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Public School Academy Guide: Library Terms

Library/Research Terms

Call Number

A string of numbers and/or letters used to organize books within the library.  The call number tells you where the book is located on the shelf.  Zahnow library uses Library of Congress Call numbers, an alphanumeric system which groups books by subject.  The call numbers are located on the books' spine and can be found within the library's online catalog.


An online, searchable inventory of materials held within the library.  You can search the catalog through CardCat or "We Search" (the search box on the library's main page).  The catalog will help you discover which books, ebooks, and videos the library owns.  


The process of checking material in and out of the library.


Library databases are online tools which contain information from published works - mostly articles from journal, magazine or newspaper articles, but also some articles from encyclopedias and other reference works as well.  Library databases are searchable and often contain full-text articles.  There are different kinds of databases for different subjects.

Interlibrary Loan (Tipasa)

A service which allows students to request books and/or articles that Zahnow Library does not own from other libraries.  Items are delivered either in print or electronically at no cost to the student.  Books are picked up at the Circulation Desk.  Articles are sent electronically to your email account.

Journal (Scholarly/Academic Journal)

A periodical devoted to publishing original research and commentary on current developments in a specific discipline or field of study.  Journals are usually published in quarterly, bimonthly, or monthly issues and are sold by subscription. Journal articles are usually written by the person (or persons) who conducted the research. Longer than most magazine articles, they almost always include a bibliography or list of works cited at the end.


MeLCat is a catalog and delivery system which allows you to order books, audio books, music, movies and other materials from libraries across the state of Michigan and have them delivered to you at Zahnow library at no cost.  

Peer Reviewed

Peer Review is a process that journals use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available.  When an article is submitted to a peer reviewed journal, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field (the author's peers) to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship, its relevance to the field, its appropriateness for the journal, etc.


A type of publication issued at regular intervals of less than a year (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly).  Periodicals contain a mix of articles, editorials, reviews, columns, short stories, poems, or other short works written by more than one contributor.  Magazines, newspapers, journals and newsletters are all types of periodicals.  


When faculty assign additional reading or provide additional material for their classes, these items are placed on Reserve at the Circulation Desk under the faculty member's name and course number.  If the material is in electronic format, it can be accessed via your Canvas course.