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Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science

by Joan M. Reitz
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See: Open Archives Initiative.


See: Open Archival Information System.


Oak Knoll
A company located in New Castle, Delaware, that publishes, distributes, and sells books on bibliography, book collecting, book history, bookplates, the book trade, libraries, publishing, bookbinding, book design, book illustration, papermaking, typography, fine printing, forgery, and censorship. Its inventory includes over 12,500 antiquarian titles. Some of its editions are co-published with the British Library. Click here to learn more about Oak Knoll Books & Oak Knoll Press.


See: Open Book Alliance.


Obie Awards
Initiated by Edwin Fancher, publisher of The Village Voice, and Jerry Tallmer, journalist and theater critic, the Off-Broadway Theater Awards (Obies) were first given by The Village Voice in 1956 to New York City theatre artists and groups for outstanding performances in Off-Broadway venues. In 1964, the awards were expanded to include Off-Off-Broadway productions. There are no Obie nominations and no fixed categories except Lifetime Achievement and Best New American Play. Click here to learn more about the Obie Awards. Compare with Tony Awards.


Latin for "died," usually abbreviated ob. before a date to indicate the year of a person's decease (ob. 1922).


A brief note in a medieval manuscript recording the date of a person's decease, with or without comment, sometimes as a reminder to perform a Mass on the anniversary of the death. Found most frequently in liturgical calendars, obits can be helpful to codicologists in establishing provenance. Also used as an abbreviation of obituary.


A notice of a person's death, usually published in a newspaper or magazine, which may include a brief biographical sketch of the main events in the life of the deceased (see this example). Obituaries of well-known public figures may be researched and written long before death and kept on file in the morgue of a newspaper office, to be ready for printing on short notice. Obituaries are indexed under the last name of the deceased in Biography Index, a reference serial available in most large libraries in the United States. Click here to read the New York Times obituaries, and here to see the Yahoo! list of obituary Web sites. Abbreviated obit. Synonymous with death notice.


In AACR2, a three-dimensional artifact, replica of an artifact, or naturally occurring entity. In the British list of general material designations, the term also includes dioramas, games, microscope slides, models, and realia. See also: digital object.


A specific achievable outcome of actions taken to achieve a stated goal, usually expressed in measurable terms and subject to a time limit. Although an objective does not address the specific means by which the outcome is to be achieved, it should be based upon a realistic assessment of available resources. A good set of achievable objectives can serve as an inspiration and guide for an organization in planning for the future, allocating resources, evaluating progress, adjusting strategy, and persevering until the desired result is achieved.


A book wider than it is high. Click here to see a 19th-century cookbook oblong in shape (Cornell University Library). Children's picture books are often oblong in shape to allow the illustrator a wider canvas (click here to see a 19th-century example, courtesy of the British Library). In a more general sense, any publication bound on its shorter dimension. Synonymous in the printing trade with landscape. Compare with portrait. See also: narrow and square.


Speech, writing, or artistic expression considered indecent by conventional standards of behavior because it offends the modesty and delicacy of feeling of ordinary people. In Miller v. California (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that obscenity, as a judicially recognized exception to First Amendment protection, is to be defined within the context of local community standards. Synonymous with smut. Compare with pornography. See also: bowdlerize, censorship, expurgated, and unprintable.


obsolete format
A recording medium no longer manufactured and sold in the commercial market place, for which the appropriate playback or projection equipment may be difficult to locate. Examples in the audiovisual category include cylinder recordings, acetate and shellac discs, dictabelts, cellulose acetate audiotape, 1/2-inch Beta videotape, and certain gauges of motion picture film (9.5mm, 28mm, etc.). Preservation may require conversion to a different format. The term does not include historical formats still usable but no longer produced, such as clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, and parchment and vellum manuscripts.


See: order cancelled.


See: Open Content Alliance.


A document or publication issued on an irregular basis, sometimes numbered sequentially by the publisher (example: Occasional Publications in Archaeology and History of the Massachusetts Historical Commission).


occult fiction
A work of imaginative fiction in which the plot hinges on witchcraft, spiritualism, psychic phenomena, voodoo, or some other mysterious or secret knowledge or power believed to be attainable only by magic or supernatural means (example: Rosemary's Baby [1967] by Ira Levin).


See: Online Computer Library Center.


OCLC control number
Whenever the bibliographic utility OCLC enters a new record into its online union catalog (WorldCat), a unique number is assigned to the record for the purpose of bibliographic control. The number appears in the 001 field of the MARC record and is system-supplied. Compare with Library of Congress Control Number. See also: accession number.


OCLC Cooperative
A collective term that includes members of the Online Computer Library Center, the OCLC governance structure (Board of Trustees and Global and Regional Councils), and the non-profit OCLC corporation.


OCLC Four-Figure Cutter Tables
See: Cutter Table.


OCLC holding library code
A four-character code, unique within an OCLC symbol, identifying one location or collection within an institution. A library may choose any combination of codes, but each code must begin with an alphabetic character A-Z, and the last three characters must be A-Z or 2-9. The holding library code determines some OCLC profile options and is exported in local OCLC field 049.


OCLC member
A library or other cultural heritage institution that embraces the Online Computer Library Center's values of collaboration and sharing by contractually agreeing to contribute intellectual content to the WorldCat database or to share resources with other members. Each OCLC member is assigned a unique OCLC symbol for each of its constituent libraries, consisting of at least three alphanumeric characters. Click here to learn more about OCLC membership.


OCLC OnLine Union Catalog (OLUC)
The former name of WorldCat, an online union catalog containing over 50 million bibliographic records representing items held at over 6,700 libraries and other institutions that are members and participants in the Online Computer Library Center, the largest bibliographic utility in the world.


