International Student's Guide

Welcome to the University Libraries. As a student at the University at Albany, you will be using one of the top 100 research library systems in the United States.

The University Libraries consists of three (3) Libraries

  • The University Library, on the main campus supports most of the University's programs with emphasis placed on support of the academic programs in the social sciences and humanities.

  • The Science Library, on the main campus, supports science, mathematics and technology, and contains the M.E. Grendander Department of Special Collections and Archives.

  • The Dewey Graduate Library, on the downtown campus, specializes in criminal justice, social work, public administration and policy, information science, and law.

Knowing how to use the library effectively to complete your assignments, to explore new ideas, to do research, to stay current in your field, to learn about electronic resources, to find a quiet place to study can make your time as a student here more successful and enjoyable.

In this document you will find information on

Services at the University Library

Around the world, libraries are as different as the cultures they represent. In the United States, academic libraries are designed to promote scholarship and creative work at a particular university or college. One of the goals of the University Libraries is to help students become independent learners who are skilled in evaluating the complex world of information we live in today.

The University Libraries offer abundant resources, both print and electronic, for our students to use. We also offer services that will help you learn how to use those resources wisely.

Like most academic libraries in the U.S., the University Libraries are primarily self-service students find their own books and are expected to do independent research. Still, we hope you will ask for advice - our job is to help you do better work as a student. If there is anything about doing library research you don't understand, or would like to know, please ask us!

While much of the information included on this page applies to all three libraries, some services and locations are specific to the University Library.

Key Services

Reference Service

All Three Libaries and Online

Reference Librarians at all three libraries and online at http// can help you get started with your research, decide what resources to use, learn how to use print or electronic resources, & evaluate what you find. For further assistance you may also make an appointment with a bibliographer or subject specialist. For the subject specialist listing go to http//

Personalized Assistance With Searching -- PAWS - University Library

If you require more in-depth assistance, consider using PAWS. A librarian will meet with you for up to an hour to help with your research needs. Make an appointment at the University Library’s reference desk. More information is available at

Interlibrary Loan & ILLiad Electronic Request Service - University Library & Online

(delivery to Science and Dewey libraries upon request)

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) obtains books & journal articles not owned by the University at Albany from other libraries. To request items via ILL go to via ILL may take several days to several weeks depending on the availability of the items. Requested generally there is no cost to use ILL.

Electronic Reserves & Reserve Pages

If your instructor uses the University Libraries’ electronic reserves system, reserve materials can be accessed online. The link is available from the University Libraries main page

Library Guides & Tutorials-University Library & Online

  • Self-Guided Tour of the University Library
  • How To Locate Call Numbers

Web-based tutorials on searching the online catalog and databases (Researching 101), evaluating Web sites, plagiarism, and a virtual tour of the University Library. The electronic guides and tutorials can be found at Podcast tours of the University Library are available in English, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, & Spanish. Visit podcasts/.

The Interactive Media Center-University Library

The Interactive Media Center (IMC) of the University Library supports the creation of multimedia projects and the digital design of presentations, publications and Web sites. This is the only place on campus to accomplish activities such as assisted Web design, digital recording and editing, sophisticated image editing, and the use of analog to digital audio and video for research, instruction, publication and student activities. The IMC offers many instructional opportunities, including a large number of free classes (see for a schedule). You may also borrow digital cameras, digital camcorders, USB drives, tripods and other equipment from the IMC. The Interactive Media Center is open to all University students, faculty, and staff on a walk-in basis, however, we recommend that you plan ahead and contact us for an appointment at

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Are the Libraries? Can I Use All Three of Them?

The University Library is the building closest to the bell tower on the academic podium at the uptown campus. The Science Library is just behind the Campus Center uptown. The Dewey Library is in the Hawley Building at the downtown campus between Washington and Western Avenues. Students may use all libraries.

How Do I Find Out What the Library Owns?

Use the Libraries' online catalog, Minerva You can use the catalog inside the Libraries or from home. (

How Are the Books Arranged in the Library?

Most books are arranged according to the Library of Congress system, which groups books together by subject. Each book is given a call number, which combines letters with numbers, such as LA 11 C545 1985. Books that start with A through L are on the third floor; M through Z are on the second floor. Books are arranged from left to right on the shelves in alphabetical and numerical order according to their call numbers. A brief guide to this system is available on the Libraries' Web site (call.html) or at the Reference Desk.

