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Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science
Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science 48
ODLIS: Online Dictionary
About the Dictionary
Copyright 2002 by Joan M. Reitz. All Rights
A B C D E F G H I JK L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ
See: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.
See: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.
See: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.
See: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.
See: Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries.
See: American Association of Law Libraries.
See: Association of American Publishers.
See: American Antiquarian Society.
See: American Association of School Librarians.
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See: American Association of University Professors and Association of American
See: American Booksellers Association.
See: Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.
AB Bookman’s Weekly
A trade publication used mainly by antiquarian booksellers to locate rare, out of print,
and difficult to find titles, AB Bookman’s Weekly began as a section of Publisher’s
Weekly under the title Antiquarian Bookman. In 1948 it became an independent
weekly of the same title published by R. R. Bowker. Publication under the current
title began in 1967.
A shortened form of a word or phrase used for brevity in place of the whole,
consisting of the first letter, or the first few letters, followed by a period (full stop),
for example, assoc. for association or P.O. for post office. Some terms have more
than one abbreviation (v. or vol. for volume). Abbreviated abbr.
Also used as an umbrella term for any shortened form of a word or phrase, not an
acronym, initialism, or contraction, for example, the postal code CT for Connecticut.
The rules governing the use of abbreviations in library catalog entries are given in
Appendix B of AACR2.
See: abecedarium and alphabet book.
A book containing the letters of the alphabet and basic rules of spelling and grammar,
used in Europe as a primer before the invention of the printing press. Early printed
examples (sometimes in the form of a broadsheet) displayed the alphabet in uppercase
and lowercase letters in both roman and gothic type, with separate lists of vowels,
dipthongs, and consonants. By 1700, some ABC books included children’s rhymes.
Synonymous with abecedary. See also: horn book.
A copy of a book containing obvious printing and/or binding errors which are more
serious than minor defects.
See: Association des bibliothecaires francais.
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The totality of subjects explicitly or implicitly addressed in the text of a document,
including but not limited to the meaning(s) of the title, the stated and unstated
intentions of the author, and the ways in which the information may be used by
readers. Levels of specificity must be considered in ascertaining the subject(s) of a
work. In the case of the hypothetical title The Japanese Teamwork Approach to
Improving High School Effectiveness, is the work about:
2. educational effectiveness?
3. high school effectiveness?
5. a Japanese approach to teamwork?
As a general rule, catalogers and indexers assign the most specific subject headings
that describe the significant content of the item. In a post-coordinate indexing system
such as the one used in ERIC, the descriptors "Educational effectiveness," "High
schools," "Japan," and "Teamwork" would probably be assigned to the example given
above, but in a pre-coordinate system, such as the Library of Congress subject
headings list, the appropriate headings might be "High schoolsJapan," "Teacher
effectivenessJapan," and "Teaching teamsJapan." See also: summarization.
above the fold
The half of a broadsheet newspaper that appears above the horizontal fold. Articles
printed near the top have greater prominence because most languages are read from
top to bottom of page.
Abridged Decimal Classification (ADC)
A shortened version of Dewey Decimal Classification developed for use in small
A shortened version or edition of a written work, which preserves the overall meaning
and manner of presentation of the original but omits the less important passages of
text, and usually the illustrations, notes, and appendices. Often prepared by a person
other than the original author or editor, an abridged edition is generally intended for
readers unlikely to purchase the unabridged version because of its length, complexity,
or price (example: The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). Also spelled
abridgement. Abbreviated abr. Synonymous with condensation. Compare with
simplified edition. See also: abstract, brief, digest, epitome, summary, and synopsis.
The failure of an employee to report for work, usually due to illness, accident, family
responsibilities, or personal business. A persistently high rate of absenteeism may be
a sign of low morale among the staff of a library or library system. See also: burnout.
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The capacity of paper to absorb and retain moisture, which varies with type of paper,
and is of particular importance in printing processes that use liquid ink. See also:
The assimilation of one serial by another. The note Absorbed: followed by the title of
the assimilated serial is added to the bibliographic record representing the
assimilating publication, and the corresponding note Absorbed by: giving the title of
the assimilating serial is added to the record for the assimilated publication. Compare
A brief, objective summary of the essential content of a book, article, speech, report,
dissertation, or other work, which presents the main points in the same order as the
original, but has no independent literary value. An abstract can be indicative,
informative, critical, or written from a particular point of view (slanted). In a
scholarly journal article, the abstract follows the title and the name(s) of the author(s),
and precedes the text. In an entry in a printed indexing and abstracting service or
bibliographic database, the abstract accompanies the citation. Compare with
summary. See also: author abstract and abstracting journal.
