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Library Glossary: Library Glossary

Built using Davidson College Library's Glossary of Library Terms:

Library terms: Navigation

Confused by library terms? Consult the following list for help.

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Library terms


AAA Style
See entry for American Anthropological Association Style

A short, usually non-evaluative description of the contents of a book, an article, or another library resource.  Abstracts often appear in online database records.

ACS Style
See entry for American Chemical Society Style

Advanced Search
An option often found in online catalogs, indexes, and databases that allows users to refine their search criteria and search specific fields.  Options vary by database; check the "Help" screens or ask a librarian.  Our online catalog, Virgo, has an advanced search option. 

AMA Style
See entry for American Medical Association Style

American Anthropological Association Style
Used for scholarly writing in Anthropology. The style is based on the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition), but it has a few unique features. For more information, see the AAA Style Guide.

American Chemical Society Style
Used by students and researchers in the field of chemistry. For more information, see the ACM Citation Style and Reference Guide.

American Medical Association Style
Used for scholarly writing about medicine, health, and other subjects in the sciences. For more information, see the AMA Manual of Style.

American Psychological Association Style
Used by students and scholars in the social sciences, especially in the fields of psychology and sociology. For more information, see the APA Style Guide.

American Sociological Association Style
Used for scholarly writing in sociology. For more information, see Quick Tips for ASA Style

Annotated Bibliography
A list of citations with accompanying notes that summarize and/or evaluate the subject matter or content of each work.

APA Style
See entry for American Psychological Association Style

UVA Library’s open access press and publishes peer reviewed, high-quality journals, open educational resources, and other resources.

(a) A special collection of non-circulating historical materials related to a library or institution. The inactive records of an organization, business or government kept for their long-term value.
(b) The area of the library that houses these records. The physical building or space within a building that houses these materials. At UVA, this is the Small Special Collections Library.
(c) A type of library that collects and preserves materials of long-term value.

A relatively short, nonfiction text on a topic by one or more authors, usually published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper.  You will find many articles in online databases, but we also have articles in print and microform formats.

ASA Style
See entry for American Sociological Association Style

(a) A volume of maps.
(b) A group of plates illustrating a topic, such as botany.


(a) A list of citations to works used by an author to write a paper, article, or book.  See also the entries for Works Cited and References.
(b) A list of books, articles, and other sources on a particular subject, about a particular person, or published in a specific region or time period.

Boolean Operator
The three primary Boolean operators - AND, OR, and NOT - can be used to group search terms.  They are primarily used in keyword searches.

Brown Library
Science and Engineering Library. Sometimes referred to by the university community as Clark Library, as the Library is inside Clark Hall. Holds undergraduate-level materials in astronomy, biology, chemistry, math, physics, and psychology. It also has research collections that support students and faculty in the Engineering and Environmental Sciences programs. Includes reservable spaces for collaborative study and teleconferencing. Brown also houses specialized research support — including Research Liaisons for the Sciences and Engineering and Research Data Services, where you can find support for data analysis and statistical methods and the computational data sciences.


Call Number
An alphanumeric code that identifies a specific book or other item in the library and also indicates its location within the library.  Call numbers can also indicate the general subject content of a book.  The UVA Library uses the Library of Congress systems for most materials; government documents, however, are shelved by SUDOC number.

A table or workspace for an individual library user.  Many UVA library carrels are assigned to individual users (grad students) who can keep books and personal materials in their carrel.  However, when the assigned patron is not using their carrel it can be used by other patrons, provided they do not disturb the carrel's contents.

A list or inventory of all the materials within a specific collection or at a particular location.  UVA Library's catalog, Virgo, includes information about the books, journals, magazines, newspapers, musical recordings, maps, videos/DVDs, and other materials in the Library.

Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)
Located in Hotel D of the East Range, the CTE provides support for student learning and for instructors. 

Check Out
To borrow an item for a specific amount of time.  Items can be checked out at the Information Desk using a UVA ID or community patron account.  Information about loan periods are located here.

