Library Hours

Summer Hours 

Mon.-Thur.: 8 am - 10 pm

Fri.: 8 am - 5 pm

Sat.: 1 pm - 5 pm

Sun.: 5 pm - 10 pm


Chat box is loading. If you don't see the chat box, then JavaScript may be disabled or chat may be currently unavailable.

Library Lingo


The following terms and concepts help you refine searches, interpret results, and become research savvy!



A concise paragraph describing an article's content.


Adobe Acrobat Reader

  • A computer application required to open Portable Document Format files with a .PDF suffix after the file name. PDF files are the format for many full text articles found in the library's online databases.
  • To download this free application, go to Adobe's Acrobat download page.


Boolean Terms: And, Or, Not

  • Boolean terms are words such as AND, OR, and NOT that are designated search helpers.
  • And marries two or more terms (e.g. The search phrase "elementary AND math" will search for articles with both "elementary" and "math" present.
  • Or searches for all words entered, but not necessarily all words in each article (e.g. The search phrase "algebra OR geometry" will search for articles that have either "algebra" or "geometry".
  • Not excludes terms from a search (e.g. "math NOT geometry" will search for articles with the word math, but without the word geometry.



  • The vital identification information for a book, article, website, CD, etc.
  • Typical pieces of a citation are: author; title of article/book; book publisher or journal title, volume, & pages; publication date.
  • Citations are used in bibliographies so that readers can go back to a writer's source, and citations are also used when requesting materials from another library via interlibrary loan.



Available through libraries, schools and some businesses, online databases are purchased with a subscription like a very expensive magazine. Such databases offer access to magazine and newspaper articles, research papers, biographies, business reports, poems, health information, and much more.



A word or phrase that is designated as the standardized/controlled vocabulary term for a subject. Many databases and the library catalog use controlled vocabulary in their subject searches. To find descriptors, use a print or an online thesaurus.


Descriptor/Subject Searching

A search technique that uses a standardized or controlled vocabulary (see thesaurus). This technique focuses your search on a precise topic.



A vendor with databases such as Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, and PsychINFO. Also includes access to ERIC.


ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)

"A federally-funded national information system that provides, through its 16 subject-specific clearinghouses, associated adjunct clearinghouses, and support components, a variety of services and products on a broad range of education-related issues." --About ERIC


File Extensions

  • The suffix of a file's name that indicates its format or usage. For example, the file name "letter.doc" ends with .doc indicating that this file is a Microsoft Word file. File extensions are often three characters long. A few common file extensions are:
  • .PDF - Portable Document Format file; requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to open. .DOC - Word processing document (e.g. Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc.) .HTML, .HTM - HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. Files with .HTML or .HTM file extensions open with web browsers. .PPT - Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation
  • .XLS - Microsoft Excel Worksheet
  • To look up a file extension, go to from


Full Text

The entire text of an article including footnotes, if available.


Interlibrary Loan

When libraries share resources by lending materials to one another. Follow this link for more information about theViterbo library's interlibrary loan.


Keyword Searching

A broad search method in which all fields are searched for the "keyword" entered. Keyword searching can be the best place to start in order to build a vocabulary of subject headings or descriptors. In some databases, keyword search terms are highlighted in search results.


Library Holdings

What a library (i.e. Viterbo) owns in print or through online access.


Literature Review (aka Literature Search)

An investigation of published sources on a particular topic prior to conducting research.


PDF File

See file extensions.


Peer Reviewed

"Peer-reviewed journals are publications that only include articles that have been reviewed and/or qualified by a selected panel of acknowledged experts in the field of study covered by the journal" --EBSCOhost.


Primary Source

The original report of the researcher. Look for terms such as “results,” “methods,” and for numbers of subjects, tests, etc. Note the kinds of words that are underlined in yellow in this example:

Primary Source (library lingo)


Reference Librarian

An information specialist who has been trained (usually via graduate school) to help determine what resources will help you and where to find them.


Research Strategy

The methodology implemented when conducting research. In the example below, note that revisions can occur at any time:

Research Path (library lingo)


Secondary Source

Reports or reviews on previous research that was not completed by the author.


Subject Headings

see Descriptor.


Subject Search

see Descriptor Searching.



For databases, a thesaurus is a glossary/index of descriptors and subject headings.



A means of searching for words that begin with the same stem by using a symbol (e.g. "?" or "*"). For example, a search for "writ*” finds “writer,” “writing,” “write,” etc.