Post contributed by field experience student Sydney Adams.
Sometimes it may seem like librarians are speaking another language. That’s normal, especially for undergraduate students new to academic research. Librarians use a lot of jargon! Here are some quick definitions for the next time you wonder “What is my librarian talking about?”
Call number – The unique combination of letters and numbers that you can use to find a book in Duke’s collection (ex: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is PR6068.O93 H375 2007). Duke uses the Library of Congress Classification Scheme which works well for large research libraries. This blog from the Divinity Library explains how to read Library of Congress call numbers. Ask at the front desk if you have trouble locating a book!
Database—An online collection organized by topic of articles, data, or citations that you can search for information related to class projects and more. Search for databases by title or subject on the Duke Libraries website. We have more than 1000!
Interlibrary Loan—A service that allows you to borrow materials from another library if we do not have them at Duke. You should never pay for an article while you’re here!
Scholarly Source—A source that elevates the quality of your research paper or project. Scholarly sources are written and reviewed by experts in your field of study and are usually published in academic journals, but they can also include published books, conference proceedings, and reports.
Special Collections—Collections of items, digital or physical, that are especially rare or unique. At Duke, our special collections are housed in Rubenstein Library. Learn more about Rubenstein’s collections and exhibits online.
Stacks—The area where the library’s books and other materials are stored. At Lilly and Perkins & Bostock, we have “open stacks” where you can search for materials yourself. The stacks are labeled in yellow on our floor maps.
Subject Specialists—Librarians who serve specific schools, departments, and programs. Have a research question? Reach out to the subject specialist for your area of study!