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This glossary provides brief definitions for terms used by GLAMs and GLAM partners. Feel free to add more terms, or propose them!

This list also includes some Wikimedia terms directly relevant to GLAM-Wiki. For more Wikimedia terminology, see m:Glossary.


  • AACR: Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules - data content standard for library catalogue descriptions
  • AAT: the art & architecture thesaurus kept by the J. Paul Getty Foundation
  • Abstract: a brief summary of a work, usually a scholarly publication
  • Access point: a point of entry to a systematic collection of bibliographic information
  • Accession: the formal acquisition of an item by a library, archives, or museum
  • ACRL: Association of College and Research Libraries
  • Aggregator: database providing access to abstracts or full text of materials from multiple publishers
  • ALIA: Australian Library and Information Association
  • ALA: American Library Association
  • ALISE: Association for Library and Information Science Education
  • Archives: organized permanent collection of records.
  • ASCAP: American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
  • Authentication: process to validate a user's identity to allow access to an electronic system
  • Authority control: system for maintaining consistency in access points (author name, publication title, etc) used for indexes or databases
  • Authority record: authoritative form of a name, subject heading, geographic term, or uniform title used in authority control


  • BEACON: a simple format to exchange links
    statistical analysis of written works, usually associated with assessing scholarly impact
  • BIP: Books in Print, a reference volume listing all books currently published or distributed in the US
  • Boolean: logical system used to combine words or phrases using operators while searching, for the purpose of expanding or narrowing retrieval
  • Born digital: materials originally created in electronic form
  • Bounce rate: rate of website visitors who leave the site after visiting only a single page


  • Call number: a classification number used to locate a book or other physical item on a shelf
  • Catalog or Catalogue: a systematic listing of something, such as library materials
  • Cataloguing: the creation of metadata to represent information resources. Usually includes both descriptive (outlining physical details) subject-based (classification or indexing) aspects of the object.
  • Catalogue raisonné or Catalog raisonné: a "reasoned catalogue" of artworks with description, dimensions, sale dates or other information, by one artist, in one collection or "school"
  • Circulation: the lending of resources by a library
  • Classification: arrangement of materials according to a defined subject hierarchy system, such as Dewey or LCC, see also Ontology
  • CNI: Coalition for Networked Information
  • CLA: Canadian Library Association
  • COinS: Open markup standard for embedding metadata into html and xml pages that allows machine-readable extraction of citation information
  • Controlled vocabulary: standardized language used for searching or indexing
  • Copyleft: the practice of allowing to freely distribute a work and derivatives thereof, with the stipulation that the licensing is maintained
  • Copyright: the exclusive right of a creator to use and distribute a work
  • CORE: Connecting Repositories - a project to aggregate and enrich all distributed open access content
  • COUNTER: project to develop consistent and reliable metrics for e-resource usage
  • Creative Commons (CC): copyright licenses that allow creators to express how others can share and use their creative works
  • CrossRef: international DOI registration agency
  • Crosswalk: a chart indicated equivalencies between different metadata standards


  • DACS: Describing Archives: A Content Standard. Rules for Archival Description (US)
  • DAM: digital asset management - a system to organize and present local digital content
  • Database: a dynamic digital file of uniform records used for access and retrieval
  • DDB: Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek the German aggregator to EUROPEANA
  • DDC: Dewey Decimal Classification - a subject-based organizational system used for library resources, most commonly at public libraries
  • Decorative arts: a category of objects in museum collections ranging from furniture to pottery, collected and treasured for their decoration rather than their original purpose
  • Delpher: Aggregator for full-text Dutch historical newspapers, books, magazines and other publications
  • Descriptive bibliography: the cataloging style used in the cataloging of rare books and antiquarian materials
  • Deep web: web content that is publicly accessible but not crawled by search engines
  • Digital divide: inequality in ability to access or use digital technology, particularly the internet
  • Digital humanities: an academic area of study concerned with reflexive engagement with digital tools and methods to examine the humanities
  • Diplomatic: area of study based on the critical analysis of documents
  • Discoverability: a measure of how readily a piece of content can be located
  • Discovery service: a single search portal providing integrated access to a library's resources via a central index
  • DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals
  • DOI: digital object identifier - a unique identifier for a digital item such as a journal article
  • DPLA: Digital Public Library of America is an aggregator and acts as a union catalog and discovery tool for digitised content
  • DRM: digital rights management - access control technology
  • Dublin Core: a metadata system for simple and generic resource descriptions


  • EAC: Encoded Archival Context - XML standard for encoding descriptions of people, families and corporate bodies
  • EAD: Encoded Archival Description - XML standard encoding descriptions of archival materials
  • Embargo: time period after publication in which journal article full text cannot be viewed through a database
  • Ephemera: materials for a specific purpose designed to be discarded (eg. tickets, brochures)
  • ERM: electronic resource management - a system for managing licensed third-party resources (including collection development, rights, access management)
  • Europeana: a web portal for digitized cultural content from across Europe
  • EZProxy: proxy server used to enable remote users to access licensed content


