Common Terms for the George Mason University Libraries


George Mason University Libraries has terms that may not be familiar. Use the glossary below to find the meaning.

  1. abstract Google logo
    A brief overview of the key points in a work.
    activate Google logo
    To make usable or turn-on. You must activate your Mason ID card to borrow materials from the Mason Libraries as well as WRLC.
    annotation Google logo
    A brief note added after a citation in a bibliography to describe, explain, or critique the content or message of the work cited.
    article Google logo
    A brief work on a topic, generally between 1 and 35 pages in length, and often published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.
    authentication Google logo
    A security process that typically employs usernames and passwords to validate the identity of users before allowing them access to certain information. In order to access Mason Libraries materials or services, you must be verified that you are affiliated with Mason.
    author Google logo
    The person or corporation responsible for producing a written work.
  2. barcode Google logo image of a Mason ID with the barcode highlighted
    A printed label containing machine-readable data which can be read by an optical scanner into a computer. Mason Libraries uses barcodes for patrons and materials.
    bibliography Google logo
    A list of citations or references to books, periodicals, etc. on a particular topic. In scholarly publication, a list of references to sources cited in the text, usually appearing at the end of the work.
    book Google logo
    A collection of sheets of paper or other material fastened together along one edge, with or without a protective case or cover.
    Boolean Google logo
    A command that links two or more terms to form a search strategy by combining terms (AND), excluding terms (NOT) or looking for variations (OR).
    broader term Google logo
    A term that is more general than another term, for example, 'Libraries' is broader than 'School libraries.'
  3. call number Website: Mason Tutorial ("How to Read a Call Number") Google logo
    The address of the book or other physical materials on the shelves in a library. Mason Libraries uses the Library of Congress call number system (LCC), which is an alpha numeric system (example: PN 2035.H336 1991).
    catalog Website: Mason Catalog Google logo
    A comprehensive list of books, periodicals, maps, media, and other materials held or owned by a library.
    charged Google logo
    A note in the catalog that an item is checked out.
    check-in Google logo
    To return an item to the library.
    checkout Google logo
    To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time.
    circulation Website: Mason Circulation Policies Google logo
    1. The process of checking books and other materials in and out of a library.
    2. A location in a library where you can check out, return or renew items, ask about missing items, or inquire about fines.
    citation Website: Mason Tutorial ("Reading Citations") Google logo
    A reference or footnote to an item (such as a book or periodical article) that contains the author, title, date of publication, and any other information needed to locate the item.
    consortium loan service Website: Mason Consortium Loan Service (CLS) Google logo
    A group of libraries which agrees to share resources. Mason Libraries is a member of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).
    contents Google logo
    All of the divisions, chapters, articles, or individual works contained in a book, periodical, or other publication, usually listed in order of appearance with locators (page numbers) in the table of contents in the front matter of a book or on a page near the front of an issue of a periodical. Not synonymous with content or subject matter.
    controlled vocabulary Google logo
    An established list of preferred terms which may be used to search an index, abstract, or information database. Compare with natural language searching.
    copyright Website: Mason Copyright Office Google logo
    The exclusive legal rights granted by a government to an author, editor, compiler, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to publish, produce, sell, or distribute copies of a literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, or other work.
    course reserves Website: Mason Course Reserves Portal Google logo
    Materials that instructors set aside in the library or online for students in the class to use.
  4. data services Website: Mason Data Services Google logo
    A service within the library that provides help with finding, getting, and using statistical, geospatial, and qualitative data.
    database Website: Mason Database Portal Google logo
    A large, regularly updated file of digitized information related to a specific subject or field. Most databases used in libraries are periodical indexes, full text reference resources, etc.
    descriptor Google logo
    A preferred term or phrase, frequently used in databases, similar to controlled vocabulary.
    discharged Google logo
    A recently returned item, which may still need to be reshelved.
    document delivery service Website: Mason Document Delivery Service Google logo
    The physical or electronic delivery of documents from a library collection to the residence or place of business of a library user, upon request. Mason Libraries document delivery services, called intercampus loan, delivers materials from one University Libraries location to another (e.g. from Fenwick to Mercer).
  5. ebook or electronic book Website: Mason eBook Database Portal Google logo
    A digital version of a traditional print book designed to be read on an electronic device.
    ejournal or electronic journal Website: Mason Tutorial ("eJournal Finder") Google logo
    A digital version of a print journal, or a journal-like electronic publication with no print counterpart.
    ereserves or electronic reserves Website: Mason Course Reserves Portal Google logo
    Items placed on reserve that a library makes available online.
  6. full text Google logo
    An electronic resource that provides the entire text of a work.
  7. group study room ason Group Study Rooms Google logo
    Rooms intended for study by groups of people.
  8. hold Google logo
    1.) A request to be notified when a checked out item is returned.
    2.) A block on a patron's library account that bars that patron from checking out materials, usually because of fines or overdue items.
  9. index Google logo
    An alphabetically arranged list of headings consisting of the personal names, places, and subjects in a written work. The indexes uses page numbers to refer the reader to the point in the text where information about the heading is found.
    infoguides Website: Mason Infoguides Google logo
    Online guides of resources and search strategies to jump-start your research.
    intercampus loan (ICL) Guide on the Side: ICL Request Google logo