Chicago Style
The Chicago Notes & Bibliography style is used by students and scholars in the humanities; the Chicago Author-Date style is used by students and scholars in the physical and social sciences. For more information, see the Purdue OWL Chicago Style Guide

The department of the Library that handles book check-outs and returns as well as reserves and holds. 

Circulation Desk
See Information Desk.

Information about a book, journal article, or other source; it includes all of the information needed to identify this source, such as author, title, publication information, date, and page numbers.  Different disciplines require different citation styles; see the appropriate style manual for more information. 

Clark Hall
See Brown Library 

A system for arranging library materials in a logical order according to subject or form.  See Library of Congress Classification to learn more about the system used at UVA Library.

Clemons Library
Popular with students for abundant, 24-hour study space and media-related materials and services, Clemons is one of the busiest libraries on Grounds. Our large DVD selection and comprehensive collection of books on film, television, drama and dance provide everything a scholar needs. Also houses the Robertson Media Center and the Scholars' Lab.

Clippings File
This is an old-form reference tool consisting of newspaper clippings on various topics pertaining to Charlottesville and UVA collected by UVA reference librarians from the 1960s through the 1980s.  Located in Clemons Library, researchers should use the Ask A Librarian feature and/or ask at the reference service point to access this resource.

(a) A group of library or archival materials, sometimes on a single subject or related subjects.
(b) Multiple independent works by a single author or multiple authors that are published together.

Research consultations provide UVA students, faculty, and staff with the opportunity to meet individually (or in small groups) with a librarian to discuss strategies and information sources for research projects, class assignments, papers, presentations, honors theses, and more.  The librarians offer both drop-in consultations and scheduled appointments.  Meetings usually last thirty minutes to an hour.  To request a consultation, get in touch with your subject librarian.

Controlled Vocabulary
A set of terms that have been carefully selected in order to avoid having multiple terms for the same subject; indexers often use a controlled vocabulary when they assign subject headings or descriptors to articles or books.  A controlled vocabulary "controls" synonyms and is thus a powerful tool to use when searching databases.

Copyright is a complex regulatory scheme meant to encourage the creation and dissemination of creative works including scholarly books and articles, novels, motion pictures, architecture, software, and works of visual art. The Constitution permits Congress to “promote the progress of Science” by awarding copyrights to authors for “limited times.” Copyright gives authors and industries who employ them an opportunity to benefit economically from covered works, but it also protects the public’s right to use copyrighted works in socially valuable ways, including fair use. Understanding your rights as an author and as a user will ensure that copyright serves its ultimate purpose of promoting progress for all. More information about copyright can be found at UVA Library Copyright Resources.

Corks and Curls
UVA's yearbook, starting in 1888.  Physical copies can be browsed in the Reference Collection (currently housed on the first floor of Clemons).  It is also available online on this page (hint: use the control+F function to find a particular year, as it is not arranged in chronological order). 

Council of Science Editors Style
Used by students and researchers in the sciences. This citation style, was formerly put out by the Council of Biology Editors (CBE). For more information, see the CSE Style Guide.

Course Reserves
Books, articles, videos, sound recordings, and other materials selected by a professor for use by a class. Most course reserves will be available through your Collab or Canvas class page. Print course reserves can be searched here to find the item and Library location. Instructors can learn more about reserves and how to request course reserves here. Print reserves have a limited check-out window to ensure they can be used by many students in a short period of time.  The most common is a three-hour check-out for in-library use.  Any patron may check-out a print reserve regardless of whether they are enrolled in the class it is on reserve for, but the loan period remains the same for all users. 

See entry for Council of Science Editors Style

See entry for Center for Teaching Excellence.


A system that organizes and arranges data into fields and provides the means to sort, group, and retrieve information from those fields.  In the library, a database is an electronic index that contains information about articles, books, reference sources, and/or images.  Most databases can be searched by fields like author, title of article and publication, and date.  Some databases cover many disciplines and others cover only one subject area.  For a list of UVA databases, see the Research Guides.

See the entry for subject heading.

