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First-Generation Resource Guide

Resource guide for ASU First-Generation students to learn about resources and services available at the ASU Library

Library Guides

Need assistance with research assignments? Do you have interest in a specific subject area? Our librarians and information professionals have tailored library guides on a broad range of topics and courses. Browse our full list of library guides 

For Example: If you need assistance with citations, visit our Citation Styles library guide. If you are enrolled in ENG 101, visit our First Year Composition library guide. 


Tutorials are YouTube like videos that engage you on different topics about the library. Here are a few to get you started with the ASU Library and University Research. 

You can find more on our tutorial homepage.

Library Lingo

Librarians and library professionals may use specialized terms when referring to services, resources, locations, etc. at ASU Libraries. To get familiar with these terms, view the glossary below. For more terms visit ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science




a brief summary of an article


records kept because they have value and document evidence of past events; used to interpret and understand history.


a composition on a topic or subject, written by one or more authors usually published as part of a journal, magazine, or newspaper. 

Ask A Librarian

a reference service at ASU Library for students, faculty, staff, and community partners to ask questions to librarians and library professionals.

Ask An Archivist

a reference service at ASU Library for students, faculty, staff, and community partners to ask questions to archivists and curators regarding archival materials and collections. 


The person or organization responsible for a written work (article, book, play, poem, etc.). 



barcode number

the 13-digit located on the back of books and other materials for circulation and inventory; barcode numbers are used to charge, discharge, and renew books on the online computer system.

boolean operators

an expression used to define searches in research databases; using the words "AND" "OR" or "NOT" 



call number

a combination of numbers and letters that provide a unique description of each item in a library collection. Items are arranged on the book shelves by call number. For Example, HV9950 .A437 2012. Search this call number in OneSearch to discover which book it is!


a database listing and describing the books, journal articles, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual and other materials held by the ASU Library.  You can search for items in the catalog by Author, Title, Keyword or Subject.

check out

the ability to take most materials out of the library, for a loan period using your university ID card.  Check Out is done from the reference desk or self-check-out kiosk. 


the service point at which books  and other materials are checked in and out of a library, usually a long counter located near the entrance or exit, which may include a built-in book drop for returning borrowed materials


In the literary sense, any written or spoken reference to an authority or precedent or to the verbatim words of another speaker or writer. In library usage, a written reference to a specific work or portion of a work (book, article, dissertation, report, musical composition, etc.) produced by a particular author, editor, composer, etc., clearly identifying the document in which the work is to be found. The frequency with which a work is cited is sometimes considered a measure of its importance in the literature of the field. Citation format varies from one field of study to another but includes at a minimum author, title, and publication date. An incomplete citation can make a source difficult, if not impossible, to locate.

citation manager

Application software designed to enable researchers to collect bibliographic references quickly and easily, cite them properly, organize them effectively, and share them with others. Proprietary examples include EasyBibEndNoteMendeley, and RefWorks. A free open source example is Zotero.

course reserves

In academic libraries, materials given a shorter loan period (one-hour, three-hour, overnight, three-day, etc.) for a limited period of time (usually one term or semester) at the request of the instructor, to ensure that all the students enrolled in a course have an opportunity to use them. Items on closed reserve must be used on library premises. Instructors sometimes put personal copies on reserve, usually at their own risk.




a collection of information such as journal articles, books, magazines, and newspapers that can be searched to retrieve information.

digital reference

Reference services requested and provided over the Internet, usually via e-mail, instant messaging ("chat"), or Web-based submission forms, usually answered by librarians in the reference department of a library.

distinctive collections

rare books, manuscripts, and specialized materials related to art, design, music, theater, child drama, international studies, and other interdisciplinary subjects

due date

the date by which you must return to the library any library items that you have checked/loaned out.



e-book or electronic book

a digital version of a traditional print book that can be read on electronic devices such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.



full text

an entire text of a single work with an electronic copy that can be viewed on a computer or electronic device.


money charged to your account for items over due or not returned to the library. 




A type, class, or style of literature, music, film, or art. Genre criticism originated with Aristotle, who divided literature into three basic categories: dramatic, epic, and lyric. Today, literary works are classified by form (novel, short story, poetry, drama, etc.), by theme (adventure, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, western, etc.), and less often by subject (carpe diem poem). 

google scholar

A free service launched by Google in November 2004 that allows users to search the Internet for scholarly literature across many disciplines using the company's proprietary search software. According to Google, search results are ranked by relevance using an algorithm that examines the full-text of the work, its author(s), the publication in which the article appeared, and how many times the work has been cited in other scholarly literature. Google Scholar provides access to abstracts, peer-reviewed papers, periodical articles, theses, and books from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, university intranets, and other scholarly organizations. 

government documents

Publications of the U.S. federal government, including transcripts of hearings and the text obills, resolutions, statutes, reports, charters, treaties, periodicals (exampleMonthly Labor Review), statistics (U.S. Census), etc. In libraries, federal documents are usually shelved in a separate section by SuDocs number. The category also includes publications of other governmental bodies (state, local, territorial, foreign).




