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Creating Lesson Plans: Library and Research Terms

Library & Research Terms

Research Services | Accessing Materials  | Locating Materials

| Kinds of Materials | Searching | Writing & Research


Research Services


Reference Desk is where you can find a reference librarian and ask for help in finding information or using the library's resources. The desk is located on the first floor in the center near the reference collections.

Reference Help is provided by librarians via phone (828) 262-2820, chat via the library website, or in person at the reference desk. 

RAP Session is an in-depth individual research consulation with a librarian. RAPs are requested online via the RAP Request Form. More information about RAP Sessions.

University Writing Center offers free services to students. Staff work with writers on a wide variety of projects: papers for academic courses; masters and senior thesis chapters; personal essays for job, graduate school, and law school applications; creative writing projects; grant or project proposals. They work with writers at any stage of the writing process, from choosing topics to editing at the sentence level. More information about the University Writing Center.


Accessing Materials


Circulation Desk  A service desk where books and other materials are loaned or charged out to library users. There are circulation desks on the 1st floor, lower level, and in on the 4th floor in Special Collections. Library materials which do not circulate (reference books and some periodicals, for example) can be used within the library.

Check-out means to borrow materials from a library for a fixed period of time. The maximum check out period  depends also on the status of the borrowe. More information about loan periods and fines.

Overdue All borrowed materials have a due date. If you do not return materials within the specified amount of time you will incur fees. For an extension of the loan period, renew the borrowed item. More information on loan periods and fee structure

Renewal is an extension of the loan period for charged library materials. Renewals may be handled in person at the circulation desk, by phone, or by clicking on the account icon on the library website or the My Account link the library catalog. Renew materials online by logging into your account using your name and banner ID.

Pull and Hold Service A library user may place a hold on a book charged out to another person; this ensures that the person placing the hold will be next in line to receive the book when the book is returned. You can place hold by requesting the book in the library catalog. More information about Pull and Hold.

ABC Express is a delivery service operated by WNCLN (the Western North Carolina Library Network - the libraries of Appalachian State University, UNC-Asheville, and Western Carolina University). If you need a book, journal or other library material that is not held at the ASU library, and one of the other two libraries owns the item, ABC Express can usually have it for you within three days. More Information about ABC Express.

Interlibrary Loan Services (ILLiad) provides access to materials that cannot be found in the WLCLN network. To borrow such materials, set-up an account and logon to ILLiad. More information about ILLiad.


Locating Materials


Call Numbers Each item in a library collection is classified in a subject area by assigning it a call number. These call numbers are placed on the spine of the book or bound journal. These books or bound journals are shelved by these call numbers in the stacks. The call numbers are entered in the records in the Library Catalog. At Appalachian State University we use Library of Congress call numbers, a combination of letters and numbers (for example., PS 3545.I5365 A6 2000)

Library of Congress Classification (LC Classification) is a classification system used by the library and created by the Library of Congress, which uses numbers and/or letters, to represent the subject content of materials. You can find an outline of the classification scheme on each floor near the elevators. More information about the Library of Congress Classification.

Stacks are the part of the library which houses the physical collection. Books and periodicals are arranged on shelves in the stacks.

Library Catalog a specialized index that contains records describing the material available or accessible at the library and in WNCLN (Western North Carolina Library Network). The library catalog is accessible via the Internet at

Record is an individual component of a database containing information such as citation(s), statistics, text, etc.

Database is an electronic catalog or index that often contains information about published items and is searchable. Types of materials found in library databases include: articles from journals and magazines, electronic books, newspapers, images, and reference sources. List of library databases accessible off campus with your name and banner ID. 


Kinds of Materials


Media are films, tapes, disks and other audio-visual materials that require the use of special listening or viewing equipment.

Periodicals are serials published indefinitely at regular or stated intervals, generally more frequently than once a year. Each issue is numbered and/or dated consecutively and contains articles, stories, or other writings. Journals, magazines and newspapers are periodicals.