Dewey Decimal Classification
A classification for library items devised by Melvil Dewey.  Dewey call numbers typically have three whole numbers followed by decimal numbers.  This call number system is most commonly used by school and public library, however most academic libraries use the Library of Congress Call Number system.  See Dewey Decimal System:  An Outline.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
A persistent identifier to uniquity identify a scholar object such as a journal article, dataset, or book chapter. They aid in locating objects and can be represented as a permanent URL (ex.[insert doi])

A lengthy treatise on research submitted by a doctoral candidate.  The database ProQuest Dissertations & Theses contains the largest collection of dissertations to which UVA has access, written by both UVA students and students at other institutions.  Libra, our online institutional repository, contains dissertations and theses written by UVA grad students since 2012.  All dissertations and theses written by UVA students, whether print or online, can be found in Virgo.

Document Delivery
A service which allows users to request an electronic copy of an article that the Library has in print or microform.  Submit a request using ILLiad.  For more information about document delivery, see Document Delivery:  An Introduction.

Durable URL
Provides consistent access to a website, even if the site's address changes with hardware or file re-configurations.  Also called a permalink, persistent link, PURL or stable URL.  For more information, see our Linking to Full Text Resources guide.


A digital version of a book that can be viewed on, and sometimes downloaded to, a computer or other electronic device.  Ebooks are available to current UVA students, faculty, and staff members on and off-grounds.  Search Virgo to see UVA's ebook offerings.  

Ebsco eBook Academic Collection
A database with over 113,000 e-books in a wide variety of subject areas.  With an Ebscohost account, you may add notes, create virtual bookmarks, and download e-books to read them offline. See instructions on downloading ebooks to a desktop computer and downloading to an iPad.

Edited Volume
A multi-chapter scholarly work written by different authors. They are usually peer reviewed and often times part of a book series.

A person who prepares other people's work for publication.  This may include selection of articles or chapters for books and may involve making considerable revisions, translations, or contributions to the finished publication.

A digital version of a journal that can be viewed on a computer or other device.

e-Reserves/Electronic Reserves
See the entry for course reserves.


Fair Use
The flexible legal right to use copyrighted materials without payment or permission in circumstances where the purposes of copyright (to encourage creativity and access to knowledge) are better served by free use than by rights holder control. For more information about fair use, see the Library’s fair use page.

A defined category of information in a record, such as author (AU), title (TI), or keyword (KW).  Users can search for terms in an online catalog or database using specified fields.  Field names and the information contained within them can vary in databases; always check the "Help" screens or ask a librarian.

Fine Arts Library
The Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library provides research support and collections for the Schools of Architecture, Art History, Archeology, and the Classics Department. The Fine Arts Library offers research and software consultation, image scanning, and spaces for quiet study, collaboration, meetings, and video conferencing. In addition, the Fine Arts Library features the Niche, a venue for new video art the Materials Collection, which contains building samples, and the R Lab, a space dedicated to collaborative work, which has special reservation options to accommodate faculty.

Library patrons receive fines for overdue items and lost materials. For more information about library fines, click here

(a) A printing size in which each sheet of paper is folded only once after printing.  Usually, this results in a large (in terms of height and depth) volume.
(b) A specific edition of a book printed on folio pages, such as Shakespeare's first folio.
The Fine Arts Library has a large collection of folios.  Because of their size these items can only be used while in the library building.

A note or reference at the bottom of the page. See the entry for citation

Full Text
The complete text of an article, book, or other item.  The full text may be in Microsoft Word, HTML, or pdf format.  


Georges Student Center 
Based in Clemons Library on the 2nd floor, connecting students to resources and student support offices. Also known as Total Advising. 

Government Documents/Government Information
Documents and other information issued by the United States Government, state governments, and foreign governments.  Government documents may include books and serials.  The UVA Library is the Regional Repository for Virginia, which means they retain a copy  of all items distributed by the Federal Depository Library Program.  The majority of UVA Library's government documentation collection is held in our off-site storage facility and can be requested through Virgo.  Federal Government Documents are shelved using the Superintendent of Documents call number system (SUDOC).  UVA library also has an extensive collection of Virginia documents.  For more information on government information in the Library, see the Federal Depository Collection page.

