Skip to main content

Common Library Terms & Acronyms

Below is an alphabetical list of terms and acronyms to help you navigate the Library. We welcome your suggestions for additions to the list – send us an email!

A
accession number
Identifying number for a document in a database.
ACMS (now ETS)
UC San Diego's Academic Computing & Media Services, now renamed Educational Technology Services: which provides a wide array of services to the UC San Diego Campus in support of faculty, students, and staff.
Annex
Off-site storage facility for UC San Diego library materials. Request delivery of materials from the annex to campus library through the Request link in UC Library Search for UC San Diego Library cardholders. For non cardholders, email annexrequests@ucsd.edu
APA style
Set of rules and guidelines for citing references, as well as preparing and submitting manuscripts for publication from the American Psychological Association; detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Ask-A-Librarian
Ask a Librarian allows library users to ask questions through email or live chat instead of visiting the library reference desk to ask in person. Also referred to as online, digital, or electronic reference.

TOP

B
barcode
Printed label containing machine-readable data in the form of vertical lines or bars. Used to identify books and other materials in the library; read by a scanner when item is checked out. Also the 14-digit number found on the back of one's campus ID card.
bindery
An operation that repairs books that are damaged and/or combines (binds) loose issues of journals into a single volume. Items sent to the bindery are not available to users until they come back to the library.
bound periodical
Older issues of periodicals that have been bound (combined) together as a book to preserve them and make storage easier.

TOP

C
call number
An alpha numeric code that appears on a book or other item to indicate where it should be found on the shelves. UC San Diego uses the Library of Congress call number system.
catalog
Online database with detailed descriptions and location information for materials in a library collection. UC San Diego's local catalog is called UC Library Search.
chat reference
Real-time service provided by librarians over the internet that allows you to ask questions from anywhere. UC San Diego uses Ask-A-Librarian email to provide this service.
check out
Borrow materials from a library for a fixed period of time. Loan periods, borrowing limits, and renewal policies vary depending upon the status of the borrower (faculty, graduate student, undergraduate, etc.) and / or the type of item.
circulate
To loan library materials to users. Most UC San Diego library materials circulate (can be checked out).
Circuit, San Diego
Service allowing UC San Diego library cardholders to borrow books from local partner libraries (San Diego State University, University of San Diego, San Diego City & County public libraries). If a book is not available at UC San Diego, link to Circuit from the UC San Diego catalog and use the Request feature to have items sent to UC San Diego for pick-up and use.
circulation desk (Front Desk)
The service desk near the main entrance where you can check out, return, or renew library materials and get other types of assistance; currently referred to as the Front Desk.
citation index
An index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which later documents cite which earlier documents (i.e. PubMed, Web of Science).
classification
A method of arranging materials such as books or journals, often by topic. The UC San Diego Library uses Library of Congress (LC) Classification for most materials. Use of classification allows library users to browse shelves to find additional items on the same or related subjects.
compact shelving
Type of library shelving using movable shelves to maximize storage capacity and space. Currently used on Geisel's 1st and 2nd Floors and on WongAvery Library's 2nd Floor.
course reserves
Reserves are course-related materials made available, either electronically or physically, through the UC San Diego Library. Items that may be on reserve for a class include images, audio files, journal articles, videos, book chapters, course readers, etc. Restrictions on use of reserve materials vary. For more information on course reserves see the Library Reserves FAQ.
current periodicals
Most recent issues of a journal, magazine, or newspaper that a library has received.

TOP

D
database
A collection of related data (articles or other materials) organized for online access. See the UC San Diego Library list of available databases.
dissertation
A document submitted by a scholar for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. Most common for PhDs.

TOP

E
East Asia Collection
Collection located on 4th floor of Geisel Library which focuses on collecting modern and contemporary Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) language materials in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, sociology, linguistics, art, film studies, philosophy, economy business, political science, and international relations pertaining to each region.
e-book
Also known as an electronic book, it is a book publication made available in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on the flat-panel display of computers or other electronic devices. Available through the library catalog and through subscription services made available by the Library.
ETS
UC San Diego's Educational Technology Services (formerly ACMS); visit Services for Students for information on passwords and printing accounts.
embargo
Period during which articles in a periodical are not available in full-text online; usually the 3, 6, or 12 most recent months. Some theses/dissertations may also be embargoed for periods of 1-3 years.
EndNote
Citation management tool; see this guide for tips on choosing and using citation tools.
e-reserves
Also known as electronic or online reserves, are materials made available online, including e-books, book excerpts, journal articles, audio and image files and non-copyrighted material such as syllabi and lecture notes. E-reserves are accessed through Course Reserves.

TOP

F
full-text
Refers to a database or other electronic resource that provides the entire text of the works it contains (e.g., journal articles), in addition to the citation and abstract of each work.

TOP

G
GIS
Geographic Information System is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Working with GIS involves using specialized software to display, analyze, and organize information, often using maps or other visual displays, in addition to helping manage data. Tools and assistance are available in the Data & GIS Lab located in Geisel's West Commons (2nd Floor).
government document
Publication created by a government (hearings, reports, treaties, periodicals, statistics, etc.). The government documents collection for the UC San Diego Library is in Geisel's West Commons (2nd Floor).

TOP

H
hold
A hold is a request to have a book, journal, or other material delivered to the library for your use. The item is placed on the self-service hold shelf near the Front Desk for a limited time for pickup. Holds can generally be placed on circulating library materials.

TOP

I
Imprints
Campus unit that provides printing services in the library. In addition, a full menu of print, creative and document services. The main Imprints office is in the Campus Services Complex.
interlibrary loan (ILL)
Library service whereby students, faculty, and staff may request to borrow materials from another library if the item is not owned by UC San Diego.