How Do I Check Out Books?

Bring your books to the Circulation Desk and show your SUNYCard. Undergraduates can check out books for 1 month; graduate students for 3 months. If your books are not returned on time, you have to pay a fine. You can "renew" books (check them out again) when they become due. You can borrow most things from the library, except reference books and journals.

How Do I Find Journal Articles?

(1) To find articles on a topic, use a database accessed from the Libraries' Web site. Some of the databases contain references to articles, others contain the full text of the articles. (2) To see if the library owns the journal click on the "Find It" icon or use Minerva, the online catalog. (3) To find the actual journal,if the full text is not available online, go to the Periodicals Room in the basement.It is possible to request articles found in journals on the other campus via the document delivery service.

How Do I Photocopy Journal Articles?

You need to have money on your SUNYCard to photocopy articles. You use this instead of coins to pay for your copies. You can add money to your SUNYCard in each library. Copy machines are located in the Periodicals Room in the basement.

What Classes Can I Take at the Library?

Each semester the University Libraries offer a variety of classes. The Interactive Media Center in the University Library offers classes on developing web pages, scanning, and using a variety of software tools. Find more information on the Library Classes page on our web site. Learn how to search electronic databases and conduct Internet research in classes at the Dewey Library.

What Does It Mean If Something Is "on Reserve"?

Instructors sometimes put a book or article on reserve so that all students in a class have a chance to read it. Reserved materials can be borrowed for only a short time and have high fines if they are returned late. You can find reserved materials at the Circulation Desk in the lobby. Many reserve materials are available full-text online via the Electronic Reserves system.

What Can I Do If a Book I Want Is Checked Out?

You can ask at the Circulation Desk to have the book "recalled." The person who has borrowed the book will be asked to return it within two weeks. You can also recall a book using a form on the Libraries’ Website.

Library and Computer Terms Translated

(Hyperlinked terms are defined within this glossary)


A brief summary of a book or article.


An organized collection of papers or records preserved for research and reference.

Bibliographic Record

A full description of a particular book or article. When you search Minerva, you get a bibliographic record of a book. See Record.


A list of works published by a certain author, related to a certain subject, or used in writing a paper or book.

Boolean Logic/Boolean Operators

A system of linking terms in computer searching with the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.

Bound Periodical/Bound Volume

Several issues of a journal placed together between a hard cover.


(In computer searching) To look through various items to make a selection, such as lists of titles, authors, subjects, hypertext links, etc.

Call Number

A code of letters and numbers that describes the subject of a book and assigns it a location on the shelves.

Example  LA=history of education
					11 = general works
					C545 = author identification
					1986 = year published

Check out/Check in

To borrow a book from the library / To return a book to the library.


Books that can be borrowed from the library circulate. Books identified as "reference" or "building only" are noncirculating and cannot be borrowed.

Circulation Desk

The place you check books out and in, renew books, report a book missing from the shelves, or recall a book.


A complete reference to a book or article that has all the information necessary to identify it and find it. Book citations usually include the author, title, place of publication, publisher, and year. Journal citations usually include the author, title, journal id, date, volume, issue, and pages.


To give a citation, or reference, to something. (Do not confuse with Site.)

Controlled Vocabulary

A list of standardized words or phrases used in a particular database for computer searching. Descriptors and Library of Congress Subject Headings are controlled vocabularies.


To gather together. Printed indexes to journals are often published each month; at the end of the year they may be cumulated - combined into one bound volume.

Current Periodicals

Recent issues of magazines or journals. These are displayed in the Current Periodicals Reading Room located across from the Interactive Media Center (IMC) in the basement.


A collection of information in electronic form, organized for rapid computer searching. Most research databases are accessed through the Web.


In certain databases, a standardized term used to describe the subject of a journal article.


An original or official paper or publication.

Due Date

The date by which borrowed library materials must be returned.


Reserve materials that are available electronically. Use the ERes link on the University Libraries Web site.

Find It

A way to navigate between electronic resources. Provides access to full text online journal articles, when available.


A specific area in a database record that a computer can be made to search. Author, Title, and Subject are examples of fields.

Full Text

Entire, or nearly entire, articles in journals, newspapers, etc., that you can access directly on the computer. Often, graphics are not included.

Government Publications

Call numbers for U.S. government publications are based on a special system, and all begin with J85.


The books, years of a periodical, or other items the library owns.