An online aid that may include information about research, resources, library or archive holdings, or tutorials.  Guides are located in the Research Guides.


A service offered through the library catalog, Virgo.  When a book you want is checked out, you can request a "hold."  Library staff will reserve the book and contact you when the other user returns it.  For assistance in placing a hold, ask at the Information Desk.

Information about the books, journals, newspapers, and magazines owned by the Library.

How Do I Find...
A hub of tutorials, modules, FAQs, about the Library and Library services. Found on the Library homepage and here. 


See the entry for interlibrary loan.

The UVA Library's interlibrary loan system.

(a) A list of the major topics, places, and people discussed in a book or other source.  The index often appears at the end of a book and usually directs readers to relevant page numbers.
(b) A tool containing a list of citations to articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers on a particular subject, in a specific discipline, or published in a given time period.  Indexes differ from each other in scope, content (some contain full-text; some don't), and years of coverage.  Indexes may include information about publications that aren't available at UVA.  The library has a wide variety of print and online indexes.

Information Desk
Also called the Circulation Desk, this is the site for getting reference help and for checking out and returning library materials.  These desks are located on the main floor of UVA library.  Here you can check out or return books, reserves, basic equipment, and other library materials, get assistance finding and using library resources, and retrieve items from the lost and found.

Information Literacy
The competencies and skills that students need to locate, retrieve, evaluate, analyze, and use information.  These competencies are developed over time and are essential for lifelong learning.

Interlibrary Loan
A library service that allows users to borrow or obtain copies of materials from other libraries.  If the UVA Library does not have the book or article you need, simply request the item using ILLiad, our interlibrary loan system.  We'll get the material for you - at no charge to you - and will let you know when it is available.  Just be sure to allow 3-5 days for the material to arrive.  For a tutorial on how to request items through Interlibrary Loan, click here.  

In-text Citation
In-text citations help the reader find the source in the reference list or bibliography.  See the entry for parenthetical citation.

International Standard Book Number, a unique ten or thirteen-digit number assigned to each book published.

International Standard Serial Number, a unique, eight-digit number assigned to each magazine, journal, newspaper, and serial publication.  The standard format for the ISSN is two sets of four digits, separated by a hyphen (e.g. 1234-5678).

Ivy Stacks
A high-density shelving and retrieval facility located one mile west of Central Grounds. It currently holds over two million books and other materials from the University of Virginia’s libraries, all of which are available for checkout through Virgo.


A type of periodical that covers research in a specific field of study; usually published several times a year.


(a) A word describing a topic or subject.  Unlike a subject heading, a keyword is not a form of controlled vocabulary.
(b) A word that may form part of a title, author's name, subject heading, or other part of a citation; a keyword search in a database searches across all fields of a record.


Lawfully Made
A term used to describe materials that are created in accordance with copyright law.  Items used with educational exemptions must be "lawfully made;" for instance, it is not legal to show a pirated copy of a film to a class. 

LC Classification
See the entry for Library of Congress Classification.

See Research Guide.

LibKey Nomad
A free browser extension from Third Iron that helps researchers go from wherever they find an article to accessing through a Library's collection.


Library of Congress Classification
A classification for library items that is used in the Library of Congress and many other libraries including UVA Library.  Library of Congress call numbers typically have one or two letters followed by whole numbers and decimal numbers.  For more information, see the Library of Congress' Classification System guide.

An option in many databases that allows users to restrict search results by criteria not related to the subject.  Common limiters include language, date, and format.  Since limit options vary by database, check the "Help" screen for the resource you're using or ask a librarian.


Main Library
The main library closed for renovation in March 2020. The 2019-20 academic year was a transitional period where preparations were made to minimize the duration of the closure.
The main library is expected to reopen in 2024.


A micrographic reproduction stored on a paper card; the card varies in size.  A microcard is a type of microform.