The preparation of a brief, objective statement (abstract) of the content of a written
work, to enable the researcher to quickly determine whether reading the entire text
might satisfy the specific information need. Abstracting is usually limited to the
literature of a specific discipline or group of related disciplines, and is performed by
an individual or commercial entity, such as an indexing and abstracting service, that
provides abstracts regularly to a list of subscribers.
A journal that specializes in providing summaries (called abstracts) of articles and
other documents published within the scope of a specific academic discipline or field
of study (example: Peace Research Abstracts Journal). Compare with abstracting
A commercial indexing service that provides both a citation and a brief summary or
abstract of the content of each document indexed (example: Information Science
Abstracts). Numbered consecutively in order of addition, entries are issued serially in
print, usually in monthly or quarterly supplements, or in a regularly updated
bibliographic database available by subscription. Abstracting services can be
comprehensive or selective within a specific academic discipline or subdiscipline.
Compare with abstracting journal.
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The principle that faculty members employed at institutions of higher education
(including librarians with faculty status) should remain free to express their views and
teach in the manner of their own choosing, without interference from administration,
government, or outside organizations which may have an axe to grind.
A library that is an integral part of a college, university, or other institution of
post-secondary education, administered to meet the information and research needs of
its students, faculty, and staff. In the United States, the professional association for
academic libraries and librarians is the Association of College and Research Libraries
(ACRL). Click here to connect to the Libweb list of academic libraries in the United
States. Compare with research library. See also: college library, departmental library,
graduate library, undergraduate library, and university library.
See: university press.
Recognition given by an institution of higher education that the librarians in its
employ are considered members of the teaching or research staff, but are not entitled
to ranks, titles, rights, and benefits equivalent to those of faculty. Compare with
A representation of the elegant leaf-form of Acanthus spinosus, a species of
herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean region, used by the ancient Greeks to
ornament Corinthian capitals, and as a decorative motif in the illuminated initial
letters and borders of medieval manuscripts, where it is often found painted in a
unrealistic colors (red, yellow, purple, blue).
acceptable use policy
Guidelines established by a library or library system concerning the manner in which
its computer systems and equipment may be used, for example, most public libraries
forbid the use of public workstations for commercial or unlawful activities. In most
libraries, a printed copy of acceptable use policy is posted near the workstations to
which the restrictions apply. Some libraries also make the statement available on their
The right of entry to a library or its collections. All public libraries and most
academic libraries in the United States are open to the general public, but access to
certain areas such as closed stacks, rare books, and special collections may be
restricted. In a more general sense, the right or opportunity to use a resource which
may not be openly and freely available to everyone. See also: accessibility.
In computing, the privilege of using a computer system or online resource, usually
controlled by the issuance of access codes to authorized users. In a more general
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sense, the ability of a user to reach data stored on a computer or computer system.
An identification code, such as a username, password, or PIN which a user must enter
correctly to gain access to a computer system or network. In most proprietary
systems, access codes are tightly controlled to exclude unauthorized users.
Synonymous with authorization code.
The ease with which a person may enter a library, gain access to its online systems,
use its resources, and obtain needed information regardless of its format. In a more
general sense, the quality of being able to be located and used by someone.
In information storage and retrieval, the manner in which a computer system retrieves
records from a file, which usually depends on the method of their arrangement in or
on the storage medium.
To record in an accession list that a bibliographic item has been added to a library
collection. Also refers to the document added. The process of making additions is
known as accessions. The opposite of deaccession. Compare with acquisitions. See
also: accession number.
In archives, the formal act of accepting and documenting the receipt of records taken
into custody, part of the process of establishing physical and intellectual control over
them. In the case of donated items, a deed of gift may be required to transfer legal
See: accession record.
A unique number assigned to a bibliographic item in the order in which it is added to
a library collection, recorded in an accession record maintained by the technical
services department. Most libraries assign accession numbers in continuous numerical
sequence, but some use a code system to indicate type of material and/or year of
accession, in addition to order of accession. See also: Library of Congress Control
Number and OCLC control number.
