Glossary of library terms

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A short summary of the main content of publications, often journal articles but also other publications.


  1. the processes related to obtaining publications for library stock
  2. the department responsible for obtaining  publications for library stock


See Journal Article.

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The collection containing publications produced by Governments or Government departments. This is kept in the library basement and is Closed access.


The collection containing publications produced by International Organisations, such as the UN, IMF, etc. This is kept in the library basement and is Closed access.


The collection containing old Reference works. This is kept in the library basement and is Closed access

Bibliographic record

The record of an item in the format of a Bibliographic reference.

Bibliographic reference

A description of an item in a standard format, with sufficient information to identify and locate the item.  For example, the bibliographic reference for a book would contain the Title, Author or Editor, Edition, Place of Publication, Publisher and Year of Publication. The bibliographic reference for a Journal Article would contain the Title of the Article, Author of the Article, Title of the Periodical, Volume Number, Issue Number (or sometimes the month and date), Year of Publication, and the Page Numbers. Sometimes this is referred to as a bibliographic citation or citation. See also Reference.


  1. A stand-alone list of works on a particular topic, or by a specific author
  2. A list of sources consulted in writing a book, article, term paper or thesis, which appears at the end of the work.

BLDS catalogue

see Catalogue.

BLDS Updates

A service delivered by email, or RSS feed, or available via the BLDS website, which gives details of the latest published material that has been added to the BLDS collection.  These are available for 24 different subject areas, and 5 regions, and are produced approximately every 2 weeks. [This service is currently on hold but we hope to have it running again shortly].

Book stacks

The shelves where books are kept. There are Open Access book stacks on the library first floor and ground floor, and Closed access stacks in the basement.

Borrower number

A unique identifier for your personal Library Card; this appears under the barcode on your card.

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Card catalogue

see Catalogue.


A list of all print resources held by the library. Use the catalogue to search for items in the BLDS, and to check where to find them.  BLDS has an online catalogue, which is available through the Internet. As well as books and journal titles this includes records for articles in 180 journals.  Materials we received after 1988, and many we received before, are listed in our online catalogue; other materials received before 1988 are listed in a card catalogue. Electronic resources we subscribe to can be found through the E-library.

Catalogue record

the details on the catalogue about an individual publication or article. This gives bibliographic information, and Location details, and may include information about the availability of an item, or parts of a journal received.


see Bibliographic reference.

Closed access

Materials in closed access need to be collected for users by library staff. All collections in the basement are closed access. These are BasementGP, BasementIO, BasementRF. Basement collection requests may be made online directly from the Catalogue record: add to My items and follow instructions. 


  1. A specific category of publications within the library; e.g. Monographs
  2. The total resources of the library, also known as Holdings.

Law that limits what can be copied from printed publications – usually this is no more than one chapter, or 5% from a book, or one article from one issue of a journal. The law also covers electronic, visual and audio materials. The UK Copyright Service website provides more information, as do our copyright guidelines.

Corporate author

The organisation which has authored a work. Sometimes this is the same as the organisation which has published a work. Books in BLDS are often shelved under the corporate author rather than a personal author.

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Electronic collections of organised information, which can be searched in a systematic way. This can be collections of statistics; Bibliographic reference; Full text works; contact details, etc.


see Subject descriptors.

Document delivery

A service to remotely supply scans or copies of journal articles and book chapters from the BLDS Collection. This service is for remote users only.

Due date

The date when the item borrowed is due to be returned to the library. This will be stamped on a date label inside the item (unless it has been renewed online).


  • 7-day loans and 42-day loans are due back at 5.30pm on the due date.
  • Overnight loans are due back at 11am.
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An abbreviation of Electronic book; a book that is in digital format and can be read in full online. BLDS subscription E-books are listed on the catalogue. An Athens password is required to access BLDS E-books (IDS staff & students only)


An abbreviation of Electronic journal. Journals published in electronic format. BLDS has subscriptions or access to a large number of e-journals, which means the full text of articles can be accessed over the internet for free. If not in IDS, usually you will need to enter your Athens login details (IDS staff and students), or in some cases your University of Sussex username and password before you can gain full access.


The part of the BLDS website where we have provided access to our electronic resources.  These include some freely available resources, as well as resources to which we have subscriptions.  We have many more print journals than those available electronically, so you should search the Catalogue for titles you do not find listed in the e-library.


Resources which are available in electronic form, over the Internet, or on CD Rom.

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A searchable category within a Database. An example in a Bibliographic record is the title field – where you will see the title of the work.


Charges you have to pay for books returned later than the Due date or due time. Fines are charged as a way of minimising late return. Details of fines charged can be found here.

Full text

The entire content of an article or work (as opposed to just an Abstract or Citation.

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Group study room

Room on the library ground floor which is available for group work. This can be booked by filling in the timetable on the door.

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Hard copy

The paper (as opposed to electronic) version of a publication.


The total book, journal, and electronic resources held by the library. This is also referred to as the Collection.

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Database of Bibliographic records.


Producing descriptive information about resources, including determining which Subject descriptorscan represent a particular item.

Interlibrary request

The system for obtaining loans of books or copies of articles from other libraries. IDS staff and students are eligible to use this service for material which is not available in BLDS or in the University of Sussex Library. A form can be downloaded rfom our Interlibrary request pages.

Items from the BLDS collection can also be supplied on interlibrary loan to other institutions. Details here.


International Standard Book Number. Every published book title is given a unique ISBN to identify it. Different editions of the same book, and hardback, paperback and electronic versions of the same edition, have unique ISBNs.


International Standard Serial Number. Every published serial (journal, periodical, series) is given a unique ISBN to identify it.  Electronic versions have unique ISSNs.