A micrographic reproduction stored on a film card; the card is approximately the size of an index card.  A microfiche is a type of microform.

A micrographic reproduction stored on a reel of film; microfilm is a type of microform.  This microform is very common for newspapers and journals.

A reproduction of a book, journal, or other type of information source that is significantly scaled down, often to only 4% of the original size.  You must use a special piece of equipment, called a microform reader, to view the text.  There are several types of microforms, including microfilm and microfiche.

Microform Reader

These machines allow you to view microforms such as microfilm and microfiche.  Two types are available - analogue reader/printers which allow you to view and print pages from your microform.  Reader/scanners allow you to save digital copies of microform pages in formats such as .pdf or .jpg.  The microform readers are located in Clemons Library.  Please ask at the Circulation Desk for assistance in using them.

MLA Style
See entry for Modern Language Association Style

Modern Language Association Style
Used by students and scholars in the humanities.

(a) A treatise on one subject or about one person.
(b) A type of publication distinct from serials (i.e. a book).

Music Library
Located in Old Cabell Hall, this Library supports research in the following disciplines: musicology, theory and analysis, composition, performance, jazz, musical theater, ethnic and world music, popular music and folk music. The Music Library has one of the most significant  music collections in the southeastern United States and includes more than 135,000 books, scores and sound recordings as well as extensive online collections (including access to more than 500,000 tracks of music). It is the only library located on the Lawn.  Specialized audio equipment is available for checkout on a first-come, first-served basis.


Materials that can not be checked out. These include reference materials, items on reserve, and more. All items in Small Special Collection are non-circulating and can not leave the Library.

Open Access
A set of principles and practices through which research outputs (e.g., articles, data, software) are provided online free of access charges or other barriers, often with a license that permits broad reuse by the public.


OCLC Number
A unique number for each item in WorldCat; it can be used to locate specific items in an "accession number" search.

Open Access 
Literature or other scholarly objects that are freely available online with little or no copyright restrictions.

A library location for items that do not fit on regular library shelves.  This size is especially common in the Fine Arts Library.  An item's Virgo record will indicate if it is located in the oversize section of a library.  Please ask at the library's circulation desk for assistance locating the oversize sections in each building.


Parenthetical Citation
A type of in-text citation that utilizes parentheses. This type of citation is used in AAA, ACS, APA, Chicago: Author-Date, CSE-CBE, and MLA styles. See the entry for in-text citation

PDF Full Text

Peer Review
The process by which some scholarly articles and books are published. The editors of peer-reviewed publications require authors to submit drafts of their work for consideration.  These drafts are then reviewed by experts in the field who evaluate them. In considering articles for publication, reviewers assess the quality of authors' research as well as their contribution to scholarship. For additonal help, try this guide on peer review

A type of publication that is issued at regular intervals (e.g. monthly, weekly, daily).  Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.  See also the entry for serials.

Provides consistent access to a website, even if the site's address changes with hardware or file re-configurations.  Also called a durable URL, persistent link, PURL or stable URL.  

Persistent Link
Provides consistent access to a website, even if the site's address changes with hardware or file re-configurations. Also called a durable URL, permalink, PURL or stable URL.  

Phrase Searching
A type of search syntax that allows you to search for phrases in a database. In many databases, you need to put phrases in double quotation marks ("cold war"). The syntax may differ in some databases; always check the "Help" screens or ask a librarian.

Primary Source
An original document that provides information about an event or a topic. Types of primary sources vary by discipline. Many librarian-developed subject guides will include more information about how to find primary sources in that discipline. 

A system that allows students to print on campus. There are UVA printers in all of the libraries. Find out the various ways to print on Grounds.

Privacy Policy
(a) A statement of how a person's personal information can or will be used by the institution or party.
(b) The University of Virginia Library supports the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics statement on privacy which protects “each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.” Visit the Library's Privacy Policy webpage for related readings.

One of many vendors of library databases and ebooks. Each database in our A-Z database list indexes different journals and/or includes different collections. Many databases may be labelled as coming from ProQuest, but use the individual database titles and descriptions to help you identify what kind of articles/content are included in that resource. 