  • Facet: a characteristic of a resource (eg. language, format) used for searching or browsing
  • FBF: Frankfurt Book Fair
  • Federated search: search interface designed to query multiple engines/databases through a single search box. (See Federated Search vs Discovery Layers)
  • Finding aid: a guide or index describing an archival collection
  • Fonds: organic aggregation of records from a particular source. In the US, "collection" will be used instead.
  • FOSS: free and open source software - free software for which the source code is publicly available
  • FUTON bias: the tendency to prefer citing resources that are freely available in full text online


  • GIS: Geographic Information Systems
  • GLAM: cultural heritage institutions, including galleries, libraries, archives, and museums
  • GLAM-Wiki: an initiative to connect cultural institutions with Wikipedia editors
  • GND: Integrated Authority File - ontology of names, titles, and subject headings
  • Grey literature: scholarly materials that are not commercially published


  • HathiTrust: a digital preservation repository intended to provide open access to cultural materials


  • Identifier:
    • a character string used to uniquely represent a resource, such as an ISBN or a DOI
    • a keyword or concept used in indexing to represent a proper name or an idea not covered by descriptors like subject headings
  • IFLA: International Federation of Library Associations
  • ILL: interlibrary loan - the process of obtaining a resource held by another library
  • ILS: integrated library system, also termed library management system (LMS). Integrated software system used for library resource acquisition, cataloguing, and management.
  • Impact factor: a measure of average citations to recent articles in a particular journal, used to estimate relative importance of the journal to the field
  • Index:
    • list providing title, author and subject access to a set of publications using controlled vocabulary
    • guide to the literature of a particular subject area
    • back-of-book alphabetical list of subjects covered in the work
  • Information literacy: the ability to recognize and satisfy a need for information using research techniques
  • Internet Archive: organization that preserves copies of born-digital materials as well as digitized texts and multimedia
  • ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description. Rules for Archival Description (international)
  • ISBN: standard number given to published books to uniquely identify the title and edition
  • ISNI: International Standard Name Identifier - numeric identifier for contributors to media content
  • ISSN: standard number given to serials to uniquely identify the title


  • Journal: a scholarly periodical that publishes research and commentary on a particular topic


  • Keyword:
    • a search term used in free-text searching
    • an abstracting term used to represent the content of a work
  • Knowledgebase: a centralized data repository used in expert systems or resource management


  • LCC: Library of Congress Classification - a classification system used primarily in North American academic libraries
  • LCCN: Library of Congress Control Number - serial numbers of Library of Congress catalogue records, used for unique identification and association with a stable URL
  • LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Liaison librarian: a librarian assigned to one or more university departments to perform instruction, collection development, and other roles in their specific subject specialties
  • Library of Congress: US national library
  • Link resolver: context-sensitive software that connects a bibliographic citation with the corresponding full-text resource using OpenURL
  • Linked open data: machine-readable structured data that is interlinked and under an open license
  • Linkrot: process by which URLs break over time
  • LODLAM: linked open data in libraries, archives and museums
  • Lua: Computer programming language, used in MediaWiki wikis


  • MARC: machine-readable encoding standard for bibliographic descriptions
  • MediaWiki: Open-source wiki software, used n WMF projets and others
  • Metadata: data that describes and gives information about other data
  • Microformat: A way of marking up web content to be machine readable; used in many WMF project templates
  • Monograph: a publication on a specialized subject written by a subject-matter expert
  • MPEG21-DIDL: format for metadata about the structure of composed objects


  • NARA: National Archives and Records Administration (US)
  • Neng: foreign-language materials
  • NISO: National Standards Organization - develops technical standards for libraries and publishers


  • OA: open access - materials available online without restriction of cost (gratis) and potentially under a free license (libre). This can be achieved by self-archiving by the author (green OA) or by the journal/publisher (gold OA)
  • OAI: Open Archives Initiative - organization devoted to the development of interoperable metadata frameworks for digital archives
  • OAI-PMH: Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
  • OCLC is a library service and research organization. Among other things, it and its member libraries produce and maintain WorldCat
  • OCR: optical character recognition - technology used to digitize textual materials
  • OPAC: online public access catalogue of materials available in a library or group of libraries
  • OER: open educational resources
  • Ontology: definition of types, properties, and relationships of entities for a particular domain
  • Open access: "free availability [of materials] on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself" (Budapest Open Access Initiative)
  • Open Access Button: a bookmarklet that records instances of hitting a paywall
  • Open content: material available under a license that allows it to be freely used and modified
  • Open source: coding or design openly available under a free license
  • OpenGLAM: an initiative to promote free and open access to digital cultural heritage
  • OpenURL: format for online communication of bibliographic details
  • ORCID: Open Researcher and Contributor ID - unique identifier for academic authors, etc.
  • Orphan work: a work for which the copyright holder is unknown or unfindable