The arrangement of books or other documents on shelves in the chronological and
numerical order of their addition to a specific category or class, as opposed to an
arrangement based entirely on a classification system.
A list of the bibliographic items added to a library collection in the order of their
addition. Normally such a list includes the accession number, brief bibliographic
identification, source, and price paid for each item. Synonymous with accession
catalog, accession register, and accession list.
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A unit of information in a bibliographic record under which a person may search for
and identify items listed in a library catalog or bibliographic database. Access points
have traditionally included the main entry, added entries, subject headings,
classification or call number, and codes such as the standard number, but with
machine-readable cataloging almost any portion of the catalog record (name of
publisher, type of material, etc.) can be used as an access point. In the MARC record,
most access points are found the following fields, with XX in the range of 00-99:
1XX - Main entries
4XX - Series statements
6XX - Subject headings
7XX - Added entries other than subject or series
8XX - Series added entries
In a more general sense, any unique data element that serves as a point of entry to an
organized file of information.
A formal written statement issued by the person(s) or body responsible for managing
archives or special collections, specifying which materials are available for access and
by whom, including any conditions or restrictions on use, usually posted or
distributed in some manner to users.
The provision of access to a library’s resources and collections, which includes the
circulation of materials (general circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, document
delivery), reshelving, stack maintenance, and security. Large libraries employ an
access services librarian to manage these activities.
The amount of time it takes a computer system to provide stored data to a person who
logs on and follows correct procedures for retrieval. Access time may be slower
during periods of peak use.
Related material issued with an item, for example, a floppy disk, CD-ROM, slide set,
answer book, teacher’s manual, atlas, or portfolio of prints or plates intended by the
publisher to be used and stored with it, often in a pocket inside the cover or loose
inside the container. When such an item is cataloged by a library, the presence of
accompanying material is indicated in the physical description area of the
The extent to which persons in government and the workplace are held answerable
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for their conduct in office, and for the quality of their performance of assigned duties,
particularly when incompetence, dereliction, or malfeasance is at issue. See also:
The regular evaluation process by which an educational or service organization
establishes that its program of study or services, or the institution as a whole, meets
certain pre-existing standards of quality. In the United States, institutions of higher
learning are evaluated by regional accrediting bodies, and academic libraries are
evaluated as part of the institutional accreditation process. The formal evaluation of
individual competence is called certification. See also: accedited library school and
accredited library school
In the United States, a library school offering a degree program regularly evaluated by
the American Library Association and found to meet established standards of quality,
as opposed to an approved library school offering a program recognized or certified
by a state board or educational agency as meeting its standards. Some approved
library schools are also ALA-accredited.
The quality of correctness as to fact and precision as to detail in information resources
and in the delivery of information services. In libraries, it is essential that the
resources used by librarians to provide reference service be free of error. Accuracy is
also an important criterion in judging the reliability of information provided on the
Internet. The accuracy of a statement can be verified by checking other sources that
provide the same information. The opposite of inaccuracy (the quality of being
incorrect or mistaken).
Materials with a pH value of 7.0 (neutral) or higher (alkaline), preferred in printing
and binding to prevent deterioration caused by acid over time. Acid-free papers are
often buffered to counteract acids that may develop with age as a result of bleaching
and sizing, or be introduced through acid migration or atmospheric pollution.
Substances which have a pH value less than 7.0 (neutral). The main source of acid in
paper products is lignin contained in wood used for pulp. Because acid causes the
paper and board used in printing and binding to deteriorate over time, lignin is
removed in all but the lowest-grade papers. A buffer such as calcium carbonate or
magnesium carbonate may be added in papermaking to neutralize acids that develop
or are introduced in paper after it is manufactured. The opposite of alkaline. Compare
The movement of acid from a material containing acid to one that is less acidic, pH
neutral, or alkaline. The process can occur through direct contact or vapor transfer.
One of the most common problems in document preservation is the migration of acid
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from the boards, endpapers, or paper covers of a book to the less acidic paper of the
text block (or vice versa). Acid can also migrate from bookplates, inserts, tissues used
in interleaving, and labels that are not acid-free. The result may be discoloration and
eventual embrittlement. The process can be arrested by removing the contaminating
material and subjecting the sheet(s) or volume to deacidification. Synonymous with
acid transfer. See also: buffered paper.
