Glossary of library terms


A short summary of an article or a book.

APA style

APA is the abbreviation for the American Psychological Association. This organization has created certain standards of writing research papers for authors in the area of social sciences. These set of standards is called APA style. The standards are very specific about documenting the sources in the reference list. Many courses taught at John Jay College require from the students to document the sources they used for writing their research paper according to the APA style. The library has created a guide to APA style. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition) in book format can be found in Reserve under the call number BF 76.7 .P83 2001. See Citation, Reference, Reserve


A barcode with a unique combination of numbers, beginning with the digits 21699, that is assigned by the library to each user. The library barcode sticker belongs on the back of your John Jay ID card. The library barcode is not included on your John Jay ID by default (due to the ID card system constraints), but the barcode sticker can be obtained at the Circulation Desk. (Note: library books have barcodes too, attached to the last page of the book.)

Your library barcode allows you to check out print books. More about the barcode »


A list of sources (printed, electronic, visual, audio), i.e. references, that somebody has used for research. It is located at the end of an article or a book. May also be called a Reference List.


To be able to check out library materials. See Check out, Reserve.

Call number

An identifying number that every library material has. It consists of a combination of letters, numbers and other symbols that reflect the subject field of the material and its location in the library. Most academic libraries in the United States use the call number classification system developed by the Library of Congress. In order to locate a book or a journal in the library you would need a call number that can be found in the library catalog (OneSearch or Classic CUNY+). More on the Library of Congress classification system »

Check out

To take library materials home. In order to check out a book, you should locate it first in the library online catalog CUNY+, write down the call number, find the book on the shelf in the Stacks and bring it to the Circulation desk. Make sure you remember when to return or renew the book. See Reserve.

Circulation Desk

The area on the first floor of the library (just behind the security guard) where you get your library barcode, check out books, return books and pay fines if you don't return the books on time.


All of the data which adequately identifies a particular source of information such as a book, a journal article, or a website. Citations may also be called references. Citations are required so that other researchers or professors can find the sources of information students have used to prepare their papers and to check on their truthfulness to the original sources. In case of a book, citation includes author, title, date of publication, and the name of the publisher. In case of an article, citation will also include title of the periodical, volume, and pages on which the article appeared. See APA style.


CUNY Libraries Inter-Campus Services. Using this service, you can request materials from another CUNY library and have them delivered to the library of your choice. More information about CLICS »

Classic CUNY+

The name of the older interface for the online library catalog. The new interface is OneSearch.

Due date

The date by which the library materials must be brought back to the library.


(Also eBook.) Electronic book. The catalog includes tens of thousands of ebooks that can be read online. Portions or the entirety of the ebook may be printed or downloaded. More about ebooks »

eReserve (Electronic Reserve)

 Documents available online for the students taking certain classes; these documents can be accessed at the eReserves page. Your professor should provide you with a password for accessing these materials online. See also Reserve.


If a library material is overdue (i.e., you didn't return it on time), you will be asked to pay some money. In case of a lost book, you will be asked to pay the full price of the book. See Overdue. Circulation policies »

Full-text electronic journals

The library gets many of its journals in electronic format. "Full-text" means the entirety of an article is available for you to read, rather than just an abstract or citation. Many of the database to which the Library has access allow you to limit your search to full-text articles. 

Library databases

 The majority of the databases provide access to the full-text electronic versions of journals. You can also use databases to read books online, get statistical data, or access governmental publications. Databases by subject »

Library stop

If you have overdue library materials or unpaid fines, your Registrar's record will be blocked due to a library stop. You have to talk to the staff at the Circulation desk to clear up the situation.

Microform / Microfilm / Microfiche

A storage format for keeping back issues of documents. Microfilm is a 16mm or 35 mm film with reduced images of pages on it; microfiche is film cut into cards. Both microform formats require special devices in order to be viewed. Images of pages can be printed out. Microfilm and microfiche are arranged in our library according to their call numbers in cabinets near the Reference desk. We have multiple microform viewers on the second floor of the Library, including one that will create digital scans of the images, available for you to download.


OneSearch is a "mega-database" that lets you search for articles, books, ebooks, videos, and more, all on one convenient platform. Search many databases at once using OneSearch. More about OneSearch »


A book that is checked out and kept after due date. Books can be renewed online twice using the "Sign in" link in the library catalog, but after that they must be returned. See Fine


A publication that comes out periodically, such as a monthly magazine or quarterly academic journal. In the Lloyd Sealy Library, magazines are shelved upstairs near the Reference Desk, and bound periodicals (e.g., years of academic journals bound together in one "book") are shelved upstairs in the southern wing.

Peer-reviewed article

A research article that has been reviewed by the author's peers, also experts in their field of study, before publication in a scholarly journal (a periodical containing academic research articles). You might see peer-reviewed articles referred to as academic articles and scholarly articles. More about peer-reviewed articles »


The taking of someone else's ideas or their expression of ideas without giving them credit. See APA Style, Citation, Reference

Reference books

Library books that cannot be checked out. The reference collection consists of materials that are frequently used for general information (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, indexes, etc.). Reference books in the John Jay College library have blue tape on their spines.

Reference Desk

The desk on the upper floor of the library where you come for assistance with your research. You will always find reference librarians on duty there.

References or Reference List

A list of citations or references at the end of a book, article or website giving the sources used in its preparation. Giving adequate credit to sources, and in the proper format, is a requirement for academic writing. See Bibliography, Citation

Reference Law

Legal reference books that cannot be checked out. These books have red tape on their spines. The Reference Law area is on the upper floor of the library, near the periodicals section.


Room on the lower floor of the library where students can get access to the readings or audio/video materials put aside by instructors for specific classes. Most of the reserve materials can be borrowed for a limited amount of time for in-library use only. See also Electronic Reserve. More about Reserves »

Special Collections

Collection of unique books, John Jay College papers, reports, etc. These books have brown tape on their spines and cannot be checked out. Special Collections »

Special Collections Room

Library collections that can be used by appointment only. These include college archives, old and rare books, etc.


Collection of library books that can be taken home, i.e., checked out. Stacks are located on both floors of the library. The stacks are divided into two parts: call numbers A-H (upper floor) and call numbers J-Z (lower floor). Library floor plan »