OCLC symbol
A unique code assigned by OCLC to identify a library or other institution that is a member of or participant in its cataloging, interlibrary loan, or reference systems (example: DLC for Library of Congress). OCLC symbols consisted of three characters until 2001 when five-character symbols began to be assigned to new institutions. Members with more than one library may have a different symbol for each library.

OCLC symbols are used in bibliographic records to indicate cataloging source (MARC field 040) and in holdings displays in the OCLC WorldCat database to identify libraries that have used a record for cataloging purposes. Symbols of interlibrary loan suppliers are displayed in uppercase, those of nonsuppliers in lowercase. OCLC publishes two alphabetically arranged print directories under the title OCLC Participating Institutions, one arranged by OCLC symbol and the other by name of institution. The list is also available online in searchable format, updated weekly at: www.oclc.org/contacts/libraries. See also: OCLC holding library code.


See: optical character recognition.


The first eight books of the Old Testament of the Bible (the Pentateuch plus the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth), sometimes produced as a separate manuscript by medieval scribes. See also: Hexateuch.


octavo (8vo)
A book approximately 7 x 10 inches in size, made by folding a full sheet of book paper in three right-angle folds, producing signatures of eight leaves (16 pages). If a 32-page section is desired, as in most children's picture books, double-size sheets are folded four times. The precise size of each leaf in an octavo edition depends on the size of the original sheet. In modern printing, octavo is the most commonly used size for books published in hardcover. Compare with folio, quarto, duodecimo, and sextodecimo.


See: opening day collection.


In printing, a section of pages shorter than the normal signature, printed separately to make up the full extent of the book (Dictionary of Publishing and Printing, 2006).


A relatively long lyric poem of elaborate structure derived from songs performed by the chorus in ancient Greek dramatic performances, written to eulogize a hero (or heroes). In English literature, the object of praise may be a person or category of person (example: Ode to the Confederate Dead by Allen Tate), an abstraction (Ode to Beauty by Ralph Waldo Emerson), or an inner state expressed symbolically (Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats). For more examples, see the Odes of Horace.


See: Oxford English Dictionary.


See: Office for Diversity.


Originally, a play, musical, or revue performed in New York City outside the geographical boundaries of the Broadway theatre district--later defined by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers as a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity of up to 500. Some Off-Broadway shows have eventually run on Broadway (example: Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim). See also: Obie Awards and Off-Off-Broadway.


Off-Broadway Theater Awards
See: Obie Awards.


Time when an employee is (1) scheduled but not working (usually on a break or lunch hour), (2) not scheduled on a shift, or (3) not working if employed part-time. Off-duty public services librarians are sometimes recognized as staff when passing through a public area of the library and approached by patrons in need of assistance. The opposite of on-duty.


Office for Diversity (OFD)
The executive office of the American Library Association (ALA) charged with serving as a key resource on professional issues related to diversity as a fundamental value and action area for the Association, the OFD serves as the liaison to the Committee on Diversity and its subcommittees and administers the Spectrum Initiative, a scholarship program designed to improve library service through the development of an ethnically diverse workforce. Click here to connect to the OFD homepage.


Office for Human Resources Development and Recruitment (HRDR)
The executive office of the American Library Association (ALA) charged with facilitating the development of librarianship as a profession by focusing on (1) education and professional development in support of the principle of lifelong learning, (2) recruitment of a diverse workforce, and (3) establishment of policies and practices in management and human resources that best serve the needs of libraries and their employees. Click here to connect to the HRDR homepage, which includes a section on Library Employment Resources.


Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)
The executive office of the American Library Association charged with helping to secure information technology policies that support efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic resources as a means of upholding the right of the American public to a free and open society. OITP works with the ALA's Office of Government Relations (OGR) and Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) to ensure a library voice in information policy debates and to promote full and equitable public participation by (1) conducting research and analysis aimed at understanding the implications of information technology and policies for libraries and library users; (2) educating the ALA community about the implications of information policy, law, and regulation; (3) advocating the information policy interests of the ALA in non-legislative government policy forums; and (4) engaging in strategic outlook to anticipate technological change, particularly as it affects libraries and library users. Click here to connect to the OITP homepage.


Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)
The executive office of the American Library Association charged with implementing ALA policies with respect to the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association�s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of OIF is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries, under the provisions of the First Amendment. Click here to connect to the OIF homepage.


Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS)
The executive office of the American Library Association (ALA) charged with supporting and promoting literacy and equity of information access initiatives for underserved populations, including new and nonreaders, people geographically isolated, persons with disabilities, the rural and urban poor, and those who are discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language, or social class. OSOL ensures that training, information resources, and technical assistance are available to help libraries and librarians develop effective literacy and outreach programs and services. Click here to connect to the OLOS homepage.


Office for Research and Statistics (ORS)
The executive office of the American Library Association charged with providing leadership and expert advice to the staff and members of the ALA and to the public on matters concerning research and statistics about libraries, librarians, and library-related topics and issues. ORS also represents the ALA to federal agencies on such issues and initiates projects to expand the field's knowledge base through research and the collection of useful statistics. Click here to connect to the ORS homepage. See also: Library Research Round Table.


Office of Government Relations (OGR)
The executive office of the American Library Association charged with following and influencing legislation, policy, and regulation concerning issues of importance to libraries and library users. In cooperation with the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), OGR seeks to involve libraries in legislative and policy-making processes by (1) informing government of the needs and concerns of the library community; (2) providing library supporters with current information concerning government proposals and actions; (3) building coalitions with Washington-based representatives of groups with similar concerns; and (4) developing grassroots networks to lobby legislators and further library interests. At the direction of the ALA's Committee on Legislation, OGR monitors a broad range of issues, including copyright, appropriations, government information, and telecommunications. Click here to connect to the OGR homepage.


office of record
The unit within an organization responsible for systematically documenting an activity and preserving the resulting records for the normal period for which they are needed to conduct business or affairs, for example, a personnel office in the case current employment records. Synonymous with agency of record.


official name
The legal name of a company, agency, organization, institution, etc., which may differ from the form of the name used in its publications or in cataloging them for a library collection. Compare with corporate name.


official publication
A document issued in multiple copies by an official body, such as a government agency or intergovernmental organization, under its legal name, often retained by libraries for reference purposes (example: Budget of the United States Government issued annually by the Office of Management and Budget). U.S. federal government documents fall into this category.


official records
The formal written documents in which the ongoing activities of a company, government, organization, or institution are recorded, usually retained in archives for their evidential, legal, informational, or historical value, in accordance with instructions contained in a disposition schedule (example: Congressional Record). See also: office of record.


official title
The full title appearing on the title page of a book or other printed publication, used by librarians in cataloging the item. See also: title proper and uniform title. Also refers to the formal title attached to a given position in an organization, for example, "Director of Library Services" rather than "Library Director."