Paper that has a pH value less than 7.0 (neutral). The primary source of acid in paper
is lignin, an organic substance contained in untreated wood pulp, but acid can also
develop from the addition of certain types of sizing or from residual chlorine used in
bleaching. It can also be introduced by acid migration or atmospheric pollution
(sulphur dioxide). Because acidity weakens the cellulose in plant fiber, it can cause
paper, board, and cloth to yellow and become brittle over time, making it an
important factor in the preservation of printed materials. To ensure durability,
publishers are encouraged to use acid-free permanent paper in printing trade books.
Buffering helps neutralize acids that develop after manufacture. Acid can be removed
from fiber-based materials by means of an expensive process called deacidification.
See: acid migration.
The section of the front matter of a book in which the author gives formal recognition
to the contributions others have made to the work. The acknowledgments usually
follow the preface or foreword and precede the introduction. Some authors include
their acknowledgments in the preface. Also spelled acknowledgements. Compare with
A unique number used by the acquisitions department of a library to identify a
specific bibliographic item on a purchase order. Some libraries use a standard number
such as the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or ISSN (International
Standard Serial Number) as the acquisition number.
The process of selecting, ordering, and receiving materials for library or archival
collections by purchase, exchange, or gift, which may include budgeting and
negotiating with outside agencies, such as publishers, dealers, and vendors, to obtain
resources to meet the needs of the institution’s clientele, in the most economical and
Also refers to the department within a library responsible for selecting, ordering, and
receiving new materials, and for maintaining accurate records of such transactions,
usually managed by an acquisitions librarian. In small libraries, the acquisitions
librarian may also be responsible for collection development, but in most public and
academic libraries this responsibility is shared by all the librarians who have an
interest in collection building, usually on the basis of their expertise and subject
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specializations. Compare with accessions. See also: ALCTS.
For a more detailed description of the responsibilities entailed in acquisitions, please
see the entry by Liz Chapman in the International Encyclopedia of Information and
Library Science (1997) edited by John Feather and Paul Sturges. Click here to
connect to the homepage of AcqWeb, an online resource for acquisitions and
collection development librarians.
See: Association of College and Research Libraries.
See: Adobe Acrobat.
A new name or word (neologism) that is pronounceable and hence memorable, coined
from the first or first few letters or parts of a phrase or compound term (example:
ERIC for Educational Resources Information Center). Compare with abbreviation
Click here to connect to the Yahoo list of online acronym and abbreviation finders.
A verse or list of words composed in such a way that certain letters of each line
(usually the first and/or last), when read in order of appearance, spell a word, phrase,
or sentence. An abecedarius is an acrostic in which the pattern consists of the letters
of the alphabet in traditional order. An acrostic can be single, double, or triple,
depending on how many words in each line are composed in this way. As a matter of
policy, newspaper and magazine editors routinely check verses for acrostics prior to
publication to avoid embarrassment. The following well-known example is an all
around acrostic in Latin:
R O T A S
O P E R A
T E N E T
A R E P O
S A T O R
One of the major divisions in the action of a play, usually marked by the dropping of
the curtain, followed by an intermission. In modern drama, most plays are divided
into three acts which may be further subdivided into scenes. See also: one-act play.
Also refers to a piece of legislation (a bill) after it has been passed into law (example:
Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998).
A daily gazette published in ancient Rome from the period of the late Republic
onward, devoted primarily to matters of state (official events, public speeches, legal
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proceedings, public building projects, major military actions) and announcements of
births, marriages, and deaths. It also contained news of unusual occurrences
(earthquakes, strange accidents, portents) and information about the private lives of
prominent persons (scandals, divorces, lawsuits).
The text was posted on public buildings and copies were made for wealthy Romans
living in the city and provinces, or away temporarily on public business. The actuarii
responsible for gathering the news were sometimes misled by persons intent on
manipulating commodity markets and political events for personal gain. Surviving
fragments, preserved in the writings of Petronius, read very much like a modern
An edition of a play intended for the use of actors and others directly involved in
theater production, which includes fuller stage directions (entrances, exits, stage
properties, etc.) than one intended for reading, usually published in limp paper covers
and priced lower than other editions of the same work. Compare with script.
