ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science

ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz.

ODLIS is known to all librarians and graduate school library students but perhaps not to those of us who abuse library terminology in CS and related pursuits. Can’t promise it will make our usage any better but certainly won’t make it any worse. ;-)

This would make a very interesting “term for a day” type resource.

Certainly one you should bookmark and browse at your leisure.

History of the Dictionary

ODLIS began at the Haas Library in 1994 as a four-page printed handout titled Library Lingo, intended for undergraduates not fluent in English and for English-speaking students unfamiliar with basic library terminology. In 1996, the text was expanded and converted to HTML format for installation on the WCSU Libraries Homepage under the title Hypertext Library Lingo: A Glossary of Library Terminology. In 1997, many more hypertext links were added and the format improved in response to suggestions from users. During the summer of 1999, several hundred terms and definitions were added, and a generic version was created that omitted all reference to specific conditions and practices at the Haas Library.

In the fall of 1999, the glossary was expanded to 1,800 terms, renamed to reflect its extended scope, and copyrighted. In February, 2000, ODLIS was indexed in Yahoo! under “Reference – Dictionaries – Subject.” It was also indexed in the WorldCat database, available via OCLC FirstSearch. During the year 2000, the dictionary was expanded to 2,600 terms and by 2002 an additional 800 terms had been added. From 2002 to 2004, the dictionary was expanded to 4,200 terms and cross-references were added, in preparation for the print edition. Since 2004, an additional 600 terms and definitions have been added.

Purpose of the Dictionary

ODLIS is designed as a hypertext reference resource for library and information science professionals, university students and faculty, and users of all types of libraries. The primary criterion for including a term is whether a librarian or other information professional might reasonably be expected to know its meaning in the context of his or her work. A newly coined term is added when, in the author’s judgment, it is likely to become a permanent addition to the lexicon of library and information science. The dictionary reflects North American practice; however, because ODLIS was first developed as an online resource available worldwide, with an e-mail contact address for feedback, users from many countries have contributed to its growth, often suggesting additional terms and commenting on existing definitions. Expansion of the dictionary is an ongoing process.

Broad in scope, ODLIS includes not only the terminology of the various specializations within library science and information studies but also the vocabulary of publishing, printing, binding, the book trade, graphic arts, book history, literature, bibliography, telecommunications, and computer science when, in the author’s judgment, a definition might prove useful to librarians and information specialists in their work. Entries are descriptive, with examples provided when appropriate. The definitions of terms used in the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules follow AACR2 closely and are therefore intended to be prescriptive. The dictionary includes some slang terms and idioms and a few obsolete terms, often as See references to the term in current use. When the meaning of a term varies according to the field in which it is used, priority is given to the definition that applies within the field with which it is most closely associated. Definitions unrelated to library and information science are generally omitted. As a rule, definition is given under an acronym only when it is generally used in preference to the full term. Alphabetization is letter-by-letter. The authority for spelling and hyphenation is Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition). URLs, current as of date of publication, are updated annually.

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