TOP

J
journal
Publication distributed periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.), devoted to a specific field of study. Journals usually contain scholarly articles written by researchers or experts in the field.

TOP

L
LibGuides
Research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by librarians to assist with particular classes, subjects, and resources.
library card
Your UC San Diego ID card serves as your library card. Always have your ID card available for checkout of library materials. See also loan periods.
Library of Congress (LC) Classification
Classification system used by the Library of Congress to arrange materials by subject using a combination of letters and numbers (call number). This system is used for most UC San Diego library collections.
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
Standard list of words or groups of words under which books and other material on a subject are entered in a catalog. These are helpful when searching the online catalog and are included in catalog records.
loan period
Amount of time library materials may be borrowed (checked out); varies depending on type of material borrowed and the borrower's status (student, faculty, staff). Learn more about borrowing policies or visit your library account for due dates of borrowed material.

TOP

M
media
Non-print materials such as films, filmstrips, videocassettes, audio compact discs, audiocassettes, and vinyl LPs.
MeSH
Medical Subject Headings are standards list of words or groups of words under which books and other material on a subject are entered in a catalog. These are used to provide consistent access to medical resources and are helpful when searching the online catalog; used in online catalogs, the PubMed database, and other related medical databases.
microforms
Film medium for storage of miniaturized text. Microforms are located in the Geisel Library West Commons (2nd Floor) and include:
  • microfiche: 4x6 inch sheet of transparent film
  • microfilm: Continuous roll of transparent film - usually journals or magazines.
  • microcard: 4x6 inch sheet of opaque card
monograph
A non-serial publication that is complete in one volume (book) or a finite number of volumes. Books or reports are usually monographs, periodicals are not.
My ILL / My ILL Requests
The list of items you have requested through interlibrary loan (ILL). Visit your MyILL page to check the status of requested items and view or request to renew items you have checked out.
My Library Account
The list of items you have requested or checked out from the library. Click on My Library Account from the library homepage or click on Sign In from within UC Library Search. You can see when items are due and renew them from here.

TOP

N
NRLF
Short for the Northern Regional Library Facility, a large cooperative library storage facility housing infrequently used library materials belonging to northern University of California libraries. Use UC Library Search to request items from NRLF be delivered to campus or to request delivery of a scan of an article.

TOP

P
patron
Term often used for a library user.
peer-reviewed
Review of an article by experts in the field (the authors' peers) that journal editors, based on the reviewers' comments, determine if the article should be accepted or rejected.
periodical
Publication distributed on a regular schedule (e.g., weekly or monthly). Popular periodicals are called magazines and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Newspapers are also periodicals.

TOP

R
rare book
Valuable book which so difficult to find that it seldom appears for sale. Most libraries keep their rare books in special collections to which access is restricted.
recall
Although we offer extended due dates for the convenience of our users, these due dates are not guaranteed. If an item that is checked out is needed for course reserve or by a user at the item's home institution, they may recall the item from the original borrower, which will shorten the original checkout period.
renew
Extend the checkout period of library material; multiple renewals are generally permitted for UC San Diego Library material unless another user has requested the item; reserves may not be renewed.
reserves
Reserves are course-related materials made available, either electronically or physically, through the UC San Diego Library. Items that may be on reserve for a class include images, audio files, journal articles, videos, book chapters, course readers, etc. Restrictions on use of reserve materials vary. For more information on course reserves see Library Reserves.

TOP

S
San Diego Circuit
Service allowing UC San Diego Library cardholders to borrow books from local partner libraries (San Diego State University, University of San Diego, San Diego City & County public libraries). If a book is not available at UC San Diego, link to Circuit from the catalog and use the Request feature to have items sent to UC San Diego for pick-up and use. Additional details are at What is San Diego Circuit.
scholarly journal
Periodical containing scholarly articles on research and development, usually characterized by a list of references at the end of the articles and written by experts in the subject area.
secondary source
Interpretations and commentary on primary sources; these may include biographies, dissertations, journal articles, and indexes or bibliographies.
self-checkout or self-check
Machines for self-service checkout of library materials located near the entrances of both Geisel and WongAvery. A UC San Diego Library card is required.
serial
Term describing a wide range of publications issued in successive parts with no predictable end in sight. Magazines, journals, newspapers, annual reports, some conference proceedings, and annual reviews are examples.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) Archives
A collection of materials that document the history of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Materials may be consulted in Special Collections & Archives (SCA) located on Geisel Library's 2nd Floor.
Special Collections (& Archives)
Special Collections & Archives (SCA) house a wide range of rare books, manuscripts, periodicals, maps, photographs, artworks, films, sound recordings, archives, and digital files. These materials may not be checked out, but may be consulted in the library. SCA is located on Geisel Library's 2nd Floor and include Mandeville Special Collections (MSC), the UCSD Archives, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Archives.
SRLF
Short for the Southern Regional Library Facility, a large cooperative library storage facility housing infrequently used library materials belonging to southern University of California libraries. Use UC Library Search to request items from SRLF be delivered to campus or to request delivery of a scan of an article.
stacks
Area of shelving in a library where books and periodicals are stored.
SuDocs number
Classification number assigned to and used to arrange U.S. federal government documents. The SuDocs classification system differs from that of the Library of Congress used elsewhere in the Library.

TOP

T
thesis/theses
Publication(s) reporting original scholarship typically required for a master's degree.

TOP

V
volume
Single book or bound periodical, often part of a set of books or series of periodicals.
VPN (Virtual Protected Network)
Enables a UC San Diego user who is off campus to access databases that are restricted to UC San Diego use only. Visit Connect from Off-Campus to set up your home computer using the VPN.

TOP

Last updated: May 2022

Library Card

Your identification card is also your Library card! You can use your campus app version as well!

UCSD ID Card

See Also