Persistent Uniform Resource Locator.  Provides consistent access to a website, even if the site's address changes with hardware or file re-configurations.  Also called a durable URL, permalink, persistent link, or stable URL.  


A service to request that a library item be returned before the original due date.  To request a recall, use the "request item" button in a title's Virgo record.  For assistance you can ask a librarian or go to the Information Desk

The collection of information about an item listed in a database.  For example, a record for a journal article will contain citation information (author, title, journal title, publication information, volume number, date, page numbers) as well as subject headings, an abstract, and other information.  A record in UVA Library WorldCat contains citation information as well as subject headings, a call number, and information about the item's status.

See the entry for peer review.

Reading Room
A secure space area designed for patrons to work with the non-circulating holdings of a special collections library or archives.

Ready Reference
A collection of quick reference materials, such as dictionaries, citation guides, etc. located on the 4th floor of Clemons.

(a) A library service; reference librarians assist students and faculty with research and information needs.
(b) An area of the library where the books in there reference collection are kept.
(c) A note or citation to a book, article, or other information source.

The title for the bibliography in APA style.  See also the entry for bibliography.

An extension of the loan period for a library book, video, government document, or reserve material. Items checked out from UVA Library may be renewed, unless someone has placed a hold on the item. To renew these items, come to the Information Desk or use log in to Virgo and renew online.  (Need help? Have more questions? Check out circulation policy here.)  Interlibrary loan items are renewable only if allowed by the lending library; use ILLiad to request a renewal.

Research Data Services
UVA Library's Research Data Services team will help you with all aspects of your research data: finding data to re-use, data wrangling, data visualization, statistical consults, research software support, data management planning, and data sharing. We will meet with you one-on-one to discuss your project. Our StatLab also holds drop-in office hours for statistical and data wrangling questions.

Research Guides
Also called LibGuides or Subject Guides. Lists of support materials and resources curated by the subject librarians. Can be currated by discipline, subject, course, and more. Library databases are located in the research guides. You can review the full list of UVA Library subject guides here

Research Help
A service offered by librarians to current UVA students, faculty, and staff.  Meet with a librarian to discuss research strategies and possible information sources for projects, assignments, papers, presentations, and the like.  For information about how to get research help, see the Ask a Librarian guide.

See the entry for course reserves.

Robertson Media Center (RMC)
Located in Clemons Library on the 3rd floor. The RMC offers a range of digital media services, including equipment and applications for the digitization, post-production, and delivery of media-related projects. Equipment available for checkout includes video and audio recorders, light kits, microphones, and more. Make equipment reservations and browse first-come, first-serve equipment in our online reservation system. Consultants at the RMC desk are available to assist with media and equipment questions, and can provide referrals to librarians and media professionals available for training, consultations, and project planning. Learn more about the RMC. 


Also called academic or refereed. This is a source that is written by an expert in their field and written to provide updates on new research, theories, insights, and news.

Scholar's Lab
The Scholars' Lab caters to the digital research and scholarly analysis needs of faculty and advanced students in the humanities and social sciences. Staffed with friendly, expert consultants from the UVA Library's Digital Research and Scholarship unit, the Scholars' Lab is the perfect place to take your work to the next level.

Search or Search Strategy
The plan enacted to answer a research question. (how is this helpful? tsh)

Secondary Source
Presents or discusses information originally presented in another source. 

Publications issued at intervals. These typically have parts or are published with a volume and issue number. Typically, they have the same title over time.  Periodicals like newspapers and journals are types of serials but a serial can also be a story that's published in parts.

(a) Related works that are published together in succession that may have been given a series title.
(b) A group of materials in an archive.

Small Special Collections
Named after UVA alum Albert Small and his wife Shirley, this is the main library at UVA that preserves and provides access to university archives and other special collections materials. Special Collections holds more than 16 million objects including manuscripts, archival records, rare books, maps, broadsides, photographs, audio and video recordings and more. Collections are particularly strong in American and British literature, the history of Virginia and the southeastern United States, the history and archives of the University of Virginia, sporting books and manuscripts, World War I, bibliography and book arts (including fine press books, pop-up books, and typography). 

