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Library Resources for International Students

Library Terms


A brief summary of a book, article, or other source. Some databases may use "Abstracts" in their titles to signify that they primarily contain abstracts of sources rather than the full-text.

Boolean Operators/Boolean Terms

The Boolean operators used by the UMSL Libraries catalog and most databases are AND, OR, and NOT. Using these words, you can combine search terms in order to get better search results. For example, you could search caffeine AND addiction if you were interested in researching the addictive qualities of caffeine.

Call Number

Call numbers are groups of letters and numbers that identify a specific physical item in the library and give you the information you need to locate that item. UMSL Libraries use the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) for call numbers, which enables sources to be organized by subject.


The library catalog, which can be accessed through Discover@UMSL, is your go-to spot for finding print and other physical resources at the library, although you can also find many online resources using the library catalog as well.  You can conduct a simple search from the library homepage, or select Advanced Search to search for items by title, author, subject, ISBN, ISSN, call number, or course reserve.

Check Out

Check out refers to borrowing an item from the library. The amount of time you can borrow an item for depends on what you are borrowing. Contact our Public Service Desk for more information about circulation, reserves, and Interlibrary Loan.

Course Reserves

Course reserves are materials (e.g. books, articles, videos) that your professor has had held at the library for your course. These materials tend to be high-use, and therefore have shorter loan periods. Some course reserves can only be used while in the library. Not all faculty use course reserves, so you should check with your faculty to see if items have been put aside at the library for your course.


Databases are organized collections of materials (like articles, book chapters, books, conference proceedings, images, datasets) that can be searched to locate relevant resources for your research and information needs. Some databases are interdisciplinary, which means they contain resources related to many subjects and disciplines, while others are subject-specific, which means they hold resources related to a specific field of study. You can access UMSL Library databases here.


Discover@UMSL is a catalog interface providing access to a wide variety of sources through electronic databases and the UM System’s library catalog, including journal articles, books, ebooks, media, and more. The search tool pulls results from many databases at once. You can conduct a basic search, or select advanced search to search for items by title, author, location, ISBN, language, collection, or date published.

Due Date

Due dates let you know by what date you should return items that you have borrowed from the library. To learn more about how to renew your loan (i.e. ask for an extension of your due date), see the Circulation and Access Guide.


E-journals (also known as electronic journals) are journals that you can access online via the library catalog or databases.  

Info & Research Help

We have an expert team of librarians who can assist you with your research. You can contact them in person, via email, by phone, or by live chat. Learn more about these options by visiting our Ask A Librarian page.

Information Literacy

According to the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, "information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning."

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan service allows UMSL students, staff, and faculty to request books, book chapters, articles, and other materials from other libraries. Some items (like articles and book chapters) are typically sent electronically as a PDF, while others (like books) are usually sent to the library for you to pick up from the Public Service Desk. Learn more about ILL in our Interlibrary Loan guide.


Most libguides are subject research guides that provide you with resources and tips for conducting research as an UMSL student. However, some libguides provide general research help or explain library services. All libguides are created by UMSL librarians and library staff to help you navigate the library and its resources. You can find a full list of libguides here.


Periodicals are materials that are published "periodically," which could refer to daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or even at irregular intervals. The most common examples of periodicals are newspapers, magazines, and scholarly articles.

Public Service Desk

The Public Service Desk is where you will go to check out books and other items from the library. It is located on the third floor of the library.

Reference Collection

The reference collection is a collection of materials that provide general information on topics. Examples of these materials include dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and handbooks. The reference collection in the Thomas Jefferson Library can be found in the northeast corner of the third floor. Materials from the reference collection cannot be checked out, although you can scan or copy relevant sections of materials using one of the printers in the library.


To renew a loan means that you are getting an extension on your due date. To learn more about how to renew your loan (i.e. ask for an extension of your due date), see the Circulation and Access guide.


Stacks are the shelves on which library materials are stored. UMSL Libraries use open stacks, which means that library patrons are free to explore the stacks and retrieve materials. You will use call numbers to find the items in the stacks that you would like to use. 

Retrieved from University Libraries, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA