Access Services

Access services is the group of library workers who make the library usable for our patrons. Access services includes duties such as working at the service desks, reshelving books, managing course reserves, opening/closing the building, and other behind-the-scenes actions.


An archive is a (physical or virtual) place that gathers documents, newspapers, memorabilia, pictures, and more related to a specific topic. For example, UF has an archive that is dedicated to the history of the University of Florida.


Ares is an online course reserve system. Electronic materials (such as e-books, journal articles, and streaming video) selected by professors for your classes can be accessed online through the Ares. These items are often linked to your course Canvas page, as well. For many of the electronic items supplied through the UF Libraries, you’ll also need to connect using the VPN if you are off campus.

Ask A Librarian

Ask A Librarian is a free service to help you with library- and research-related questions. Library workers at UF answer questions in person and by phone, email, instant messaging, and texting. Click the orange “Ask Us” box on the left side of any library website page to live chat with a library expert!

Call Number

A call number is the combination of letters and numbers that describes the subject of the item and where an item can be found in the library. On the shelves, books are arranged by call number. A call number is like an address to finding a book.


A library catalog (much like a clothes catalog) is the log of all items (books, journals, DVDs, etc.) that the library owns or has access to.

Check Out

Check out (also called a “loan”) describes when you borrow materials from the library. UF undergraduate students can borrow most items for up to eight weeks.

Circulating Technology

In addition to books, the libraries at UF also have nontraditional materials available to borrow, including lots of technology. The circulating technology collection includes things like portable 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, sewing machines, tools, podcasting microphones, 360° cameras, and more.


Circulation refers to the lending aspect of libraries. A circulating item is something that you can borrow and take home. The circulation desk (or “Service Desk”) is where you can check out these items. The circulation staff are library workers who manage all aspects of the borrowing process.


A citation is a reference to a book, newspaper, journal article, or other work containing the information a reader needs to locate that work. A citation to a book, for example, includes information like the author's name, book title, publishing company, place of publication, and date of publication.

Citation Trail

Because scholarly writing is really a conversation between experts, you can track how the conversation has changed over time using citation trails. Using databases, you can find resources from before and after any article you’re reading that have influenced one another. Ask your librarian for a quick demonstration about creating citation trails.

Course Reserves

Course reserves are materials, such as textbooks and journal articles, available for use in specific courses at the request of your professors. Some items are available in print in the libraries and some are electronic materials online. Course reserves are a way for you to access course materials at no cost.


Scholarly databases are used to search for and locate specific journal articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, and more. There are many databases available through the Libraries, and many of them are especially tailored to different majors. Unlike Google or Google Scholar, databases have powerful filtering tools to narrow down your search.


E-books are electronic books that can be read from your computer, phone, or tablet. Students at UF have access to a huge number of e-books through the Libraries that can be used for classes, research, or entertainment. You can read these from the comfort of your own bed!


An exhibit is a public display of objects with accompanying cultural or educational information, found commonly in museums and libraries. In the Libraries at UF, exhibits highlight items found in our collections and tell a story or interpretation of their significance.

Finding Aids

Finding aids describe archival records and collections. They can help you browse the archives and discover exactly what you’re looking for.

Full Text

Full text refers to a complete electronic copy of a resource, usually a journal article or book chapter. The Libraries’ subscriptions to academic journals grant you access to the full text of many articles online.


Gator1 is the student identification card issued to all UF students.


Your GatorLink account is the username and password you use across all UF websites and systems.

General Collection

The general collection of a library refers to items available on the shelves to check out and take home. At UF, most general collection items can be checked out by undergraduate students for eight weeks.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free-to-use search engine for finding scholarly literature. While Google Scholar is a useful tool that is often the first place many researchers go when they need to do a search, it also has limitations.

Students should be aware that the results they see in Google Scholar are influenced by advertising and are not held to the same quality assurance standards as literature databases available through the Libraries.

You can reach out to your subject specialist librarian for recommendations on other tools available to you!

Information Literacy

Information literacy is the collection of skills involved in finding information, understanding how information is valued, evaluating the credibility of information, and using information in a way that respectfully acknowledges the works of others. Librarians are here to help you along the way.

Inter-Library Loan (ILL)

Inter-library loan (ILL) is a service (at no additional cost to students) that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. If the UF Libraries doesn’t have something you want to read, we will help you get it through ILL.


A journal is a publication issued on a regular basis that contains scholarly research. Journals contain research and perspectives published as articles, reviews, papers, research reports, or technical reports. Scholarly journal articles are usually peer reviewed.

KIC Scanner

KIC scanners are the book scanners available in the Libraries at UF. Unlike the scanners attached to most computers where you have to lay a book flat and facing down, these scanners can image books easily with a camera facing down toward a book holder.


LibGuide is short for “Library Guide” and often called a “Research Guide.” These guides are created by librarians to help you find information on a topic. For example, if you wanted to learn how to do research in the library, you could check the Introduction to Library Research Guide.