An automated service not connected to a network, for example, a stand-alone PC running bibliographic databases on CD-ROM or an intranet not connected to the Internet. Also refers to computer accessories or devices not connected to or installed on the central processing unit (CPU) or physically connected but not turned on or standing ready for use, for example, a printer or scanner that is turned off. See also: nearline.

Also used as a slang expression for a person uninformed about something of which his (or her) associates are aware. Synonymous in this sense with out of the loop.


In computing, to transfer data to a peripheral device. Also used as a slang term for getting rid of a task or responsibility by passing it on to another.


Professional and amateur theatrical productions presented in small low-budget theaters (fewer than 100 seats), mostly located in lower Manhattan, which focus on new experimental and eclectic works--a movement that began in the late 1950s in reaction to the commercial theatre of Off-Broadway. The term has also been applied to out-of-town trial runs of a show, before it moves to Broadway. Synonymous with Indie theater. See also: Obie Awards.


A copy of an article, chapter, or portion of a publication reprinted from the same plates, usually at the same time as the original but issued separately, with or without a cover, usually for the author's personal use. Contributors to scholarly journals often receive a limited number of copies of their articles from the publisher, sometimes as a form of compensation. An offprint may or may not include a title page but retains the original pagination. The sale of offprints provides an important source of revenue for some journal publishers. Also spelled off-print. Synonymous with overprint, run-on, and separate. Compare with reprint.


A rotary printing process in which ink is applied to a thin plate wrapped around a rotating cylinder, which transfers the image to a second rubber-coated cylinder from which an impression is made on a sheet or roll of printing paper. Offset is faster, less expensive, and capable of printing much finer detail than letterpress.

Also refers to faint traces of ink unintentionally transferred from a freshly printed text page or illustration to the facing page, usually when a publication is bound before the ink has dried, a problem averted in some editions by inserting sheets of tissue between the leaves, a procedure called interleaving. Also refers to the image transferred. Synonymous with setoff.


off-site storage
Temporary or permanent storage of archival or library materials at a location outside the walls of the main facility, usually necessitated by a shortage of space (see this example). Stored materials may be temporarily unavailable or retrievable by courier upon request during certain hours. The most common criterion used in selecting items for off-site storage is low usage. Items may be shelved by a method that maximizes storage capacity, instead of in a classified arrangement. Synonymous with remote storage. See also: annex and auxiliary facility.


off the record
A statement or comment that the speaker does not wish recorded or made publicly known. At meetings, such remarks are not included in the minutes and may not be expressed if the proceedings are tape-recorded.


See: Office of Government Relations.


See: Oral History Association.


O. Henry Awards
A series of literary awards established in 1918 in recognition of the best in American and Canadian short story writing. Each year, 20 short stories from among the 2,500-3,000 published in approximately 240 American and Canadian print magazines are selected by a series editor at Anchor/Doubleday for publication in an annual O. Henry Awards collection. Anchor Books and the series editor also select a jury of three writers who choose the top three prize winners, after reading blind copies of the 20 stories. To be eligible, an author must live in the United States or Canada, or be a U.S. or Canadian national living abroad. An award is also given for the best magazine publishing fiction, based on the number of stories selected in the same year for the awards volume. Click here to learn more about the O. Henry Awards.


See: Office for Intellectual Freedom.


Because leather bindings dry out unless stored in a controlled environment, oil should be applied periodically to prevent deterioration. Former Yale University conservator Jane Greenfield recommends a dressing of 40 percent anhydrous lanolin and 60 percent neat's-foot oil (two natural animal oils), developed by the New York Public Library and tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (The Care of Fine Books, Nick Lyons Books, 1988). Oiling is done by grasping the book at the fore-edge and holding the boards away from the book block with the fingers while a thin coat of oil is rubbed by hand over the outside of the binding (not the turn-ins). Oil darkens leather and should not be used on fine bindings when color is an important design element. Vellum, tawed skin, and suede-type leathers should never be oiled. Over-oiling can damage the paper of a book and causes some leathers to become sticky. Oiling is not a remedy for the process of deterioration known as red rot.


See: Office for Information Technology Policy.


See: Online Audiovisual Catalogers, Inc.


older adult
An elderly person who may require special assistance in accessing and using the facilities, services, and collections of a library. Because the proportion of older adults is increasing in many communities across the United States, public libraries must focus more attention on providing outreach to seniors. Click here to read Guidelines for Library and Information Services to Older Adults developed by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association (ALA). Synonymous with senior. See also: Americans with Disabilities Act.


In sound recording, a single or record album once popular but no longer listed on charts that rank recordings by sales or frequency of airplay. The term "Golden Oldies" generally refers to popular music of the 1950s and 1960s, especially Doo-wop. The term "oldie" has also been applied to motion pictures produced before the 1960s, which were very popular when first released.


old map
A map produced at some time in the past, which no longer serves the purpose for which it was made, often because the information it contains is outdated, but which may be of artistic or historic interest. An old map that is rare may be of considerable value in the collector's market. Click here to see a rubbing taken from a stone tablet inscribed with a 4,000-year-old map of the provinces of China that paid tribute to Emperor Yu, founder in 2205 B.C. of the first legendary dynasty (Library of Congress). Synonymous with antique map. Compare with historical map. See also: mappa mundi.