  • Pathfinder: webpage that presents a compiled list of links to resources on a particular topic
  • Paywall: a restriction on access without subscription
  • Peer review: provision of copies of an article considered for publication to recognized experts in the field for review. Differs from Wikipedia's peer review and other review processes.
  • Periodical: publications at regular intervals, such as newspapers or journals
  • PKP: Public Knowledge Project - initiative to make results of publicly funded research freely available to the public
  • PMID: PubMed identifier - number assigned to PubMed records
  • Point-of-use: instruction or tutorial delivered to the user when and where they are using an unfamiliar resource
  • Prehistory: before the period of textual recording.
  • Primary sources: in History, primary sources are objects and documents created or written during the time being investigated, for example during an event or very soon after (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 AU)
  • Public domain: the state of works not or no longer under copyright
  • PURL: persistent URL - a stable identifier that returns a web resource through a resolution server


  • Query: retrieval request inputted into search engine or database
  • QR Code: matrix barcode providing encoded data
  • QRpedia: QR code project providing language-sensitive links to Wikipedia articles


  • RAD: Rules for Archival Description (Canadian)
  • RDA: Resource Description and Access - a standard for bibliographic cataloguing
  • RDF: Resource Description Framework - data model that uses triples to express metadata about a resource
  • Readers' advisory: service to recommend titles for a patron to read based on their interests and reading history
  • Ready reference: a reference question that can be easily answered in a short time using a single source
  • Reference: a citation
  • Reference desk: a location in a library where a research librarian is available to respond to questions
  • Reference interview: conversation conducted by a librarian to establish the nature of a patron's specific question/need
  • Repository: a digital archive for collecting and distributing scholarly output, particularly green OA materials and grey literature
  • Research guides: subject- or task-based guides developed by librarians to provide users with advice and resources
  • Research library: a library with an extremely large extensive collection on a specific topic
  • ROAR: searchable international registry of open-access repositories
  • RPK: repository of public knowledge


  • Secondary source: in History, secondary sources are accounts about the past that were created after the time being investigated and which often use or refer to primary sources and present a particular interpretation (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 AU).
  • Selection: the process of deciding which resources should be acquired
  • Serendipity: finding relevant information while browsing without actively seeking it
  • Serials: publications at regular or irregular intervals; includes periodicals
  • SPARC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition - organization that promotes open access to scholarly materials
  • Special collections: library or library department that collects rare books, manuscripts, and other significant materials. Can overlap significantly with archives; in some cases the two are combined.
  • Special library: a library that is not part of a university, school, or public system - includes hospital libraries, business libraries, and others
  • SRU: Search and Retrieve via Urls: search protocol
  • Stopword: words not included in indices or database searches
  • Structural metadata: data describing the structure and relation of (composed) objects
  • Subject heading: term or phrase used in index or catalogue to describe the content of a work


  • TEI: Text Encoding Initiative - XML encoding scheme used to represent texts in digital form
  • Thesaurus: compendium of subject headings and their synonyms
  • TROVE: an Australian online library database aggregator, a free faceted-search engine hosted by the National Library of Australia
  • Truncation: in searching, use of beginning or concluding symbols to retrieve varied forms of search terms (eg. "librar*" for library OR libraries OR librarian)
  • TWL: The Wikipedia Library


  • UDC: Universal Decimal Classification - library classification system used for knowledge organization
  • Ulrichsweb: an international directory of periodicals


  • VIAF: Virtual International Authority File - project to create links between national authority files
  • Virtual reference (VRS): online reference service provided by chat or email. Also called chat reference, online reference, e-reference.
  • Visual Editor: WYSIWYG editor for MediaWiki wikis


  • WCAG: "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" - the ISO international standard for making web pages accessible
  • Web archiving: collecting portions of the World Wide Web to ensure the information is preserved in an archive for future researchers, historians, and the public.
  • Weeding: withdrawal of materials from the library collection. Also called deselection.
  • Wikidata: Linked, open data repository run by the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Wikimedia Commons: repository of open-license and public-domain media, run by the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Wikimedian in residence: a Wikimedian placed with a cultural institution to facilitate editing or uploads related to that institution and to develop its relationship with the Wikimedia community
  • Wikipedia Takes Your City: free-content photography contest involving photographing sites in a particular locale and uploading them to Wikimedia Commons
  • Wildcard: in searching, use of interpolated symbols representing zero or more characters to retrieve varied forms of search terms (eg. "colo?r" for colour OR color)
  • World Digital Library: ...
  • WorldCat: the world's largest online public access catalogue, itemizing the collections of thousands of worldwide libraries.


  • XML: Extensible Markup Language - language for encoding documents in machine-readable form




  • Z39.50: information retrieval protocol used in library applications

Further reading