Item type

The category of item, according to the amount of time it can be borrowed for, or whether it is an article or DVD. The standard loan length is Long Loan (42-days). Teaching collection and Research methods items can be borrowed for  7-days or overnight.  Journal and Quick reference items are for Reference use only.

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Publications issued at regular intervals, with each issue containing several different Journal Article. Many academic (or scholarly) journals only publish articles which have been through a process called Peer review. All Hard copy journals which can be found on the library shelves are listed in the Catalogue. Most, but not all, Journals in BLDS are shelved in the Serials collection.

Journal Article

A piece of work published in a journal,often concerning the latest research on a topic. Individual articles from about 180 of the journals we take are listed in the Catalogue.

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Library Card

The card you need to use to borrow books from BLDS. For IDS staff and students this is the same as your IDS Access card, but it needs to be brought to the library to be registered for library use. Other users will be given a library card on registering for membership at the library counter.


The area of the library in which a publication is kept.  There are a number of different locations, also known as book Collections. These are shown on each individual Catalogue record and will help you to find the item. You will also need to note down the information following Shelved at.

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A controlled list of terms (words or phrases) used to describe different subjects. BLDS staff use the UN Macrothesaurus in Social and Economic Development to choose Subject descriptors to assign to each entry in the Catalogue.


  1. In BLDSthe Monographs collection contains books and other documents which do not fit into other library Collection (because they are not part of Series, and are not published by international organisations or Governments).
  2. A general definition of a monograph is: a single document that forms a complete text in itself.

My Account

See Your Account

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A collection of post-1993 material from a number of International Organizations, including the World Bank, some UN bodies, and the UK Department for International Development. These are shelved on Open Access on the library ground floor.

On loan

The Loan type Status of an item that has been borrowed. This is shown on the Catalogue record, once you have clicked on availability.

Online catalogue

see Catalogue

Open Access

- Material in the collection which users should find on the shelves themselves. Users should not replace material on the shelves.

- Also, digital information which is freely available online for use or re-use.

Overnight loans

An item which can be borrowed overnight (or over the weekend/ other days when the library is closed).  Overnight loans are due back at midnight on the due date. 

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Peer review

The process of judging a piece of work, usually a Journal Article by an independent panel of experts in the field. Peer reviewed material is considered more academically reliable than work that has not undergone this process.

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Quick reference

A collection of the latest Reference publications, including statistics, dictionaries, factbooks and directories, on all major regions and subject areas. These materials are shelved on the first floor, on Open Access and cannot be borrowed.

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Reading list

The list of reading materials required for specific lectures or classes.

Reading Lists Online

Web interface for accessing IDS Masters reading lists


The part of a Reservation which results in a request to the current borrower to return an item within a certain time period, which may be sooner than the original due date. You may receive a recall notice for a book you have on loan which another user has reserved.


See also Bibliographic reference

  1. A description of a source used in producing a piece of written work. This could be a book, journal article or web page. 
  2. Material in BLDS (and other libraries) such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, statistics or directories, which are used to quickly look up relevant information. The Library has an up to date  selection in the Quick reference collection. These cannot be borrowed


To extend the date when an item on loan is due to be returned.
If you want to keep an item you have borrowed for longer you can usually renew it (excluding overnight loans) unless it has been Reservation by someone else, or you have exceeded the number of permitted renewals. Renewals can be made in person, online through your My Account, or by phone.

Research methods

A Collection of materials on research methods, including user guides for statistical tools, and information on undertaking doctoral research. Some of these titles are essential readings on Reading list. Books in this collection can be borrowed for 7-days or overnight, or may be for library use only.


A request for an item that is currently on loan,to be held for the reserver once returned. You can place a Reservation online using Your account. Reserved books will be Recalled from the current borrower, which means that they may be given a Due date sooner than the original one.

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  1. In BLDS, the serials Collection contains Journal and Series of papers (working papers, research reports etc) which we subscribe to. These are shelved on Open Access on the library ground floor, and are arranged by country of publication (designated by a number) and then alphabetically.
  2. General definition of a serial - a regular publication, or something published in instalments, such as a periodical, magazine or Journal.


Books or papers published under a general title (although individual ones may have individual titles as well), often numbered - for example, IDS Working Papers.

Shelved at

The indicator of where the item can be found on the shelf. This is shown on each individual Catalogue record and should be noted when you look for an item on the shelves.


see Book stacks


Information on the Catalogue record, if you have clicked on availability or parts received (for journals).  This will indicate whether an item has been borrowed (= on loan), or is available (= on shelf), reserved, missing, etc, and whether a particular journal issue has been received, is overdue, etc.

Study Direct

The online virtual learning environment provided by University of Sussex where course readings and information, accessible via Reading Lists Online, are held. 

Subject descriptors

Words or phrases used to describe the subject/s a text is about. Catalogue record in BLDS include subject descriptors, taken from a Macrothesaurus.

Subject guides

Subject focussed resource guides which provide quick access to BLDS resources through pre-designed searches of the online Catalogue as well as links to other key resources on the topic. [This service is currently on hold but we hope to have it running again shortly].

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Teaching collection

The section of the library where books which are on IDS student Reading lists (usually as essential readings) are kept.   Books in this collection are lent for 7-days or overnight or are for  library use only.  The Teaching Collection is on the 1st floor, near the service counter.


Abbreviation of table of contents, often headed simply as 'Contents'. The table of contents is a list of the parts of a book or other text organized in the order in which the parts appear.

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Your Account

Library members can use Your  Account to check loans, place reservations and renewals. You will need your Borrower number and password to access this. See Your Account page.

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