Words, phrases, or passages of text marked in a book with a broad-tipped, brightly colored pen for future study. The presence of highlighting diminishes the value of a book for resale, particularly for collectors. As a general rule, donated materials containing highlighting are added to a library collection only in exceptional cases. Highlighting can also be a form of defacement.



interlibrary loan (ILL)

When a book or other item needed by a registered borrower is checked out, unavailable for some other reason, or not owned by the library, a patron may request that it be borrowed from another library by filling out a printed interlibrary loan request form at a service desk, or electronically via the library's Web site. Some libraries also accept ILL requests via e-mail or by telephone, usually under exceptional circumstances. Materials borrowed on interlibrary loan may usually be renewed on or before the due date.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

A unique ten-digit standard number assigned to identify a specific edition of a book or other monographic publication issued by a given publisher. The ISBN is usually printed on the verso of the title page and on the back of the dust jacket of a book published in hardcover, or at the foot of the back cover in paperback editions. The ISBN is divided into four parts separated by a space or hyphen: a group identifier one to five digits in length identifying the national, language, geographic, or other area in which the edition is published; a publisher prefix one to seven digits in length uniquely identifying the publisher; a title number one to six digits in length identifying the title, volume, or edition of the work; and a check digit that allows any transcription errors in the preceding sequence to be detected by a computer.

For example, in the ISBN 0-8389-0847-0, the 0 at the beginning identifies the United States as the country of publication, the second element (8389) identifies the American Library Association as the publisher, the third element (0847) identifies the 2003 edition of the book Metadata Fundamentals for All Librarians by Priscilla Caplan, and the 0 at the end is the check digit. When a calculated check digit is the number 10, the letter X is used, but in the other parts of the ISBN only the Arabic numerals 0-9 are used. 




A periodical devoted to disseminating original research and commentary on current developments in a specific discipline, subdiscipline, or field of study (exampleJournal of Clinical Epidemiology), usually published in quarterly, bimonthly, or monthly issues sold by subscription (click here to see an example). 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. In journals in the sciences and social sciences, an abstract usually precedes the text of the article, summarizing its content. Most scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. Scholars often use a current contents service to keep abreast of the journal literature in their fields of interest and specialization. 




A significant word or phrase in the title, subject headings (descriptors), contents note, abstract, or text of a record in an online catalog or bibliographic database that can be used as a search term in a free-text search to retrieve all the records containing it. 

Most online catalogs and bibliographic databases include an option that allows the user to type words that describe the research topic (in any order) and retrieve records containing the search terms in the data fields the system is designed to search whenever the keywords option is selected. One disadvantage of a keywords search is that it does not take into account the meaning of the words used as input, so if a term has more than one meaning, irrelevant records (false drops) may be retrieved.


loan period

The length of time for which an item in the circulating collection of a library may be checked out by a borrower. Under normal circumstances, loan period is determined by the loan rule applied to a specific item, based on item type and the borrower's patron type. In most libraries, circulating items (except reserves) may be renewed for an additional loan period, provided no holds have been placed by other borrowers. Most libraries charge fines for items returned after the due date. 

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The complete alphabetic list of controlled vocabulary created by catalogers and used in cataloging since 1898 at the Library of Congress in assigning subject headings to facilitate access to the information content of newly published works. The list has syndetic structure in the form of USE references to direct the user from a synonym or quasi-synonym to the preferred term, and UF (used for), BT (broader term), RT (related term), and NT (narrower term) notes to indicate semantic relations between headings. Reference librarians often refer to the list as "the big red books" because it is published annually in several large volumes traditionally bound in red. Click here to learn more about LCSH, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

library guides

tailored website created and organized by a librarian or library professional on a broad range of topics and courses. 

For Example: If you need assistance with citations, visit our Citation Styles library guide. If you are enrolled in ENG 101, visit our ENG 101/107 library guide




A popular interest periodical usually containing articles on a variety of topics, written by various authors in a nonscholarly style. Most magazines are heavily illustrated, contain advertising, and are printed on glossy paper. Articles are usually short (less than five pages long), frequently unsigned, and do not include a bibliography or list of references for further reading. Most magazines are issued monthly or weekly for sale at newsstands, in bookstores, and by subscription. A selection of recommended English-language magazines is listed by subject in Magazines for Libraries, published by ProQuest. For a directory of magazine Web sites, try NewsLink

maker space

a safe space to collaborate and explore; services include 3D printing and scanning, A/V studio, vinyl cutting, book scanning, electronics and sewing. 




the library catalog and search tool for ASU Library, allowing you to search print and e-books, electronic resources, digital collections and more, all in one place.

open access

Information content made freely and universally available via the Internet in easy to read format, usually because the publisher maintains online archives to which access is free or has deposited the information in a widely known open access repository. Open access is a new model of scholarly publishing developed to free researchers and libraries from the limitations imposed by excessive subscription price increases for peer-reviewed journals, particularly in the sciences and medicine. By breaking the monopoly of publishers over the distribution of scientific research, open access makes access to scientific information more equitable and has the added advantage of allowing the author to retain copyright. 



peer review process

The process in which a new book, article, software program, etc., is submitted by the prospective publisher to experts in the field for critical evaluation prior to publication, a standard procedure in scholarly publishing. Under most conditions, the identity of the referees is kept confidential, but the identity of the author(s) is not. The existence and content of a manuscript under review is kept confidential within the offices of the publisher and by the referees, and all copies of the manuscript are returned to the publisher at the end of the process. In computer programming, source code may be certified by its owner or licenser as open source to encourage development through peer review. 

peer-reviewed article

Peer-reviewed articles are subjected to a process of critical evaluation by one or more experts on the subject, known as referees, responsible for determining if the subject of the article falls within the scope of the publication and for evaluating originality, quality of research, clarity of presentation, etc. Changes may be suggested to the author(s) before an article is finally accepted for publication. In evaluation for tenure and promotion, academic librarians may be given publishing credit only for articles accepted by peer-reviewed journals. Some bibliographic databases allow search results to be limited to peer-reviewed journals. 


a magazine or newspaper published periodically, quarterly, or annually. 

primary sources

In scholarship, a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic, used in preparing a derivative work. Primary sources include original manuscripts, periodical articles reporting original research or thought, diaries, memoirs, letters, journals, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, songs, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, etc. The History Section of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) within the American Library Association (ALA) provides a guide to Using Primary Sources on the Web



reference desk

Location in each library where you can get help in using library resources, services, and receive answers to your questions.

reserve materials

A selection of specific books, journal articles and other materials which faculty have indicated that students must read for a particular course. These materials are usually kept together in one area of the library and circulate for a short period of time only. Inquire at reference desk.



secondary sources

journal articles, books, political commentary, etc. that explain or analyze primary sources. For example, a biography on the portrayal of someone's life. 

self check-out

the ability to check out library materials at a self-help kiosk located inside the ASU Libraries


the row of book shelves located in any ASU Library 

streaming videos

a sequence of compressed moving images one way over a data network that allows viewing to begin before the entire file has been transmitted. For example, live streaming platforms and Video On Demand (VOD). 

style manual 

a guide with a set of rules (punctuation, capitalization, quotations, plagiarism) for composition, including format and manner of citing sources, to be used in a particular discipline or profession or by a particular publisher. 

subject heading

controlled vocabulary that is used to take the guesswork out of searching by using a single term to describe a subject.




A proposition advanced and defended in a formal disputation, especially by a candidate in partial fulfillment of university requirements for a master's degree. In the general sense, any proposition advanced and defended in expository speech or writing, usually given in the opening lines or paragraph(s).


The dropping of characters and the addition of a symbol at the end, beginning, or within a word in a keywords search to retrieve variant forms. Truncation is particularly useful in retrieving the singular and plural forms of a word in the same search.


A printed or online instructional tool designed to teach novices how to use a computer system or electronic resource, usually in a self-paced step-by-step manner, often with questions at the end for testing proficiency. Online tutorials have been developed by instruction librarians to accommodate distance learners and students who prefer online library instruction. 
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) represents a unique location or address of a resource located on the World Wide Web (www).

A company in the business of providing access to a selection of bibliographic databases by subscription (examples: EBSCOProQuestGale, etc.) or on a per search basis (OCLC FirstSearch and DIALOG), usually under licensing agreement. Providers of nonprint media are also commonly referred to as vendors. In a more general sense, any individual, company, or agency, other than a publisher, that provides products and/or services to a library or library system for a fee. 

video conference

A meeting of two or more participants conducted in real time at a distance using a video camera, microphone, and large television monitor or computer screen installed at each location, linked by satellite or digital network. Videoconferencing can save time and travel expense, especially in distance learning and in organizations with geographically separate units. 


credit to Bristol Community College for the library lingo idea and definitions 

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.