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Glossary of Library Terms: C


Call number: An identification code assigned to a library collection item (book, video or audio recording, manuscript, periodical, musical score, etc.) that distinguishes one item from another and indicates its location in the library. Call numbers are arranged by subject, except in Government Documents Collections which may be arranged according to SuDocs classification. SuDocs is based on issuing of government agency.

Catalog: A library catalog is an organized written collection of all the materials (books, videos, journal subscriptions, films, audio recordings, etc.) held by that library. Traditionally each item in a catalog was represented on a written index card that gave information on the item and pointed researchers to the location of the item in the collection. Now most catalogs are stored in computer databases and are accessed through OPACs. A union catalog is a catalog that represents multiple libraries.

Check Out:  To borrow library materials for a specified period of time.

Circulating:  Material that can be checked out of the library. Some materials, such as those in Reference, and Archives/ Special Collections, are non-circulating

Citation: A citation is a standardized description of an item (book, article, video or audio recording, etc.) containing sufficient information necessary to locate the item. Citations in modern indexes are usually accompanied by abstracts summarizing the information in the articles or other documents represented. More and more, in online indexes a citation leads directly to the full text of the article represented, either in the same database or via a link to another site. But it is still often necessary to find in the library the original printed article for the full text.

Basic required elements of citations include author, title, and publication information.

  • A citation for a book:
    Author, title, place of publication, name of publisher, date.

Example: Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribner, 1996.

  • A citation for a magazine article:
    Author (if any), article title, journal title, volume and issue number (if any), date, page number(s).

Example: Uhrmacher, P. Bruce. "Finding the Balance between Process and product through perceptual Lesson Planning." Teachers College Record, 115.7 2013:1.

Citation style: A standardized system for citing materials used when writing books or papers. Citation styles are often created by professional organizations such the Modern Language Association (MLA) or publishers such as the University of Chicago Press (Chicago Manual of Style). For more information on citation styles, click the link.

Cite: The act of indicating the source of information. Authors cite their sources for two important reasons: 1. to give credit to the originator of an idea or research they wish to discuss, and 2. to allow readers to locate the source of the information and read it in context.

Classification System:  The method used to group materials by subject. Florida A & M University uses the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS classification system to assign call numbers to materials.


Collation: The description of a book, including number of leaves and pages and if it has a bibliography, illustrations, etc.

Controlled vocabulary: Set of established terms used in indexes, catalogs, and databases used to provide access to records. Library of Congress subject headings are one example of controlled vocabulary.

Copyright: – Is the privilege granted by a government to an author, composer, or artist to publish and sell their original work.  Copyright establishes ownership of information.  Always assume that information belongs to someone and give credit to the original author by citing the source.

Corporate Author: A body, such as a government or governmental department, institution, society, corporation, etc. which authorizes the publication of materials and under the name of which, as author, the materials will be entered in a catalog. In the online catalog, an Author search should be done to find corporate authors.


Cross References: Instructions which lead to related information listed under other subject headings or terms. A cross reference may be a "See" reference to the "correct" heading or a "SEE ALSO" reference to a related heading.

Current Periodicals: Issues of a magazine or journal which have been published in the last year or two which are shelved in the Periodicals ROOM (3rd floor Main).