Special Collections
A secure space area designed for patrons to work with the non-circulating holdings of a special collections library or archives.

Stable URL
Provides consistent access to a website, even if the site's URL changes with hardware or file re-configurations.  Also called a permalink or PURL.  

The area in the library containing most of the bookshelves.  Generally, "the stacks" are the bookshelves containing the books that can be checked out.  The "reference stacks" are the bookshelves that hold the materials in the reference collection.

The StatLab provides free statistics consulting and training to students, faculty and staff of the University of Virginia. The Statlab can help with statistical planning and sample size estimates, cleaning and wrangling data, selecting an appropriate statistical method, implementing and interpreting a statistical analysis, data visualization, one-on-one training on statistical software, debugging or resolving issues with statistical software. Learn more or make an appointment at the StatLab website.

A service that allows people to watch movies or listen to music online without downloading.  The library offers a number of streaming audio and video databases, which are outlined here.

Style Guide
A set of rules and guidelines that standardize the look of a document. APA, MLA, and Chicago are not only citation styles but include style guides for a document as well.

Subject Guides 
See Research Guides.

Subject Heading
A word, phrase, or group of words that describes the subject content of a book or other item.  In most databases, subject headings, which can be called "descriptors," are a form of controlled vocabulary.  A given item may have more than one subject heading. 

Subject Librarian
A librarian that specializes in the needs of and support the work a specific discipline and department. Often also referred to as subject liaisons, or liaison librarians. Find your subject librarians and their contact information here.


Tertiary Source
A work based entirely on secondary sources, rather than on primary sources.  It does not contain original research, but instead summarizes research reported in secondary sources.  Examples include entries in reference books like an encyclopedia and chapters in textbooks.

Text a Librarian
A service offered to answer simple reference questions when patrons are away from the library and a computer. Learn more about Ask a Librarian

Tinker Tank
The Scholars’ Lab TinkerTank (formerly Makerspace) is a place for tinkering and experimentation with technologies like wearable circuitry and virtual reality. Open to everyone, we specialize in applications and research questions in the humanities and arts. The TinkerTank staff provides consultation and instruction whenever the TinkerTank is open, or by appointment. Please drop in, or send inquiries to

(a) A list of the subject headings or descriptors used in a database, with information about their use and their relationships to each other.
(b) A lexicon or classification of synonyms and related terms (e.g. Roget's Thesaurus).

A treatise written by a masters or undergraduate student.  Distinct from a dissertation. These can be searched via Virgo.

Thesis Statement
The main point in an essay.

Total Advising
See Georges Student Center

A symbol that stands for one or more letters at the end of a word.  In an online index or database, you can use truncation to search for the root of a word and all variant endings.  For example, in Academic Search Complete, you could search for human* to retrieve records with the words "humans," "humanity," "humanities," and so forth.  Truncation symbols vary by database; always check the "Help" screens or ask a librarian.

Short, web based guides that explain and demonstrate research tasks.  View the Library's tutorials on the Learning Hub.


UVA Library
Refers to all library buildings and locations at the University of Virginia.


The UVA Library catalog. This stands for Virginia Online. With Virgo, you can search the Library's print collection and a selection of materials available online.


A symbol that replaces one character and represents more than one letter or no letters. Wildcard symbols vary by database; always check the "Help" screen or ask a librarian.

Works Cited
A type of reference list that only includes the list of works that were used in the body of the paper. MLA style uses a Works Cited.

Writing Center
Supported  by the Writing and Rhetoric Program, the Writing Center offers writing consultations to all UVA students. Learn more at the Writing Center website.


A free bibliographic management tool that helps save citation infomration and PDFs, offers an annotation tool, and can create citations in over 10,000 formats. Learn more about Zotero and how to use it in your research at this guide.



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For additional definitions of library terms, ask a librarian or consult the following: