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International Students Library Handbook

Welcome to the Library–here are useful tips, information, answers to help you get started with your research!

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Words being used in Library/KSL

Multilingual Glossary for Today’s Library Users:

 This Multilingual Glossary is designed to assist ESL (English as a second-language) speakers, as well as the librarians who work with them. It consists of commonly used terms in academic libraries today.

The Glossary is divided into two parts: (1) the Language Table, which presents a list of these terms in seven languages, and (2) the Definitions, which give explanations in English for each of the terms.

Credit: The Instruction Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).


summary of a larger work, such as an article, book, or dissertation, included with citation information in many databases.

Boolean Searching

method of searching in electronic databases by combing words or concepts together. There are three Boolean operators - AND, OR, and NOT - that are used to broaden or narrow keyword searches.

Call Number

a unique alphanumeric code assigned to each item in the library. Most university libraries use Library of Congress's call numbers.


an instructional program within Kelvin Smith Library designed to instruct Case community members on how to use the library and its resources.
Catalog an inventory of all items found within the library, either physically or electronically. The online catalog is organized and indexed so that you can search by a variety of fields/indexes, such as keywords, author name or subject.


the library department responsible for checking out and reshelving books, maintaining information on books that have been checked out, and tracing lost materials.


information about a publication (book, journal article, video, etc.) that allows someone to identify and locate that publication. Citations for books usually contain the author's name, the book's title, place of publication and date of publication. Citations for journal articles usually include the author and title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume number, page numbers and date of publication.

Controlled Vocabulary

a set of official descriptors assigned to a particular entry in a database, illustrating the relationship between synonyms and preferred usage terms. Using controlled vocabulary to search will provide you with more focused results. Examples of controlled vocabulary include Library of Congress Subject Headings, MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms, and ERIC descriptors.
Database a collection of related electronic records in a standardized format, searchable in a variety of ways, such as title, author, subject, and keyword. Common examples of databases are the library catalog and citation indexes.
Digital Case Case Western Reserve University's digital library, which archives, preserves and disseminates the intellectual output of research at Case in electronic formats, as well as collections of historical library materials that have been digitized.
Dissertation a lengthy, written study of a specialized subject, specifically submitted for a doctorate degree.
E-Journals online, full-text journals to which the library subscribes.
Freedman Center harnesses the power of modern technology and combines it with the driver of academic creativity. The center consists primarily of four service areas, but also offers special programs: Digital Scholarship, Multimedia & Digitization,Printing Services, and Collaboration Commons.
Government Document any publication produced by a federal, state, or local government agency. Federal documents may be arranged and classified by their SuDoc number, or by the identification number assigned by the publishing agency. Most government documents are located on the second floor of Kelvin Smith Library.
Index a list of citations to journal articles and/or books arranged by subject, author, or title. Indexes may be in print format, electronic format, or both.
Journal a periodical presenting articles on a particular subject.
Keyword any word in an item's record. In an electronic index or database, keywords can be combined together using the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.
Keyword Searching a way to search an index or database by searching for particular words in titles, names, subject headings, abstracts and any other information available in publication records. This kind of searching allow you to combine keywords by using the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT. Keyword searching is more flexible than subject searching because it allows the searcher to select his or her own words or phrases for the search.
Manuscript unpublished written documents, such as diaries or letters, or an author's original copy of a work.
Media materials such as VHS, DVDs, films, audiotapes and CDs, that require special equipment in order to use.
MeSH an acronym for "medical subject headings." This controlled vocabulary system is determined by the National Library of Medicine, and is used for indexing articles, cataloging materials, and searching MeSH-indexed databases.
Microforms documents that are reduced in size and available in either microfiche or microfilm. There is a microform collection on the first floor of Kelvin Smith Library.
Monograph a scholarly writing, usually of essay or book length on a narrow subject.
Nesting in boolean searching, a set of search terms arranged sequentially within a larger set; the order in which terms are set may determine the nature of the retrieved results. An example of nesting is: (humans and (genetic engineering or cloning)).
Online Catalog an online database containing records of the materials owned by the libraries. Most, but not all materials are included in KSL's online catalog.
Peer Review the process by which articles are chosen to be included in a refereed journal. An editorial board consisting of experts in the same field as the author review the article and decide if it is authoritative enough for publication.
Periodical a magazine, journal, newsletter, or newspaper produced on a regular basis. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with "serial."
PDF (Portable Document Format) a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to someone else. PDFs can be read by any computer (Macintosh, Windows or UNIX) without platform conflicts.
Popular Magazines serials that target general audiences with popular or current news stories. Authors usually are not scholars in a specific discipline and do not conduct original research. These articles are not peer-reviewed.
Primary Sources records of events described or recorded by someone who either participated in or witnessed the events or who got their information from others who did. Examples include newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, notebooks, and interviews.
Proximity a term related to searching an electronic database. By designating proximity between two terms, you are commanding the system to retrieve documents which contain the terms close to each other. For example, if you search for "cancer(3n)treatment," cancer and treatment must be within 3 words of each other.
RRCC (Retrospective Research Collections Center) A remote storage place for KSL. Upon appointment, staff is onsite to help you find and use materials in the Reading Room. Materials can be requested by filling the RRCC Retrieval Requests Form.
Recall Notice Case libraries recall items when they are needed for teaching and Course Reserves, and the recall can occur at any time. You need to return quickly, to avoid fines.
Record A collection of related data, arranged in fields and treated as a unit. The complete information for each item in the Online Catalog is considered a record.
Reference the library department which aids patrons in using the library, helps with research problems, and assists in locating information.
Scholarly/Professional Journal journals that present in-depth, original research in a specific field. These articles have been reviewed by other scholars in the field for scholastic standards and validity. Professional journals may also contain profession or industry related news.
Secondary Sources sources that record the words of someone who didn't actually witness or participate in an event, but rather investigated the primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include books and journal articles.
Serials a publication that is issued in parts, indefinitely over time. Serials include journals, periodicals, magazines, almanacs, annual reports, numbered monographs, and other materials. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with "periodical."
Stacks the area of the library where books and bound periodicals are shelved. 
Subject Headings terms, names, or phrases that are assigned to a publication (book, journal article, video, etc.) and used to describe the contents of that publication. They form a standardized set of terms that are consistently used to group materials together.
Tertiary Sources sources that rely on secondary sources rather than primary sources.
Thesaurus a book of concepts and terms with their synonyms, often restricted to a specialized field or subject.
Thesis a written paper elaborating on original research, arguing a specific view. Theses are often written for the completion of an academic degree, usually a Master's degree.
Truncation a symbol included in the middle or at the end of a word to include possible variations in spelling and alternative endings when searching an electronic database. For example, if searching for information on society, you could enter the phrase "societ?" to search society, society's, societies, and societal. Common truncation symbols include *, ?, and #. It is best to consult the help guide for each database to confirm when searching.
VPN (Virtual Private Networking) is a software program that will allow a computer that is not directly connected to the campus network to access resources that are campus only resources. This allows you to access a lot of technology and library resources that you would not otherwise be able to access from off campus.

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