A library loan (or “check out”) describes when you borrow materials from the library. UF undergraduate students can borrow most items for up to eight weeks.


A makerspace is a shared space for creating! Library makerspaces usually have supplies and technology for crafting, 3D printing, digital development, and more. In addition to makerspaces at UF, the Alachua County Public Library also has a makerspace.


Metadata are information that allows someone to identify, locate, and retrieve a resource. Metadata are what make items in the library searchable and findable.


Microform are small copies of printed materials (such as newspapers, maps, etc.) that allow for large amounts of materials to be stored in a small amount of physical space. Microform is less commonly made now, but UF holds some materials in microform.

Open Access

Open access resources (such as this guide) are available online to read free of cost to the public. Some journal articles, entire journal issues, and academic books are open access. To publish research open access, authors might be charged a fee.

Peer Review

Peer review is a process in which experts review books chapters or journal articles submitted for publication in their research fields. Reviewers look for sound research methods and conclusions. Reviewers may ask authors to make revisions to their work before it is either accepted or rejected for publication. Peer-reviewed journal articles are also commonly called refereed articles, scholarly articles, or academic articles.


A periodical is a type of publication that comes out regularly in issues, such as a newspaper, magazine, or academic journal. They might be scholarly or general resources, depending on the intended audience.

Primary Source

A primary source is an original, first-hand account of an event. Depending on the context, a primary source could be something like a diary, newspaper article, laboratory journal, or a social media post.

Primo Search Tool

Primo is a search tool located on the Libraries' websites. This tool allows you to search the library catalog for items we have available (books, e-books, journals, streaming video, technology, and more). Primo can also search beyond the catalog for journal articles and other resources online.

Proctoring Booth

Library West has some private rooms for online test-taking that can be reserved online through the same website as the study rooms. These are commonly called "proctoring booths." Reserve early!

Proxy Server

Proxy servers are used by libraries to give users electronic access to materials through their web browsers. Using the Library EZproxy server is easy for pulling up a journal article or e-book, but we recommend using VPN software for longer search sessions. (See also: VPN.)

Reference Collection

The reference collection refers to items that can be used inside the library but cannot be checked out. In most libraries, you’ll need to ask for reference materials from the main service desk.

Reference Manager

Reference managers (also called "citation managers") are software that help you collect, organize, and manage your citations throughout your research process. It can be especially helpful for extensive research projects where you may have many citations. When you go to write a paper, you can use citation managers to automatically format your in-text citations and your list of references at the end.

Research Guides

A research guide (often called a "library guide" or “LibGuide") is a guide created by librarians to help you find information on a topic. For example, if you wanted to learn how to do research in the library, you could check the Introduction to Library Research Guide.

Scholarly Source

Scholarly sources are written by experts in their research field for an audience of fellow researchers. These most commonly include journal articles and academic books. Oftentimes, professors are specifically referring to “peer-reviewed sources” when they mention “scholarly sources.”

Service Desk

The service desk is the place where the magic happens. Check out items, ask questions about research, and get help with whatever you need from the friendly library workers at the main desk. Also called the “circulation desk.”

Special Collections

Special collections are the crossover between libraries and museums: these collections cannot be checked out and are usually historic materials, but they can be used in designated reading rooms in the library.

At UF, rare books, photographs, memorabilia, archives, and other items are housed in Special Collections in the Smathers Library. Undergraduate students are welcome to use these items in Smathers!

Pro Tip: Reach out to Special Collections ahead of time so that they can get the items you want to see ready for your arrival.


Stacks are the shelving the library uses to hold materials. Library West has moving stacks!


"STEM" is a common acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Study Carrel

A study carrel is a type of desk with dividers around an individual study space. They are found commonly in the quiet sections of libraries.

Study Room

Study rooms are individual rooms that groups of students can use for study sessions and team projects. Most of the study rooms in the Libraries can be reserved online.

Subject Librarian

A subject librarian (or "subject/area specialist") is a librarian who has expertise in a particular subject, discipline, or topic. Every major at UF has a subject librarian who is uniquely qualified to help them with their research.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network (VPN) provides secure remote access to a specific network. In the case of UF, the GatorLink VPN provides access to the UF network and makes it appear as though your computer is physically attached to the campus network. This allows you to access library materials from anywhere in the world.

Keep in mind — the UF VPN provides secure access to the UF network, but not anonymous access. Your online activity is still visible to UF.


Weeding refers to the removal of obsolete, outdated, or damaged materials from a library collection. It's a healthy part of every library!


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Undergraduate Guide to the George A. Smathers Libraries Copyright © 2022 by Nabil M. Chowdhury; Ava K. Kaplan; Cassidy Smith; Omolola Suleiman; Alexandrea Glenn; and Michelle M. Nolan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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