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Library Resources and Services for Students

Library Glossary

While learning about our many library services and events, you will notice a lot of library jargon tossed in.  As new students at CSUSM we know some of it will be unfamiliar to you so if you are at all confused about the terminology look below for the definitions.


Information which identifies the book or article. The information includes name of the author or authors, complete title, who published the item, where and when. A citation for an article contains the title of the magazine or journal as well as the title of the article, along with the author, pages, volume and issue number, and publication date for the periodical. Accurate citations help you find material more easily and quickly.


Also referred to as “library databases” or “research databases,” databases contain records for articles which have appeared in magazines, journals, and newspapers. You will find information necessary to locate the material (the citation). In addition to citation information, you will find summaries or abstracts of the articles. Some databases provide full-text articles; others use the Get-It button to find the full-text.

ILL or Interlibrary Loan

A service provided to students, staff and faculty for free which allows you to request material from other libraries. You can ask for books that CSUSM Library does not have, as well as copies of articles from magazines or journals to which our library does not subscribe.


A publication that features the research of experts in a given field, like psychologists or historians. Journals are often called scholarly or peer-reviewed. Journals are published regularly and contain many articles within each volume or issue. 

Library Reserves

A special group of books and articles that have been set aside or reserved for use by classes. Professors select material that they want an entire class to be able to read for their course. Borrowing time for reserved material is usually short to allow more people to use the material.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Articles are written by experts and are reviewed by several other experts in the field before the article is published in the journal in order to ensure the article’s quality.


A general name for any publication which is published periodically – weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. In a database this term usually refers to magazines. 


Plagiarism is the act of taking credit for work that is not your own and can have very serious consequences. Make sure you use citations to ensure you are not citing.

Subject headings

Words or phrases that describe the topic of a book or article. Subject headings are assigned to material by experts in that subject area. You can search an index or an online catalog by subject to find what articles or books exist on that topic. Subject headings are very rigid or controlled and sometimes what you think is the subject may not be the word or phrase chosen to describe the item. Ask a librarian to show you a way around this problem by using keyword searching.