Records required by an agency or individual to function effectively on a daily basis,
usually kept close at hand, organized in a manner that renders them readily accessible.
Synonymous with current records. The opposite of inactive records. See also:
See: semantic relation.
See: Americans with Disabilities Act.
A work that has been edited or rewritten, in part or in its entirety, for a new use,
audience, or purpose. Also, a work converted to another literary form or artistic
medium to serve a different or related purpose, while retaining as much of the action,
characters, language, and tone of the original as possible, for example, a novel
adapted for performance on the stage, a play adapted for the motion picture screen, or
an engraving based on a painting. Under AACR2, adaptations of texts are cataloged
under the name of the adapter, or under the title if the adapter is unknown, with a
name-title added entry for the original work. Abbreviated adapt.
In music, a work which is a distinct alteration of another musical work (example: a
free transcription), or that paraphrases parts of various works or imitates the style of
another composer, or is somehow based on another musical work (AACR2).
See: Abridged Decimal Classification.
A copy of an item already owned by a library, added to the collection usually when
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demand warrants. Compare with duplicate.
An edition of a work added to a library collection, which is not the same as editions
of the same title already owned by the library.
An entry in a library catalog other than the main entry, usually one that adds a
heading for a joint author, illustrator, translator, series, or subject. Synonymous with
secondary entry. See also: name-title added entry and tracings.
added title page
A title page preceding or following the one that the cataloger uses as the chief source
of information in creating the bibliographic description of an item. It can be more
general (a series title page) or of equivalent generality (a title page in a different
Brief printed matter, less extensive than a supplement or appendix, included in a book
or other publication after the work has been typeset because it is considered essential
to the meaning or completeness of the text, usually printed separately on a slip of
paper tipped in at the beginning or end of the text. Plural: addenda. Compare with
A brief note in the Dewey Decimal Classification schedules instructing the cataloger
to append to a given base number one or more numerals found elsewhere in the
classification in order to build a class number. For example, the instruction to "add to
base number 027.1 (private and family libraries) notation from 1-9 from Table 2, e.g.,
family libraries in the United Kingdom 027.141."
In computing, a character or set of characters used to identify a specific location in
main memory or peripheral storage, usually for the purpose of accessing stored data.
See also: Internet address.
A substance applied to a material to make it stick to another surface by chemical or
mechanical action. Gummed adhesives require moisture to be effective. Solid at room
temperatures, hot-melt adhesives liquify when heated and set up quickly as they cool.
Some types of adhesive are pressure-sensitive. Adhesives of various kinds are used
extensively in binding and technical processing in libraries. In document
conservation, adhesives are often selected for their reversibility. See also: adhesive
binding, glair, glue, paste, and polyvinyl acetate.
A generic term for binding methods in which the leaves are held together by a strong
adhesive applied directly to the back of the text block, usually done after the binding
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edge is milled, but sometimes after the sections are sewn. The most commonly used
adhesives are animal glues, hot-melts, and polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Synonymous
with threadless binding and unsewn binding. See also: double-fan adhesive binding,
notched binding, Otabind, and perfect binding.
Latin for "to this," used to indicate that something was created or exists for the
particular purpose in view at the moment. Also refers to something organized for a
specific purpose, for example, an ad hoc committee elected or appointed to address a
specific issue or handle an unanticipated contingency, usually dissolved once the need
has been met.
A librarian employed part-time in an academic library at an institution that grants
librarians faculty status. Synonymous with part-time faculty.
See: fixed shelving.
An abbreviation of the Latin phrase ad locum meaning "at the place cited".
The range of activities normally associated with the management of a government
agency, organization, or institution, such as a library or library system. Also refers
collectively to the persons responsible for such activity, from director to secretary.
See also: library administration.
In archives, the part of a finding aid that provides pertinent information concerning
the records it lists and describes, such as the history and organizational structure of
the agency (or group of related agencies) that generated them, or significant details in
the life and career of the individual or family with which they are associated, usually
in the form of a biographical note.
See: archival value.