A chromolithograph printed with oil paint on canvas or a similarly textured surface to imitate an oil painting. The process was used in the late 19th century to produce inexpensive reproductions of oil paintings. To see examples, try a search on the keyword "oleograph" in Google Images.


A type of writing material made in southern India and Sri Lanka from young leaves, especially of the palmyra palm, soaked in water and pressed flat, then cut into strips approximately three inches wide and one to three feet in length. Holes are made in one end of each strip through which they can be attached by a cord to wooden boards to form a book (click here to see an 18th-century example with lacquered covers). The mixture of charcoal and oil rubbed into writing incised in the leaf surface with a metal stylus may have helped preserve the earliest pre-Christian examples. According to Harrod's Librarians' Glossary (Gower, 1990), this type of book is still made by Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. The term also applies to documents of this form and material. Also spelled ola.


See: Office for Literacy and Outreach Services.


See: OCLC OnLine Union Catalog.


omnibus bill
A piece of proposed legislation that serves more than one purpose, packaging several measures into one or combining diverse items or particulars in a single bill. Appropriations are often handled in this manner. When passed, such legislation becomes an omnibus act.


omnibus book
A large single-volume reprint of two or more separately published novels or other literary works, usually by the same author (example: A Jeeves Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse). According to The Bookman's Glossary (Bowker, 1983), the term also applies to a single-volume collection of books or stories on the same subject, written by various authors (example: One Step in the Clouds: An Omnibus of Mountaineering Novels and Stories edited by Audrey Salkeld and Rosie Smith). In a more general sense, a volume of which the content is large and varied but usually related to a particular subject or subjects (The Management and Ethics Omnibus by S.K. Chakraborty).


omnibus reference
A cross-reference directing the user from a single heading to multiple headings in an index, as in the following example from the Library of Congress Subject Headings list:

Bibliographical cooperation see Bibliography, International; Cataloging, Cooperative; International cooperation; Union catalogs


omnibus review
An evaluative article in which a reviewer discusses and in some cases compares two or more books or other publications of a certain type, on a specific subject, in a particular field of study, or that have some other characteristic in common.


on approval
An arrangement with a publisher or jobber that allows a prospective buyer, such as a library, to examine newly published items before deciding to purchase. Materials sent for inspection must be returned within a designated period of time if the recipient does not intend to purchase. See also: approval plan.


on-demand publishing
Production by a commercial service of single copies or small quantities of rare, out of print, or difficult to find publications in response to orders from individual customers, as opposed to supply from inventory. An example of such a service is Dissertation Express from ProQuest, which provides photocopy reproductions of Ph.D. dissertations made to order from microform masters for a fixed fee. On-demand publishing is expected to grow, especially to meet sci-tech and business needs, as digital archives expand. Synonymous with demand publishing.


Time when an employee is expected to be at work, particularly the hours of a scheduled shift at a public service point, such as the circulation desk or reference desk. The opposite of off-duty.


one-act play
A form of modern drama in which all the action occurs in a single act (example: Aria da Capo by Edna St. Vincent Millay). Established as a literary form by the experimental theater movement that began in the late 19th century, the one-act play is usually short (20-50 minutes performed), with a limited number of characters, no breaks in the action, and little if any change of scene; analogous to the short story in narrative fiction.


one-of-a-kind book
A book created in a single copy, as opposed to a production book issued in multiple copies. Artist's books created for display are usually of this type (see this example by Sue Ann Robinson, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries). Compare with limited edition. See also: unique.


Services provided by a librarian or other library staff member working alone with a single patron, usually involving a high degree of interaction, as in most transactions at the reference desk. Synonymous with one-to-one.


one-person library (OPL)
A library or information service operated and managed by a single individual, usually with minimal assistance, more common in special libraries than in other types of libraries. In public library systems, small branch libraries are often run by a solo librarian or paraprofessional, sometimes with the help of volunteers from the community. Bookmobiles are nearly always operated by a single person.


A periodical for which only a single issue was published. Also refers to a reprint of the entire text of a book or of an abridgment, published in a single issue of a periodical, as distinct from a serialized reprint.

In perfect binding, the hot-melt adhesive used to bind a book in a single application. Also, a slang term used by instruction librarians to refer to formal library instruction given in a single session, as opposed to instruction extended over two or more sessions.


A very thin, tough, lightweight, translucent paper with a smooth glazed or cockle finish, used for airmail stationery, tracing paper, etc. Also spelled onion skin.


See: Online Information Exchange.


One or more panels or thin pieces of cut leather or paper, often of more than one color, mounted in relief on the cover of a book, usually forming a design, often with tooling around the edges to secure them to the surface (and for decorative effect). Click here to view an 18th-century example in leather (Special Collections, Glasgow University Library, Dw-d.13), here to see a 19th-century example in paper on cloth (British Library), and here to see a late-19th-century example in gilt leather (University of Miami, Florida). For 20th-century examples, see this binding by Paul Bonet in goatskin and calf (Morgan Library) and this example in blue morocco by Jean Gunner (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). For other examples, see Hand Bookbindings, courtesy of the Princeton University Library, or try a search on the keyword "onlaid" in the British Library's Database of Bookbindings. Compare with inlay.


A computer connected to the Internet, an intranet, or some other network via telecommunication links, as opposed to a stand-alone system. Also refers to computer accessories or devices physically separate from, but directly connected to and under the control of, a central processing unit (CPU) and ready for interactive use in real time. Sometimes used synonymously in libraries with automated, computerized, and electronic. Compare with offline. See also: online bookstore, online catalog, online services, and online tutorial.


