWM Libraries Microtext Research Collection is part of the Media and Reserve Library.

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) - A database that lists and describes the items held by a library, such as books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials. Catalogs can typically be searched in a variety of ways, such as by keyword, title, author, or subject. Library catalogs are usually available online, and are sometimes called OPACs (Online Public Access Catalog).  PantherCat is the UWM Libraries main OPAC.

PDF - An abbreviation for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe that allows files to be transmitted from one computer to another while retaining their original appearance both in electronic and printed forms.

Peer-reviewed Journal - Peer review is a process by which articles or books submitted for publication are evaluated by other experts in the field (the writer's professional peers) before being published. The peer-review process helps to ensure the quality and validity of published information. Peer-reviewed journals are sometimes also called refereed journals or scholarly journals.

Periodical - An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.

Primary source - An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.

Primo - Another title for "Search @ UW," the new search engine featured on the UWM Libraries' main page. 

Recall - A request for the return of library material before the due date.

Reference - 1. A service that helps people find needed information. 2. Sometimes "reference" refers to reference collections, such as encyclopedias, indexes, handbooks, directories, etc. 3. A citation to a work is also known as a reference.  The UWM Libraries Ask a Librarian service housed in the Learning Commons, south room, is the primary reference desk but the specialized departments also provide reference service.

Remote Access - Off-campus access. The ability to log onto (or access) networked computer resources from a distant location. Remote access makes available library databases to students researching from home, office, or other locations outside the library.

Renewal - A lengthening of the loan period for library materials.

Search @ UW - The UW System's new catalog search interface that generates search results from the entire UW System. A new alternative to PantherCat.

Secondary Sources - Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.

Serial - Publications such as journals, magazines and newspapers that are generally published multiple times per year, month, or week. Serials usually have number volumes and issues. The words journal, magazine, periodical, and serial may be used interchangeably.

Stacks - Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to as “book stacks.”

Subject Heading - Descriptions of an information source’s content assigned to make finding information easier. See also: Controlled vocabulary, Descriptors.

Universal Borrowing (UB) - Interlibrary Loan with schools in the University of Wisconsin system. Requesting a book from another UW school will only take 2-3 business days to get here. The catalogs from the other UW schools can be searched simultanously in our PantherCat.

WorldCat - A search engine that can search participating library catalogs worldwide simultaneously. This tool is used heavily by Interlibrary Loan.



Want the definition of a word not listed here? Type "Define:" followed by the word in question in a Google Search.