Skip to Main Content

How to use the Library: Library Language - Glossary

Our professional team of staff offer a wide range of services to all QMU students, staff and visitors. From help with joining and borrowing; enquiry service, interlibrary loans and photocopying as well as subject support from Liaison Librarians.

Library Language: words and their definitions

 Can't find your word in the list? Suggest a new word or phrase to be included in the glossary.

A | B C | D | E F | G | H | I | J K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Abstract: A summary of a longer piece of text, often found at the beginning of journal articles.

Advanced search: This term is found in library databases used to search for journal articles. It allows you to filter your search to help you get more accurate and relevant results.

Archive: A collection of historical material.

Article: See definition for journal article.

Author: The person who has written the book or journal article.


Barcode: Every item in the Library has a barcode which is a unique code. It is usually found inside the front of the book.

Bibliography: List of books and other materials which have been used to write a piece of work.

Borrower: A registered member of the Library. 

Borrower number: This is the number of your student card which you will need to access your borrower record. It is the same as your student number.

Borrower record: You can log into your borrower record from the Library Catalogue web page. You can check the books you have borrowed, renew books, make reservations, and pay any fines you may have on your record. 

British Government Publications (BGP): This is official material produced by the British Government‌. 

Catalogue: Electronic list of all the items available in the Library for you to search.

It will tell you the following details:

  • Length of time you can borrow the book.
  • If it's available to borrow.
  • A Classmark will tell you where to find it on the shelf.
  • Useful details about the book e.g. edition.

Cataloguing: All new books have to be added to the Library Catalogue and given a classmark. This is called cataloguing.

CD-ROM: CD-ROMs are discs for holding information. On the catalogue you may find some material which is available on a CD-ROM. 

Citation / Cited: When you refer to another source (e.g. book, journal article) in your original piece of work (e.g. essay or dissertation) it is called a citation.

Classmark: Books in libraries are organised according to a classification system. This enables libraries to place books on the same subject together on the shelves. The classmark is a combination of letters and numbers.  QMU uses the Dewey Decimal classification system.

Use the Library Catalogue to find the classmark for an item, and then find the book on the shelves in the LRC. 

Colour printing: Colour printing is MFD in the LRC.  To print in colour, select MFD Colour Single (for single sided printing) or MFD Colour Duplex (for double sided printing) from the print drop down list in your document.  If you want to scan or photocopy in colour you will also need to use that machine. The machine is located at the far end of the LRC next to the post graduate study room.

Conference proceedings: A collection of papers from speakers at a conference.

Copy / copies: This has two different definitions in the LRC:

  1. A photocopy or print out from a MFD.
  2. The number of books of a particular title which we hold.

Copyright: This is legal protection given to any person who creates certain types of materials, including books, journal articles and computer programs. Copyright limits the amount of photocopying you can do from books and journals. There are posters next to the photocopiers explaining more about limits.

Current: Up-to-date information (published recently).

Database: A library database is an electronic collection of information which you can search. Databases usually focus on a particular subject area and are used to search for journal articles. 

Discover: This is a service that allows you to search across multiple databases and the library catalogue at the same time.  Please remember that it won't search across all our databases.

Dissertation: A dissertation is a long piece of writing generally on a topic chosen by the student. It can be a 4th year dissertation, MSc dissertation or PhD thesis. The University requires the deposit of a selection of dissertations.  These are held in our Etheses repository here

DOI®: Digital Object Identifier. A DOI is a permanent identifier to enable a student to find an item electronically. For example, a journal article can have a DOI (e.g. 10.1000/182).  A DOI used to link to a journal article on the Web can always find the article as the DOI never changes.

eBook / electronic book: A book which is available in an electronic format / online.

Edition: Published books sometimes need updating. This means a new version or edition of the book may be published. Some books have many editions, you should check your reading list to see what edition has been recommended.

eduroam®: This is the WiFi network that QMU students  and staff should connect to. As it is used by many other universities across the world, you can log into this network on your own device when you visit other University libraries.  However you must have set it up at your own institution first before visiting another University.  See also QM Guest.

eJournal / electronic journal / online journal: This is an electronic copy of a journal which is available to view online. Access is usually only available if the Library has purchased a subscription for the journal

Email: This is the electronic delivery of messages. You have a Queen Margaret University email address . It is very important that you check this on a regular basis. This is one way your lecturers, course administrators and the LRC will communicate with you.

eResources / electronic resources: This is a collective term used to describe databases, eJournals, eBooks and websites.


^back to top


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

Group Study Rooms: These are rooms in the Library which you can book during the LRC staffed hours Monday to Friday.  Rooms cannot be booked at the weekend but are still available for use 24/7.

Hold: If you want a book and all the copies are out on loan you can put a hold on it.  You can do that by clicking on the Request button (which has a tick next to it) when you are in the catalogue record of the item.  If there are reference copies available you won't be able to put a hold on yourself.  In this case, come to the LRC Helpdesk or contact us by phone or email and we can put a hold on the item for you.  Please be aware that we don't recall books that have holds on them.  Instead borrowers who have a copy on loan won't be able to renew them and will have to return them by the due date.

Hold Shelf: Once your book on hold hold has been returned we will keep the item on our hold shelf for 7 days. You will be sent an email to let you know it has arrived. Please come to the LRC Helpdesk during staffed hours to collect it.

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. Articles are often available to open as HTML files in databases. It will look like a web page when you read it. mention pdf here as well

Index: An index is a list of words found at the end of a textbook which helps you find relevant pages.

Induction: See Library induction.

Information skills / information literacy: The ability to find, evaluate and use information effectively. 