A magazine providing feature articles, product reviews, case studies, and informed opinion to assist information professionals in selecting, using, and managing electronic information products, including online databases, CD-ROMs, and Internet resources, published bimonthly since 1977 by Information Today, Inc. ISSN: 0146-5422.


Online Audiovisual Catalogers, Inc. (OLAC)
Founded in 1980, OLAC is an international organization for catalogers concerned with all types of nonprint materials, including a wide range of digital resources, as well as more traditional formats, such as video and sound recordings, Web sites, maps, multimedia, graphic materials, and realia. OLAC became an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA) in 2008. Through conferences, workshops, publications, and its OLAC-L electronic discussion list, catalogers can exchange information and seek expert and practical advice about cataloging audiovisual resources. Click here to connect to the OLAC homepage.


online book club
A group of readers who select a book on a regular basis and exchange comments about it via an online mailing list or Web blog (example: BookTalk.org). The advantages are no set meeting times, relative anonymity, and accessibility to readers unable to travel. The disadvantages are lack of face-to-face interaction and slower communications. For more information, see the article "Online Book Clubbing Made Easy" by Neal Starkey in the September 2005 issue of American Libraries.


online bookstore
A commercial enterprise that markets and sells books and nonprint media (videos, CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs, etc.) electronically over the Internet, with payment by credit card (example: Amazon.com). BookSpot.com provides links to online bookstores. See also: Amazon.com.


online catalog
A library catalog consisting of a collection of bibliographic records in machine-readable format, maintained on a dedicated computer that provides uninterrupted interactive access via terminals or workstations in direct, continuous communication with the central computer. Although the software used in online catalogs is proprietary and not standardized, most online catalogs are searchable by author, title, subject heading, and keywords, and most public and academic libraries in the United States provide free public access, usually through a Web-based graphical user interface. Click here to log on to the online catalog of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Synonymous with OPAC.


Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
The largest bibliographic utility in the world, providing cataloging and acquisitions services, serials and circulation control, interlibrary loan support, and access to online databases. OCLC began as the Ohio College Library Center in 1967, changed its name in 1981 to reflect wider membership, and has since become a major source of cooperative cataloging data for libraries around the world. OCLC maintains WorldCat, the largest online bibliographic database in the world, containing over 50 million MARC records. Click here to connect to the OCLC homepage. See also: Auto-Graphics, Inc.


Online Information Exchange (ONIX)
A family of XML-based metadata schemes developed by publishers to communicate book trade information such as bibliographic data, pricing, and marketing and promotional information. Some library systems are developing the capacity to use ONIX data to enrich catalog records with tables of contents, author bios, dust jacket blurbs, and similar information. The standard is maintained by EDItEUR jointly with Book Industry Communication and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). ONIX for Serials is under development.


online mapping service
An interactive Web-based service designed to enable users to retrieve maps by entering search terms describing specific geographic locations. Examples include Google Maps, MapQuest, and Yahoo Maps. Online mapping services are also used to get driving directions, plan a route, check traffic conditions, and find local businesses. Google Maps includes the application My Maps allowing users, including libraries, to construct customized multimedia maps that can be embedded in personal homepages and library Web sites.


online media delivery
The provision by academic libraries of access to digitized nonprint course reserves, including images, audiofiles, and video. An early example was Indiana University's Variations online digital music project, initiated in 1996. The two main methods of providing online access to time-based media (audio and video) are streaming and downloading. Streaming requires a continuous network connection between the user and the server housing the media, and does not give the user a portable copy of the content. Downloading does not require a network connection during viewing or listening but may require digital rights management (DRM) to comply with copyright restrictions. As broadband connectivity improves and cost of delivery drops, more vendors are offering remotely hosted media subscriptions and purchasable digital files. For images, ARTstor is one of the best-known subscription services. Other examples include Classical Music Library, Naxos Music Library, and Films on Demand.


Online Programming for All Libraries (OPAL)
A collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide cooperative Web-based programming and training for library users and library staff from any location, using Web conferencing software (synchronized browsing, text chatting, Voice Over Internet Protocol, etc.). OPAL public online programs include book discussions, interviews, memoir writing workshops, virtual tours of selected digital library collections, special events, and library training. OPAL is administered by the Alliance Library System, the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center (MITBC), and the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service. Programs are free, with no registration required. The OPAL homepage provides access to a digital archive of past programs.


online public access catalog
See: OPAC.


online reference
See: digital reference.


online services
In libraries, the branch of public services concerned with selecting and providing access to electronic resources, such as online catalogs and bibliographic databases, including mediated searching, often handled by an online services librarian. Compare with systems librarian.


online tutorial
An instructional tool in electronic format, usually available via the Internet, designed to teach library users, in a step-by-step and sometimes interactive process, how to use a specific resource (usually an online catalog or bibliographic database), or all the services and resources needed to research topics in a specific discipline or subject area (see Learning Tools from Rutgers University Libraries or Call Numbers Explained from the SJSUKing Library in California). Particularly helpful to students enrolled in distance education courses who may be unable to come to the library for instruction, online tutorials are often modular in design, with a self-quiz at the end of each unit to give users the opportunity to assess their mastery of the content. Synonymous with Web-based tutorial. Compare with pathfinder.


OnLine Union Catalog (OLUC)
See: OCLC OnLine Union Catalog.


on loan
See: checked out.


on location
Shooting of a motion picture at one or more real sites, as distinct from shooting at a film studio or soundstage in specially constructed sets. The real site may or may not be the actual setting of the narrative. The cost of filming on location is often greater than filming in a studio, especially when the real site is privately owned.


on order
A term used in library acquisitions to describe an item ordered but not yet received from the vendor. Once the item is received and processed, the order record created by the library at the time the order was placed can be purged. In some online catalogs, the status of an item on order is displayed in a temporary catalog record. See also: back order and canceled.


on reserve
See: reserves.


on sale or return
Terms given by a publisher to a bookseller allowing the return for credit of copies that remain unsold. The bookseller's account is normally charged for the sale, but payment is not expected until the items have sold or a designated time limit has expired. See also: overstock and remainders.