A document exchange program created by Adobe Systems which allows data files
created on one software platform (DOS, Windows, Macintosh, etc.) to be displayed
and printed on another without loss of text formatting. This capability is particularly
important in communication over the Internet which interconnects computers of all
types and sizes. Adobe Systems sells the software required to create or convert
documents to its Portable Document Format, but does not charge users for the
software needed to read PDF documents. The Acrobat Reader program can be
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downloaded directly from the company Web site at: www.adobe.com. See also:
A fully grown, mentally competent person of sufficient age to be considered capable
of making mature decisions and held legally accountable for the consequences of his
(or her) actions. Libraries operate on the assumption that adult patrons are capable of
deciding independently what they wish to read and borrow. Although it is the
responsibility of the parent to supervise the actions of a child, it is appropriate for
librarians to provide guidance to children in the selection of materials suitable to their
age level and interests, if asked to do so. See also: readers’ advisory.
Courses designed specifically for adults who have spent their lives outside the system
of formal higher education. Because nontraditional students often lack the library
skills of students who follow a traditional course of study, they may require more
assistance at the reference desk and a more basic level of bibliographic instruction.
A person older than traditional college age, who pursues an independent, organized
course of study, usually without the benefit of formal instruction at an established
educational institution. When enrolled as a nontraditional student at a college or
university, such a person may require reference services and bibliographic instruction
at a more basic level than traditional students.
Materials, services, and programs intended to meet the needs of the adult users of a
public library, as opposed to those designed for children and young adults. See also:
A copy of a book or other publication bound in advance of the normal press run to
enable the publisher to check that all is in order before binding of the edition
proceeds. Advance copies are also sent to booksellers, book club selection
committees, and reviewers before the announced publication date, sometimes
unbound or in a binding other than the publisher’s binding, often with a review slip
laid in. Copies sent unbound are known as advance sheets. Synonymous with early
copy. Compare with reading copy and review copy.
advance on royalty
An amount paid to the author(s) of a new book prior to its publication against the
royalties it is expected to earn, usually offered as an inducement to sign a book
contract with the publisher. Synonymous with author’s advance. See also: publisher’s
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An order placed for a new book prior to its date of publication, usually in response to
prepublication promotion. The number of copies ordered in advance may assist the
publisher in determining the size of the first printing, the price, and how much to
spend on advertising.
See: advance copy.
Advertising text written in editorial style and format. To avoid confusion, most
magazine publishers add the word "Advertisement" to the running head.
Advertisements bound into a book, usually at the end of the back matter. Abbreviated
ads or advrts.
See: library advocate.
A map of the earth, or of another planetary body, composed of one or more
photographs taken from a position above its surface, usually from a passing aircraft,
satellite, or space vehicle. See also: photomosaic.
A separately administered organization closely connected with another by formal
agreement, for example, the various organizations affiliated with the American
Library Association (ALA). Also refers to the process of forming such a link. See
also: affiliated library.
A library which is, by formal agreement, part of a larger library system but
administered independently by its own board or management structure. Medical and
law libraries at large universities often fall into this category. Compare with branch
An active effort, begun in the late 1960’s, to enhance opportunities in the United
States for minority groups and women, through federal regulations and programs
intended to counteract bias and discrimination in government employment and
contracting, and in admissions to state-supported educational institutions. Most
publicly supported libraries in the U.S. are affirmative action employers. The legality
of affirmative action has been called into question by individuals and political groups
who believe that legislating equality discourages initiative and results in reverse
discrimination. See also: diversity.
against the grain
A popular expression meaning "contrary to natural inclination" originally used in the
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printing trade to refer to machine-made paper folded across the grain of its fibers. In
book production, sheets are printed with the grain running from top to bottom of the
leaves, allowing them to flex easily lengthwise after they are bound. When folded
with the grain, paper tears easily and cleanly along the fold. When folded across the
grain, it cracks and leaves a ragged edge when torn.
Against the Grain (ATG)
A bimonthly journal providing news about libraries, publishers, book jobbers, and
subscription agents, with reports on the issues, literature, and people affecting books
and journals. Click here to connect to the ATG homepage.
For archival purposes, any commercial enterprise, organization, institution, or other
corporate body that creates and manages records of its business, activities, or affairs.
In very large organizations, subordinate units (sections, departments, offices) may
function as separate agencies. In a more general sense, any person (agent) or
organization that has the authority to perform a specific function, for example, the
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). See also: government agency.