Interlibrary Loans (ILL): If you need a book or journal that we don’t have in the Library we can try to borrow it for you from libraries throughout the UK.  The LRC is part of an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) network that allows us to borrow material from other libraries in the UK should we not have access to these items in our own library.  You can find out more information and request an ILL here.

Issue: This has two definitions in the Library:

  • To borrow library items. When you borrow something you must issue it to your Library Account using our self-service machines.
  • Each individual copy of a journal is called an issue (or part). Issues can be published weekly, monthly or several times a year depending on the journal, and are often referred to by number. For example, in a monthly journal the January issue is issue number 1, the February issue is number 2 and so on.

^back to top

Journal / periodical / journal article: A journal is a collection of articles written by different authors. The articles contain specialised pieces of academic research. In journals you will also find other kinds of writing such as an editorial, reviews of other people's research and letters.

There are different types of journals: scholarly, peer-reviewed or more popular publications (magazines). Journals can be found online through the Library Catalogue and eJournals A to Z.  Current print journals are kept on the shelving behind the catalogue machines.  Copies from previous years are kept in the compact shelving.

^back to top

Keywords: These are words used to search the catalogue or databases to find information on a particular subject.

Laptop loan: The LRC has 10 laptop lockers, the laptops are available to borrow for 4 hours.

Liaison Librarian: Each subject area has a dedicated Liaison Librarian.  They can help you find information for your assignments and help you with referencing queries.  They run inductions for new students and also run various workshops throughout the year. link to contact page?

Library Catalogue: See definition of Catalogue.

Library induction: A process designed to introduce you to all the services, resources and people who can help you use the Library.

Literature review: This is a process to find out what has been published in books and journals in your area of research.

Loan period: This is the length of time you can borrow an item from the LRC.  There are 3 main loan types:

7 Day Loan - these have yellow tape on their spine.

21 Day Loan - these have no tape on their spine.

We also have books that are for reference only.  These cannot be borrowed and need to be consulted in the LRC.  These are recognisable by the red/white call numbers and the R on their spine.


Mono printing: The computer terminals automatically default to Mono Duplex printing.  This is mono or black and white printing double sided.  If you click on the drop down  arrow when you go to print there are other options available.  See also: Colour Printing.

Multi functional device: These are usually referred to as MFD's.  These are devices which allow you to print, scan and photocopy.  They allow you to scan directly to email and will store the document in graphical or PDF format.  When you send something to print you can login and collect it from any MFD anywhere on campus.

Open Access publishing: Open Access is about making research outputs freely available online for anybody to access.

Offprints: These are articles which are kept behind the counter in print form.  You can find them on the catalogue and they can be borrowed for 4 hours at a time.  They can be photocopied.  If you want to borrow one, get the offprint number from the catalogue and ask at the LRC Helpdesk

Paper: This is a term used to refer to a journal article prepared for a conference. See also: Journal article.

Paper copy: A term used to refer to a printed copy of a journal article rather than an electronic version.

Part: This is another name for issue that you find in a journal volume. See also: Issue.

Password: This is a secret word that you use with your username to access University services.

PDF: Portable Document Format. These types of files can display document text, images and will be displayed in the authors' intended format. Articles are often available to save as a PDF file in databases.

Peer-review: This is a process where experts in a particular subject will evaluate the research in an article before it is published.

Periodical: This is a term used to describe a journal.

Plagiarism: This is when a student copies someone else’s work and takes credit for it without acknowledging the source.

Back to Top

QMU Guest:  This is a wireless network that has been specifically designed to be used by visitors to the University.  Staff and students should use Eduroam® as their wireless network when on campus.  See also:  Eduroam®.

Reading lists: A list of essential and recommended books and journals for your course.

Record: This word is sometimes used to refer to your library account.

Reference: This has two definitions in the Library:

  • An item which can only be looked at in the Library.
  • Details of an information source that you have used in your work.

Reference list: At the end of your work you list all the sources (books, journals, websites etc.) that you have used.

Remote Desktop:  Also referred to as Remote Access.  Remote Access software can be downloaded onto your own device or can be accessed via an HTML link. You can log onto Remote Access and your desktop appears exactly as it does on a thin-client terminal on campus.  This allows you to work off campus and have access to everything you would have on campus.

Renew: If you want to extend the amount of time you can keep a book you will need to renew it.

Repository: An electronic collection of resources written by QMU staff and students.  You will find our repositories here

Reservation: See definition of Hold.

Reservation shelf: See definition of Hold shelf.

Review article: An evaluation of the research currently published on a specific topic.

Back to Top

Scholarly journal: This is a journal which publishes academic papers in a particular area of research.

SCONUL Access Scheme: This is a scheme where you can visit and, sometimes borrow from, other university libraries.  You can find more information here

Self Service Machines: QMU LRC is open 24/7.  Therefore we have self service machines for borrowing items.  These machines are located in front of the Helpdesk.  They should be used by staff and students for borrowing even when the LRC is staffed.  If you have a problem using these machines, please speak to a member of staff at the Helpdesk.

Shibboleth: This is the login that you may have to use to access eBooks and electronic resources.  It may also be called Institutional login.  The login details are the same as your QMU network username and password.

Standard: A standard provides specifications and guidelines that can be used to ensure materials, processes, products and services meet the desired requirements.

Subject Librarian: See Liaison Librarian.

Thesis: A thesis is a long piece of research for a Postgraduate degree or PhD.  We have some PhD theses in print, but the majority are available online in our Etheses repository.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator. This is the address for a web page on the Internet. (e.g.

Username: A unique name which the University gives to you to access University services.

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


No need to logon to a thin client or remote desktop session to simply print a document. Students can now print documents from any device by using the new Web Print option.

(Please note - Web Print only works on-campus while connected to the EDUROAM WiFi network).

Instructions on how to use Web Print can be found here.