Occurring in the course of one's employment, for example, on-the-job training as opposed to learning that takes place outside the normal work routine.


ooze leather
Calf or split sheepskin given a soft velvet or suede finish on the flesh side, used mainly for binding volumes of poetry, belles lettres, etc. Click here to see examples of gold and blind stamped ooze leather bindings.


See: out of print.


An acronym for online public access catalog, a database composed of bibliographic records describing the books and other materials owned by a library or library system, accessible via public terminals or workstations usually concentrated near the reference desk to make it easy for users to request the assistance of a trained reference librarian. Most online catalogs are searchable by author, title, subject, and keywords and allow users to print, download, or export records to an e-mail account. Compare with WebPac. See also: Machine-Readable Cataloging.


The quality of nontransparency in printing papers, determined by the amount of air space between the fibers, apparent from the extent to which light passes through a sheet. If too thin a paper is used in printing, text and/or illustrations may show through on the opposite side of the page. As a general rule, bright white papers are less opaque than off-white or creamy papers, and matte finish has greater opacity than glazed finish.

Also refers to the degree to which ink obscures the color of the surface on which it is printed.


See: Online Programming for All Libraries.


opaline photograph
A photographic print mounted under bevelled glass, to make it resemble an opalotype (see this example).


A type of early photograph, popular from the 1880s to the early 1900s, made on opaque white ("milky") glass, called opal glass, by one of two methods: transferring a carbon print onto glass or exposing a light-sensitive emulsion on the surface of the glass to a negative (see this example courtesy of the National Library of Australia). Also spelled opaltype. Compare with opaline photograph.


op. cit.
Latin for opere citato, meaning "in the work previously cited." An abbreviation used in notes and bibliographic citations that allows a quotation or idea from the work previously cited to be referenced simply by giving the new page number(s).


op-ed page
The page of a newspaper, usually opposite the editorial page, on which a variety of opinions are expressed concerning issues of the day, often written by syndicated columnists whose viewpoints may differ from the editorial position of the paper. Political cartoons are also printed on the op-ed page.


A binder's term for the ease with which the binding on a book can be opened at any page. In hardcover bindings, a volume with a hollow back can be opened more easily than one with a tight back. In adhesive bindings, an Otabind binding opens flat more easily than a perfect binding. In perfect bindings, an unnotched binding is easier to open than a notched binding. Most mechanical bindings are designed to open flat.


open access
Information content made freely and universally available via the Internet in easy to read format, usually because the publisher maintains online archives to which access is free or has deposited the information in a widely known open access repository. Open access is a new model of scholarly publishing developed to free researchers and libraries from the limitations imposed by excessive subscription price increases for peer-reviewed journals, particularly in the sciences and medicine. By breaking the monopoly of publishers over the distribution of scientific research, open access makes access to scientific information more equitable and has the added advantage of allowing the author to retain copyright. See also: Federal Research Public Access Act, open access journal, open access reference work, Open Archives Initiative, and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.


open access journal
A scholarly periodical that makes the full text of the articles it publishes universally and freely available via the Internet in easily read format, in some cases by depositing them immediately upon publication without embargo in at least one widely recognized open access repository. In this new model of scholarly communication, the costs of publication are recovered not from subscription fees, but from publication fees paid by authors out of their grant funds or from other sources. The first open access peer-reviewed journal, the monthly PLoS Biology, was first issued online in October 2003 by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians.

BioMed Central (BMC) is an example of an independent commercial publisher committed to providing immediate open access to peer-reviewed research. Its charter states that, "The author(s) or copyright owner(s) irrevocably grant(s) to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the research article in its entirety or in part, in any format or medium, provided that no substantive errors are introduced in the process, proper attribution of authorship and correct citation details are given, and that the bibliographic details are not changed." See the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (SOAN) for the latest developments on open access e-journals. A Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is provided by the Lund University Libraries. See also: Open Archives Initiative.


open access reference work
A reference work made freely and universally available via the Internet in easy to read format, as opposed to a work published in print or online by a for-profit publisher. A prime example is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), a project developed with grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), maintained collaboratively by philosophers with knowledge of Unix power-computing, Perl-CGI programming, HTML, and the Web.


open access repository
A digital archive created and maintained to provide universal and free access to information content in easily read electronic format as a means of facilitating research and scholarship. A prime example is PubMed Central (PMC), a project of National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, designed to provide open access to the journal literature of the life sciences. See also: open access journal and Open Archives Initiative.


Open Archival Information System (OAIS)
A reference model for digital archiving systems initially developed by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems and adopted by ISO as International Standard ISO 14721:2003. The OAIS model is widely used by libraries as a framework for the development of preservation archives for digital materials. See also: digital curation.


Open Archives Initiative (OAI)
An organization funded by the Digital Library Federation, the Coalition for Networked Information, and the National Science Foundation to develop and promote interoperability standards as a means of facilitating the exchange of digital information content. Its program originated in the desire to advance scholarly communication by improving access to distributed repositories of e-prints, known as "archives." The main product of the OAI is a framework for harvesting and aggregating metadata from multiple repositories and a harvesting protocol known as the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Click here to learn more about OAI. See also: open access and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.


open back
See: hollow back.


Open Book Alliance (OBA)
A group of library associations, nonprofit organizations, and commercial companies (including Amazon.com, Microsoft, and Yahoo!) who together filed, on antitrust grounds, an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the $125 million settlement reached in January 2010 in the class action suit by the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) against Google concerning that company's mass digitization project for books. Click here to see a list of OBA members and here to connect to the OBA homepage.


open catalog
A library catalog in which there are no restrictions on the addition of new bibliographic records, and existing records are revised and corrected as the need arises. Compare with closed catalog and frozen catalog.


