Monday, 23 September 2013

The secret world of library jargon

Like any profession, librarians and library techs love to use professional jargon. Sometimes we let this jargon slip out when we talk to our library users about our resources. Here we have compiled a list of some of the common library jargon that we sometimes use and explain what it means in normal speak.

Facets or faceted search: No, these are not kitchen water taps but a fandangle way of saying the ‘characteristics’ of an item. We use these characteristics to put items into categories. We might describe the facets of different breeds of dogs such as size (small, medium, large) or coat colour (golden, brown, brindle) just as in the library catalogue we describe the different facets of library items such as location (on line, Dentistry Library, Downsview) or subject (oral radiology, anaesthesia, occlusion). When searching the library catalogue we can use these facets to narrow or filter our search to find items that meet our needs.

Controlled vocabulary (or sometimes called an ontology) : Did your mother ever tell you to watch your Ps and Qs or she would wash your mouth out with soap? That is one type of controlled vocabulary, but different from the one we are talking about in the library.  In libraries, controlled vocabulary is a standardised terminology used to index things such as journal articles in databases. Using controlled vocabulary in databases (where it is available) helps you to increase the accuracy in which you can find articles.  A common controlled vocabulary used in health sciences databases is MeSH or Medical Subject Headings. MeSH is used to index articles in MEDLINE which can be searched using PubMed or Ovid.

Library of Congress call number: The Library of Congress Classification system, sometimes “LC” for short, is a way of describing the subject of a book using an alpha-numeric code. You can use the alpha-numeric code to help you locate which shelf in the library an item is stored.  The start of the call number describes the subject of the book.  The reason that the majority of our books at the Dentistry Library start with RK is because this is the code for ‘dentistry’. Visit the on line library learning center for a description on the anatomy of the Library of Congress call number and how to read a call number and find an item on a shelf.

Dewey Decimal Classification System: Okay so everyone has heard of this famous librarian named Melvil Dewey, but what is the Dewey Decimal thing exactly? Like the Library of Congress Classification System, the Dewey Decimal Classification System is used by libraries to code library items by subject type and make them discoverable by library staff and patrons (i.e. it tells you where the item is on the shelf).  Here at the Dentistry Library, we do not use this system but instead classify our items using the Library of Congress Classification System. 

Boolean operators: Boolean what? Simply put, Boolean is a language that is used for communications between people and computers. Boolean operators are words (AND, OR and NOT) that people can use to tell computers how to find the books or articles they need.  Using Boolean operators can help increase the accuracy or recall of a search. These can be used when you search article databases to find articles on a topic of study. OR can be used to increase your search recall (i.e. you get more articles).  Doing a search for “cats OR dogs” should give you a list of items that use the word cat or dog.  You can use AND to increase the accuracy of your search (i.e. you get fewer articles but they are more closely related to your topic).  Doing a search for “cats AND dogs” should give you a list items that contain both the word cat and dog.  You can also use NOT to increase the accuracy of your search.  Searching “cat NOT dog” will a list of items with the word cat but will remove from that list any items that also mention the word dog.

Interlibrary loan: Interlibrary loan, also often referred by the acronym ILL has nothing to do with being sick or taking ill. It is just a fancy way of saying that you are borrowing a book from a non-University of Toronto Library. You can also get journal articles by interlibrary loan.  As a further point to confuse you, the system used to coordinate interlibrary loans is called RACER.  So if a librarian is telling you to request a book from RACER they are simply telling you to go to this web page to make a request to borrow an item from another library (ILL!). The ILL form on RACER can be confusing, so if you are not sure what you are doing don't make yourself ILL trying to figure it out on your own, just come to Service Desk and the Dentistry Library and we will be happy to help you out!

eJournals, eBooks, eResources: eEeeeeek! The small “e” at the front of these words means that these resources can be accessed electronically, or on line.  Faculty, students and staff of Faculty of Dentistry can view University of Toronto electronic resources on campus or from home.  From home you will be prompted to sign in with your UTORid and password (the same user name and password you use for the U of T mail) to verify that you are affiliated with UofT and allowed to access these resources.  To help you find dentistry eBooks we have set up a web page here with links to dentistry eBooks in the U of T catalogue listed by subject.

Serials and Periodicals: Serials (not cereals – remember, no eating in the library!) and periodicals are words that are used interchangeably but there are subtle nuances between the two. Periodicals are a collection of articles (by one or more authors) that are published at regular intervals under a specific title (e.g. British Journal of Oral Surgery, Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene, Dental Update).  Periodicals can be journals or magazines. The articles found within periodicals also known as journal articles, scientific articles or sometimes even scientific papers. A list of journals the Dentistry Library subscribes to can be found here.  Periodicals are stored in two locations within the Dentistry Library, the Current Periodicals (the most recent issues) are found in the Reading Room; whereas, the Bound Periodicals (issues from previous years) are located near the Service Desk. The Dentistry Library does not have very many serials so this term might not be so important for you to learn. For those of you who are interested though, series are a group of books with different titles but all related in that they are part of the same series (e.g. Harry Potter, the Color Atlas of Dental Medicine, The Lord of the Rings).  Serials are not necessarily published with regular intervals.
We hope this list has helped to demystify some often used library jargon! If you have any questions about other library words, or just questions in general, please visit us at the Service Desk!

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