Interactive Media Center. Located in the basement of the University Library. With both PC and Mac computers, MIDI devices, scanners, color and black and white printers, and audio/video digitizing equipment. A collection of sophisticated software features Web editors, audio and video applications, image editors, DVD burning tools, and much more.


(1) An alphabetical list of topics and their page numbers found in the back of a book. (2) An alphabetical list in electronic form of the authors, titles, or topics that appear in a particular database. (3) A reference book, CD-ROM, or online service that refers you to books, articles, or other works.

Information Commons

Computer areas available in the Libraries with a full suite of software.


More scholarly than magazines, journals print articles on academic subjects and are often published by professional groups or institutions.

Keyword Searching

A method of computer searching based on natural language rather than a controlled vocabulary list. Important ("key") words that might occur in titles, abstracts, or in full-text articles are chosen for search terms.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Official list of words and phrases used to describe what books and other items are about. Found in the red books near the Reference Desk, these expressions must be used for subject heading searches in Minerva.


A publication with articles often intended for recreational reading. Magazines are usually aimed at a more general audience than journals are.

Microform / Microfiche / Microfilm

Microform is a general term for microfiche and microfilm. These are photographic media used to store journals, newspapers, etc., in miniature form. Microfiche (or fiche) comes on sheets of film; microfilm comes on rolls. You must use special machines to read, enlarge, and photocopy microforms.


The online catalog at the University at Albany.


A group of computers that share information.


Connected to a computer network.

Online Catalog

Database on which you can check by author, title, and subject to see what the library owns and where it is located. Our online catalog is called Minerva.


Online Public Access Catalog. (a library's catalog)


Materials that have not been returned by their due date are considered overdue.

Personalized Assistance with Searching (PAWS)

Available by appointment only, this service offers access to databases in many subjects not otherwise available, as well as help in developing search strategies. Sign up or get information at the Reference Desk.


A general term that applies to magazines, journals and newspapers.

Periodical Index

An index that refers you to articles in periodicals including newspapers.

Periodicals Room

A series of rooms in the University Library basement where periodicals are shelved by call number. Each library has a periodicals section.

Primary Source

Original document, such as a manuscript or a typed or handwritten text.

Ready Reference Area

The set of shelves near the Reference Desk where the most frequently used reference books. Shelved at the beginning of the reference collection


To ask that a book be returned before its due date.


The basic unit of information in a database.Most of our databases have bibliographic records. On a CD-ROM, a record often includes the title, author, journal id, year, other publication information, and an abstract of a journal article.

Reference Books

Books in which you look up information. Some examples are dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases. Since many people need to use them often, print reference books, do not circulate. However, other reference sources are available online through the Libraries’ Reference Web site.

Remote Access

The ability to connect to a computer from a distant place. Students here have remote access to Minerva and to many research databases.


To extend the due date on a book.


To set a book or article aside so that many students in a class can use it. These items are available at the Circulation Desk or electronically on ERes.


(In computer searching) To get or access data.

Search Statement / Search Query

Search statement and query mean the same thing the terms you type into the computer when conducting a search.


A place on the Internet, such as a company's World Wide Web pages. (Do not confuse with Cite.)


Library shelves.

Subject Heading

See Library of Congress Subject Headings.


A computer station.


(1) A book of synonyms and antonyms. (2) A book or electronic resource that accompanies a particular database or field of study and lists the standardized, controlled vocabulary, such as descriptors, that can be used for search terms.


In computer searching, the technique of using a symbol with a word stem to make the computer retrieve various forms of the word. Example in Minerva the keyword search violin* will retrieve violin, violins, and violinist.


Uniform Resource Locator. A World Wide Web address. Example http//

World Wide Web / WWW

The part of the Internet based on hypertext. When you use the browsers Netscape or Internet Explorer, you are viewing the WWW.

Resources for International Students

Library Resources

Reference Desk Phone & Email

Internet Sites

University Libraries' Web site -- an award-winning site and an excellent place to start your Internet research

ACRL Multilingual Glossary -- consists of the most common library terms in 6 languages

I Love Languages Page -- multilingual, EFL, and ESL resources

University Resources

Information Technology Services (ITS) phone 442-3700.

Office for International Student & Scholar Services - Science Library G-40;   phone 591-8189.

UA Events Calendar

Writing Center - HU 140; phone   442-4061

« Back