A list of topics or issues to be discussed at a meeting, sometimes solicited from
prospective attendees in advance by the person who calls or chairs the meeting. It is
customary to distribute the agenda before the meeting begins, to allow attendees time
to prepare. A hidden agenda is a goal or intention consciously or unconsciously
concealed, usually to gain the advantage of surprise, a tactic that often backfires when
unsuspecting persons discover that they have been manipulated.
An individual or company that acts as middle-man between a library or library system
and a publisher in the purchase of materials, for example, a subscription service such
as EBSCO or FAXON that manages periodical subscriptions for client libraries. See
also: literary agent.
A bibliographic service that provides online access to the digital full-text of
periodicals published by different publishers. Because aggregator databases can be
very large, tracking their coverage is not an easy task for serials librarians. A task
group of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) is working on standards for
analytic catalog records for serials titles available electronically from aggregator
services. Currently, the top three journal aggregators in the United States are EBSCO,
Gale Group, and ProQuest. Recently, EBSCO has been building market share by
offering higher up-front payments to secure exclusivity from the publishers of certain
journals. The effects of this competitive practice on libraries and the end-user are as
See: artificial intelligence.
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See: American Institute of Graphic Arts.
See: Association of Independent Information Professionals.
See: American Indian Library Association.
The space left unoccupied between two parallel bookcases or shelf ranges, or at right
angles to a bank of ranges, to allow library patrons and staff to access the stacks.
Minimum aisle width is 36 inches in libraries open to the public in the United States.
Some types of compact shelving allow staff or users to shift movable ranges, usually
along tracks in the floor, opening aisles as needed. See also: cross aisle and range
See: Association of Jewish Libraries.
An abbreviation of "also known as." See: allonym, eponym, pen name, and
See: American Libraries.
See: American Library Association.
ALA Allied Professional Organization (APA)
A separate adjunct organization operating under bylaws approved by the governing
Council of the American Library Association at the 2002 Midwinter Meeting, which
allows the ALA to conduct activities prohibited under its current 501(c)(3) tax status.
In the planning stages since 1996, the APA will be able to offer postgraduate
specialty certification, advocate for pay equity, and address other issues related to the
professional status of librarians, as a 501(c)(6) entity. Click here to connect to the
See: ALA Allied Professional Association.
ALA character set
The set of characters defined by the American Library Association for use in the
MARC record, including the characters of the Latin alphabet, special characters,
diacritics, 14 superscript characters, 14 subscript characters, and 3 Greek letters.
ALA Code of Ethics
See: code of ethics.
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Established in 1886, the Publishing Section of the American Library Association first
evolved into ALA Books and Pamphlets, and then into ALA Editions in 1993. Its
roster of first editions includes Reference Books for Libraries (1902), Books for
College Libraries (1967), Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (1967), and the
Intellectual Freedom Manual (1974). Income from annual sales of over 100,000
copies of titles published by ALA Editions supports ALA’s other programs.
Publications currently available from ALA Editions are listed in its trade catalog.
Click here to connect to the homepage of ALA Editions.
ALA Filing Rules
A set of guidelines for determining the order in which entries are to be filed in a
library catalog, originally published by the American Library Association in 1942
under the title A.L.A. Rules for Filing Catalog Cards. Revised in 1967 to correspond
with Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, the filing rules were expanded and published
under the current title in 1980 to cover any form of bibliographic display (print,
microform, digital, etc.) and any catalog code.
A marketing section of the American Library Association that sells posters,
bookplates, bookmarks, T-shirts, and other graphic materials designed to promote
libraries, literacy, and reading. ALA graphics can be ordered from a printed catalog or
electronically from the ALA Online Store.
A bound or loose-leaf book containing blank pages for mounting stamps,
photographs, poems, quotations, newspaper clippings, or other memorabilia, or for
collecting autographs. Also, a book containing a collection of pictures, with or
without accompanying text. Also refers to a book of sleeves designed to hold
phonograph records, usually enclosed in an illustrated pasteboard cover with a list of
the contents and descriptive notes printed on the inside.