  • Journal is a type of periodical which contains signed scholarly articles. Journal are usually published by academic or association presses and include bibliographies.
  • Magazine is a type of periodical containing popular articles which are usually shorter or less authoritative than journal articles on the same subject. 
  • Newspaper is a periodical issued at frequent intervals (usually daily, semi-weekly, or weekly) containing news, opinions, advertisements and other information of current and often local interest.

Microforms are formats for storing photographically reduced images onto plastic film. Microfiche and microfilm are two types of microforms. A microform reader/printer is required to read or copy microforms. Telephone books, newspapers, magazines and government documents are available in microform in the library.

  • Microfilm is photographically reduced images of printed pages on 35mm film. This format also provides backup for periodicals with missing pages. Older issues of newspapers are often microfilmed because newsprint deteriorates so rapidly. Most of the library's microfilm collection is located on the lower level in metal cabinets.
  • Microfiche is a flat sheet of film containing photographic reproductions in miniature of a periodical or other publication, usually arranged in an array.

E-Books are elecronic versions of traditional print books that can be viewed using a personal computer, an e-book reader such as a Kindle, or a tablet. 

Audiobooks are recordings of readings of books. The library's collection contains downloadable audiobooks and some are avaible on CD on the 2nd floor. 

Encyclopedias provide general information source that provides articles on various branches of knowledge. Encyclopedias may be general or subject specific. many of the print encyclopedias are located in the reference collection on the first floor, but many are also available electronically via the library's website. Select list of electronic encyclopedias.

Bibliography is a compilation of citations of works by a given author or works on a particular subject.

Primary Source Materials were either created during the time period being studied or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs). They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an event or time period. Some examples are diaries, letters, speeches, research data and statistics, or images. Library tutorial Primary and secondary source materials.

Secondary Source Materials are works that interpret or analyze an event or phenomenon. They are generally at least one step removed from the event and are often based on primary sources. Examples include scholarly or popular books and articles or specialized encyclopedias or dictionaries. Library tutorial Primary and secondary source materials.

Scholarly Materials provide in-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication. Library tutorial popular and scholarly materials.

Popular Materials provides secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform. Library tutorial popular and scholarly materials.




Keyword is a word or term, chosen by the user, that best summarizes the information being sought. A user can search the library catalog or other database for either a single keyword or a combination of keywords in order to retrieve records containing the keyword(s).

Keyword Search is one of the search options available in the library catalog. When searching by Keyword, the user may combine words or terms using Boolean operators.

Boolean Operators are terms (and, or, not) used in searching online resources (such as the library catalog or article databases) that determine the relationship between two or more search terms (i.e. how to combine the words).

Subject Headings When a book or other item is added to a library's collection, a specialist known as a cataloger examines it and decides what that book is about. The cataloger must describe the subject content of that book as completely as possible by using standardized, officially approved words or groups of words known as subject headings. These subject headings are drawn from the Library of Congress Subject Headings list. 

Subject Searching is one of the search options in the library catalog. When searching by Subject Heading the user must use terms as they are found in the Library of Congress Subject Headings list. Subject Searches use "left-hand" truncation, so you only need to enter the beginning of a subject heading to browse a list of headings beginning with that term.

TruncationA search technique in which you use symbol to search for variations of a word:

Symbol Example Retrieves

Use a ? or * at the left, right, or middle of a word. Never use
more than once in a particular search string.





politics, political, politician etc. 

geology, psychology, minerology, etc.

Use # to find words with alternative spellings. a#oplane airplane, aeroplane


Writing and Research


Citations provide information about a book or article that is used to identify or locate that book or article. A citation usually includes the author, article title, book or journal title, date, volume number, and/or publication information. More information about citations and citation styles.

Bibliography is a compilation of citations of works by a given author or works on a particular subject.

Annotated Bibliography is a list of books, articles, or other documents on a topic or by a particular author containing a citation of each item, as well as a brief description and/or a critical evaluation of it.

Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else's work, including the work of other students, as one's own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge. What is considered "common knowledge" may differ from course to course.

IMC Librarian

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Margaret Gregor