Open Content Alliance (OCA)
In 2005, a consortium of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world announced a collaborative project to build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized texts and multimedia content, based on open access and open availability of the metadata, all of which will be harvestable. Unlike Google Books, OCA will scan and digitize only texts in the public domain and works for which the copyright holder has expressly given permission. According to American Libraries (November 2005), the content will be provided by the University of California, the University of Toronto, the National Archives of the UK, O'Reilly Media, and the European Archive. The nonprofit Internet Archive will host the digitized material, scanning technology will be provided by Hewlett-Packard, and Adobe Systems will supply licenses for the use of its Acrobat and Photoshop software. The Research Libraries Group (RLG) will supply the bibliographic information needed to aid in materials selection and description. The project also has the support of Yahoo! Click here to connect to the OCA homepage.


Said of a book left uncut in binding whose pages have been slit by hand with a paper-knife, usually by the person who purchases the volume or receives it as a gift. Compare with unopened.


open-end index
An ongoing index covering a single serial publication (example: New York Times Index), works of a particular form (Biography Index), or the published literature of a specific subject (Index Islamicus), academic discipline (Art Index), or group of related disciplines (MEDLINE), updated continuously or at fixed intervals. Compare with closed-end index.


open entry
A bibliographic record, holdings statement, or entry in an index or bibliography that allows further information concerning the item to be added, used in the library catalog to describe a serial publication for which the library does not own all the issues or parts. Open entries are indicated by a hyphen and a space following the first volume number and/or year owned (example: v.1- 1936- ). Compare with closed entry.


Any two facing pages in an open book or other printed publication. The right-hand page is called the recto; the left-hand page, the verso. Click here to see an opening in a copy of the The Canterbury Tales published by William Caxton in 1476-77 (British Library), and here to see an opening in a 15th-century miniature Book of Hours (Lilly Library, Indiana Unviersity. Compare with conjoint leaves. See also: double spread.

Also refers to the proper preparation of a new book for reading, accomplished by holding the book block perpendicular to a flat surface with the boards open flat, then using both hands to gently press down on the leaves along the gutters, starting with the outer leaves and working toward the center.

Also, the process of slicing open the uncut bolts of a book in order to read it, done by hand with a dull blade held parallel with the plane of the paper. A folio edition has no folds and therefore needs no opening; a quarto has folds at the head only; an octavo has folds at the head and fore-edge. To avoid damage, the motion of cutting should be away from the book.

In library operations, the procedures followed by staff at the beginning of each workday to ready the facility for use by its patrons, such as deactivating the security system, turning on lights and equipment, checking the paper supply in printers and photocopiers, checking the book drop for materials returned after the previous day's closing, unlocking the entrance door(s), etc.


opening day collection (ODC)
The stock of books and other materials available on the shelves of a new library on the day it first opens. When a fixed amount of funds is available for new acquisitions, an allocation formula is often used to achieve balance between adult and juvenile materials, print and nonprint, etc. Some book jobbers provide shelf-ready and catalog-ready opening day collections services based on profiling of community needs, with delivery scheduled to accommodate the library's construction (or renovation) timetable (click here and here to see examples). Some publishers offer a one-time discount on purchases for opening day collections.


open order
In acquisitions, an order for library materials that remains active because it could not be completely filled by the seller at the time it was placed, usually because one or more items are temporarily out of stock. Synonymous with outstanding order. See also: back order.


open peer review
In scholarly publishing, a method of peer review in which newly submitted journal articles are posted online so that scholars can volunteer their comments under their own names, without having been selected as anonymous reviewers by the prospective publisher. Some open review models encourage author-reviewer interaction. Synonymous with open-sourced refereeing.


open reserve
A reserve collection shelved in an open stack to afford library users unrestricted access. Compare with closed reserve.


open source
A computer program for which the source code is made available without charge by the owner or licenser, usually via the Internet, to encourage the rapid development of a more useful and bug-free product through open peer review. The practice also allows the product to be customized by its users to suit local needs (example: Linux operating system). To be certified "open source" under the Open Source Initiative (OSI), software must meet certain established criteria that include no restrictions on access.


open stacks
Shelving in a library to which users have unrestricted access. Synonymous with open access. The opposite of closed stacks.


Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)
An ISO standard for network telecommunication developed in the 1980s to allow direct communication between computers of all types and sizes by defining a general framework for implementing communication protocols in seven layers. Apart from the X.400 e-mail and X.500 directory standards, OSI was never widely implemented and is now useful mainly as a framework or teaching model for other protocols. See also: Z39.50.


open systems
Computer systems (hardware and/or software) designed to operate using standards that are publicly available, allowing competition among vendors based on the features and performance of their products, as opposed to systems that use proprietary standards developed and controlled by a single company. One important advantage of open systems is that anyone can design add-ons; however, by making specifications public, a manufacturer allows others to copy its product. Because UNIX was designed to run on more types of computers than any other operating system, it was synonymous with open systems for many years. Since the mid-1990s, Linux and Java have been the leading models for open systems/open standards.


open tear
A tear in a book or other printed publication which may have some material missing. Compare with closed tear.


A framework and format for communicating bibliographic information between applications over the Internet. The information provider assigns an OpenURL to an Internet resource, instead of a traditional URL. When the user clicks on a link to the resource, the OpenURL is sent to a context-sensitive link resolution system that resolves the OpenURL to an electronic copy of the resource appropriate for the user (and potentially to a set of services associated with the resource). The OpenURL shows promise of becoming an important tool in the interoperation of distributed digital library systems and has the potential to change the nature of linking on the Web.