A semi-private recessed area within a library, formed when two free-standing
shelving units are placed at right angles to one or more units of wall shelving, usually
large enough to provide access to materials on the shelves and to accommodate a
small number of readers, seated at desks or around a study table. The architect Sir
Christopher Wren is credited with originating this style of seating in his design of the
library at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1676. Synonymous with cell. See also:
See: Association for Library Collections and Technical Services.
Founded by Ptolemy I in about 300 BC, the great library at Alexandria in Egypt
became the most important center of Hellenistic culture in antiquity. At its peak, it
contained over 500,000 manuscripts, mostly papyrus scrolls, some of which were
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translated into Greek from other languages. The collection was cataloged in the
"Pinakes" of Callimachus which included the author’s name and a summary of the
content of each item. The main library was part of a museum that functioned as an
academy, attracting scholars from all parts of the Mediterranean world. A smaller
library was established in the Temple of Serapis by Ptolemy III in about 235 BC.
Although the main library was damaged in 47 BC during the siege by Julius Caesar,
both libraries flourished under the Romans until the civil war that occurred in the late
3rd century AD under the Emperor Aurelian. The smaller library was destroyed in
391 AD by edict of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius. In 1987, UNESCO embarked
on a project in cooperation with the government of Egypt to revive the Library at
Alexandria as a center of culture, science, and academic research. Click here to
connect to the Web site of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. See also: Pergamum.
A finite sequence of unambiguous steps or instructions, designed to solve a complex
problem or accomplish a specific task in a way that produces at least one output, for
example, a formula used to encrypt data. Algorithms can be expressed in natural
language (example: a culinary recipe or the instructions for assembling an item
shipped in pieces), in a symbolic language such as that used in mathematical logic, or
in a computer programming language. One measure of proficiency in programming is
the ability to create elegant algorithms that achieve the desired result in a minimum
number of ingenious steps. See also: automatic indexing.
See: Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences.
A shortened form of an e-mail address that allows a computer user to type a brief
identifier (example: susan) to send a message to a person whose full e-mail address is
much longer (susanmillerlibrary.myuniversity.edu). Compare with macro.
Also, an assumed name, especially one adopted by a person engaged in illegal activity
to avoid detection and possible prosecution. Compare with pseudonym.
A commercial company that specializes in supplying rare, out of print, and
hard-to-find books to bookstores, libraries, and retail customers through a worldwide
network of booksellers and distribution capabilities. Click here to connect to the
In typography, the arrangement of characters in a line of type in such a way that the
tops and bottoms form a straight line across the page, parallel with other lines. Also,
the setting of type in lines that are even at both right and left margins. Compare in this
sense with justification.
In a more general sense, the lining up of type or graphic matter in relation to any
common horizontal or vertical line for printing on a page.
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See: Association for Library and Information Science Education.
Substances with a pH exceeding 7.0 (neutral), for example, calcium carbonate or
magnesium carbonate added to paper in manufacture as a reserve or buffer to
neutralize any acids that might develop with age. Alkaline substances are also used in
the deacidification of materials made from acid paper or board.
See: all along.
A sewing method used in hand-binding in which each section of the text-block is
sewn separately to cords or tapes, from kettle stitch to kettle stitch inside the fold. For
the sake of economy or to reduce swell, sections may be hand sewn two on.
Synonymous with all across and all on.
A narrative that can be interpreted literally, but which also has at least one symbolic
meaning, usually expressing or elucidating an abstract idea or moral principle. Also, a
form of extended metaphor used primarily in works of fiction and poetry in which an
event, idea, thing, or person stands for itself and simultaneously for something else. A
dream allegory is a medieval poem or story about a dream that has allegorical
significance, for example, King Rene’s Book of Love (Le Cueur d’Amours Espris).
See also: beast epic, fable, morality play, and parable.
An expression used in the antiquarian book trade and in library cataloging to indicate
that all the items in a group of publications are known to be first editions.
Allied Professional Association
See: ALA Allied Professional Association.
A quantity of time, money, materials, or other resources reserved by an organization
for a specific purpose, usually to meet a need essential to realizing its goals and
objectives. In most libraries and library systems, funds are allocated in accordance
with an annual or biennial budget determined by the availability of funds.
See: all along.
The name of a person known to have existed, assumed as a pen name by another
writer, as opposed to a fictional pseudonym. For example, the name "Publius" for the
Roman tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher, used by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and
James Madison in writing The Federalist.
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