    Mason Libraries document delivery service. See document delivery service.
    interlibrary loan (ILL) Guide on the Side: ILL Request Google logo
    Exchange of books, periodical articles, etc. between libraries for a brief period. Mason Libraries' users are able to borrow library materials from other campuses, from regional university libraries, and from libraries around the world.
    ILLiad Website: Mason ILLiad Logon Google logo
    The online system you use to request an item through interlibrary loan. The name ILLiad is an acronym for InterLibrary Loan internet accessible database.
    issue Google logo
    Single uniquely numbered or dated part of a periodical or newspaper.
  10. journal Google logo
    Type of periodical that contains scholarly articles and usually published by academic or association presses.
  11. keyword Google logo
    A significant word or concept that can be used as a search term in databases, catalogs, and other research resources.
  12. literature review Google logo
    A comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research. The review is usually over a specific period of time and in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list that draws attention to the most significant works.
  13. Mason ID Google logo image of a Mason ID
    Contains your library barcode. Use your Mason ID to check out materials.
    MasonLink Google logo image of a Mason ID
    This icon offers a way to to search the Mason collections for the full text of an article.
    monograph Google logo
    A book written on a single subject.
  14. narrower term Google logo
    A term that is more specific than another term, for example, 'Music librarianship' is narrower than 'Librarianship.'
    natural language searching Google logo
    Using plain language and sentences as opposed to keywords or subject headings to search for needed material, for example, 'Where can I find information about Frederick Douglass' (natural language) as opposed to 'frederick douglass' or 'su:douglass' (keyword or subject heading). Compare with controlled vocabulary.
    NetID Website: Mason Username Google logo
    Your Mason username. It is the portion of your Mason email address in front of the @ symbol. A NetID and password are needed to access many of Mason Libraries resources and services.
  15. peer review Google logo
    The process in which a new book, article, software program, etc. is submitted by the prospective publisher to experts in the field for critical evaluation prior to publication. Peer review is a standard in scholarly publishing.
    periodical Website: Mason Popular, Scholarly, Trade Sources Info Google logo
    Materials published at regular intervals (at least 3 times a year) and intended to be continued indefinitely. Examples include magazines, journals, and newspapers.
    plagiarism Google logo
    Copying or closely imitating the work of another writer, composer, etc. without permission and with the intention of passing the results off as original works; also using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging the original source.
    primary source Google logo
    An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.
    proxy server Troubleshooting Off-Campus Access to E-Resources Google logo
    An internet server that acts as a 'go-between' for a computer on a local network and the open web. Mason Libraries uses EZProxy to provide easy access from outside the Mason network or networks to websites that restrict access by IP address, for example, databases.
  16. recall Google logo
    A request for the return of library material before the due date.
    record Google logo
    A description of a work in a catalog or database.
    research services Website: Mason Ask a Librarian Info Google logo
    A service that helps people find needed information.
    related term Google logo
    A term that is similar to another term, but not a synonym, for example, 'Media specialists' is related to 'School libraries.'
    renew Google logo
    An extension of the loan period for charged library materials.
    research portals Website: Mason Research Portals Google logo
    A printed or online resource that provides detailed information, instructions, and advice concerning the best strategies, techniques, and resources for research in a subject or field of study.
  17. secondary source Google logo
    Books or articles that explain or analyze primary sources, for example, criticism of a literary work.
    stacks Google logo
    Shelves in the library where materials, typically books, are stored and arranged by call number.
    subject Google logo
    A topic or theme of a work.
    subject guides Website: Mason Subject Guides Google logo
    Information on a topic, major, or a course created by Mason Libraries' staff. The guide suggests important resources inside and outside of the Libraries.
    subject heading Google logo
    The most specific word(s) that describe the subject of a work, selected from a list of preferred terms or controlled vocabulary. See controlled vocabulary.
    subject librarian Website: Mason Subject Librarians Google logo
    A librarian who works with a particular subject or major.
  18. tertiary source Google logo
    A work, such as a chapter in a textbook or entry in a reference book, based entirely on secondary sources, rather than on original research involving primary documents. Tertiary sources may be written by staff writers who have an interest in the topic but are not scholars on the subject.
    title Google logo
    The name of a book, composition, or other artistic work.
    truncation Google logo
    Adding a special symbol (*, #, ?, etc.) to the root of a word in order to search for variants. For example, typing forest* in a database would retrieve records containing forest, forestry, forests, forested, etc.
  19. volume Google logo
    Contains the total collection of all sequential issues of a periodical or newspaper over a given time period.
  20. Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) Website: Mason Tutorial ("Introducing the Washington Research Library Consortium") Google logo
    An agreement between George Mason University Libraries and other neighboring university libraries to share resources. See consortium loan service.
    wildcard Google logo
    A character that will match any character or sequence of characters in a search. See truncation.
    workshop Website: Mason Workshop Calendar & Registration Google logo
    A meeting of people interested in learning more about a subject or who wish to gain practical experience in the use of a technique, system, or resource, usually for the purpose of training or professional development.

Additional Questions and Help

If you have trouble or questions about the Common Terms of George Mason University Libraries, Ask a Librarian.

Go to top of page.

Creative Commons License

Common Terms for the George Mason University Libraries by C. Ferrance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.