Library Lingo-What does it mean?

Library Lingo-What does it mean?

We are currently more than half way through the semester and at some point already, you may have been in contact with library staff either for reference help or because an online resource was giving you some trouble. Whether by phone, email, or in person we librarians tend to say some pretty strange words sometimes in our effort to help you, words understood by librarians, but maybe not to the average library user.

When it comes to reference or locating a book, here are some common words you may hear and what they mean.

Boolean Search– Using the operators of AND, OR, and NOT in keyword searching. These operators help you refine your search results by including (AND), excluding (NOT), or searching for similar or interchangeable terms (OR).

Exp:       Elephants AND Leopards

Poachers NOT Hunters

Asia OR Africa


Call Number- This is a combination of letters and numbers that assigns a book’s location on the shelves, kind of like an address. Most academic libraries, IU included, uses the Library of Congress Classification to assign a book’s call number. The letters in the call number indicate a book’s subject area and the books are arranged alphabetically and then numerically. To find out more about the Library of Congress Subject Classification, go to

IUCat– The IU Libraries online catalog system. Ours can be found right on the Library homepage at Our search box defaults to searching the IU East Library holdings only, but you can opt to search the entire IU library system to see if another IU library has a book that you need.

Reserves- Books on reserves are usually textbooks or other course books that faculty members put on reserve for students. The library does not purchase textbooks, so we encourage faculty to put their copies or extra copies on reserve. Most reserve books have a loan period of 2 hours but some can be checked out up to 3 days. The short loan period ensures that all students can have a chance to view the text in a timely manner for the class and coursework. All reserves are located at the circulation desk and they all have a red band around the cover to distinguish them from other library books.

ILL and Request Delivery– ILL or Interlibrary loan books are books that are borrowed from another, non-IU library. Request Delivery books are books that are coming from another IU campus. IU East has access to a lot of ebooks, but if you find you need a physical copy of a book, looking at other IU library holdings via IUCat is a good way to find what you need and you can request the book via the “Request Delivery” button. ILL is a good option for when you search the entire IU library system and can’t find the book you need. You can then go to our interlibrary loan system, ILLiad 2.0, located on the Campus Library homepage, to request it. You can also go directly to the sign in page at

Stacks- The term means a set of shelves for books or other materials arranged closely together. The library stacks is where the main collection of our physical books is located.

When troubleshooting a technical problem, we always start by suggesting you try a different browser or clearing your cookies. Unfortunately, not all of the library subscribed resources are compatible with all browsers. Some of our databases work better in Chrome than Firefox and others in Firefox than Safari or Internet Explorer. Switching to a different browser usually works, however, sometimes the access issue is more complicated and needs to be addressed by the librarians. Here are some of the terms you might here when we explain possible access problems:

Cookies/Cache- Cookies are pieces of saved data that live in your browser. This is what allows you to access Facebook or your email on your personal devices quickly without having to login every time because the browser saved your data. If you want to know how to clear this data or your browsing history in order to resolve performance issues, you can check out the IU Knowledge Base guide on how to do all that here:

Proxy Server- All of the IU East Campus Library databases are accessible off campus via a proxy. It basically links students and faculty working from their personal laptops, tablets, and phones to the content that the IU East library subscribes to. It’s the reason that when you click on a database from the A-Z Resource List, you may be asked to login to your IU account. Each IU campus has their own unique proxy for accessing content they purchase. Sometimes urls and proxy addresses change which can interrupt access. If a proxy is not configured right, you may also get an error message. Our proxy must be configured, so attaching our proxy to the front of any link will not work.

Permalink– This is a permanent link to an article, ebook, web page, or even a blog entry. Many of our databases like Academic Search Premier and ProQuest Central provide permalinks to their articles. The permalinks provided by our databases, however, also include the proxy for IU East. Since databases often require a subscription, this unique permalink with the IU East proxy allows members of IU East to access the article or ebook directly, without needing to go through the library website or the database it came from. If a professor or student tries to share an article or ebook to other students or peers without the permalink, those they shared it with might not be able to access the content.

Serial Solutions– This is a library service that the IU libraries use to manage our e-resources, providing links and even record information about a databases’ holdings. This services allows you to access or link easily to various articles or databases via IUCat and our A-Z Resource List. Serial Solutions is nothing that a library patron would need to ever access but if there is an issue with a link not working, this is one of the places we go to first in order to try and correct any possible problems.

The terms listed here is certainly not all encompassing, but hopefully this guide has helped inform you on a few of the common library services and applications we use in providing you the research and access help you need. As always, if you need any assistance with any of the services listed above or have additional questions, please contact us at

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