The OpenURL was conceived at the University of Ghent by Herbert Van de Sompel and Patrick Hochstenbach, and by Oren Beit-Arie of the Ex Libris library automation company, who built a resolution system called SFX, now licensed to Ex Libris. SFX is being used by NISO to draft a U.S. national standard for OpenURL that will be compatible with other standards such as MARC 21, Dublin Core, Online Information Exchange (ONIX), and the Open Archives Initiative (OAI).


A dramatic performance (comedy or tragedy) of which vocal music is an essential part, consisting of an orchestral overture and arias, recitatives, and choruses with orchestral accompaniment, scenery, and costume, usually divided like a play into two or more acts (examples: The Magic Flute by Mozart and Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin). Also refers to a dramatic composition (libretto) or musical score written for such performance, and to the performance itself (see this example). In modern theater, the distinction between opera and musical is not clear-cut (example: West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim). An operetta is a romantic comic opera that includes songs and dancing, originally limited to a single act. Synonymous with grand opera. See also: operetta.


operating budget
Funds allocated, usually on an annual or biennial basis, to cover the ongoing expenses incurred in running a library or library system, including the payment of salaries and wages and the purchase of materials, equipment, supplies, and services. Compare with capital expenditure.


operating system (OS)
Software designed to control the basic operation of a computer and the exchange of data between the central processing unit and any peripheral equipment, mainly input and output devices. Loaded whenever the computer is started, the OS controls the running of all other programs, including any security systems designed to prevent unauthorized use. Commonly used PC operating systems include DOS, Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX. Click here to learn more about operating systems, courtesy of HowStuffWorks.


Said of equipment and/or systems that are running in good working order.


A management term encompassing all the activities and details involved in running a library or library system on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to functions requiring a long-range view of the institution's direction and priorities, such as planning and budgeting, policymaking, fund-raising, and public relations.


A short, amusing musical play, often satirical. Also, a genre of light opera in which music and subject matter generally are not serious, a precursor of today's musical comedy. The works of Johann Strauss, Jr., in German and of Gilbert and Sullivan in English are prime examples.


A statement, usually prepared in writing but sometimes delivered orally by a judge or court to announce the decision reached in a case argued or tried before them, giving a brief summary of the facts, expounding the law as it applies to the case, detailing the rationale on which the decision is based, and pronouncing judgment. A majority opinion, written by one of the judges, presents the principles of law deemed operative by a majority of the court. In common law, a majority opinion has more weight as precedent than a dissenting or minority opinion in which one or more judges disagree with the result and therefore with the reasoning and/or principles underlying the decision. A concurring opinion agrees with the result reached by the majority, but disagrees in at least one particular with the rationale leading to it. A separate opinion may be written by one or more judges who concur or dissent from the majority opinion. A plurality opinion is agreed to by less than a majority as to rationale, but by a majority as to result. Not all court opinions are released for publication but when they are, they are collected in law books called court reporters. In the United States, each state has at least one reporter in which the opinions of its courts are published; the federal courts have several.

A prescribed format exists for the publication of court opinions in reporters. At the top of each page, the name of the reporter appears, preceded by the volume number, and in the upper outside corner of the page is printed the page number. The volume number, reporter name, and page number constitute the citation used in reference to the opinion and as a means of locating it. The name of the reporter may be abbreviated in the citation, for example, 101 Cal. Rptr. 500 for an opinion appearing at page 500 in volume 101 of the California Reporter. The elements of an opinion are arranged as follows:

1. Title of the action, identifying the parties and their roles in the action (plaintiff and defendant or appellant and respondent)
2. Docket or calendar number assigned by the court
3. Name of the court delivering the opinion and date of the decision
4. Summary of the facts and the decision (supplied by publisher of reporter)
5. Headnotes classifying the points of law applied by the court (supplied by publisher)
6. Syllabus summarizing the case (usually written by the court reporter)
7. Names of the attorneys representing the parties
8. Text of the opinion, opening with the name of the judge who wrote it


A papyrus or parchment manuscript in the form of a roll, bearing writing on both sides. Normally only the inside of a papyrus roll, the side with fibers running horizontally, was used as a writing surface. In some cases, a second text may have been added on the other side when the primary text was no longer of interest to the owner or user. Also refers to a stone slab inscribed on both sides.


See: one-person library.


See: out of print at present.


See: out of print, searching.


optical center
In printing, the point slightly above the mathematical center of a page that the human eye perceives as the center. In page layout, the typographer fools the eye by designing around the optical center, rather than the mathematical center. The same rule applies in Web page design for computer screens.


optical character recognition (OCR)
A process by which characters typed or printed on a page are electronically scanned, analyzed, and if found recognizable on the basis of appearance, converted into a digital character code capable of being processed by a computer. OCR eliminates the time-consuming process of re-keying information produced in print, but results can be unpredictable if the scanned copy is imperfect or contains diacritical marks or unrecognizable characters. Compare with intelligent character recognition (ICR).


optical disk
A high-density direct access storage medium consisting of a specially coated disk on which data is encoded in a pattern of tiny pits burned into the surface with a laser, to be read by a device that reflects a laser beam off the pitted surface, then decoded by a microprocessor into digital signals. Optical disks can be read-only (audio CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, photo CDs, videodiscs), write once (WORM disks), or rewritable. They have far greater storage capacity than magnetic disks and are more robust. To learn more about optical disks, see How CDs Work, courtesy of HowStuffWorks. Also spelled optical disc. Synonymous with laser disk.


optical fiber
A thin, flexible cable containing a bundle of very fine, highly transparent, tubular glass fibers made of pure silicon dioxide, designed to transmit information encoded in pulses of laser light at very high speed (billions of bits per second) by means of internal reflection (see this example). Telephone companies are rapidly upgrading their transmission infrastructure from copper wire to fiber-optic cable. The advantages of optical fiber over coaxial and twisted-pair cable are high bandwidths, less attenuation of signal, and lighter weight, making it possible to transmit data in digital format at very high speed from one computer to another over a network such as the Internet.


optical printing
A laboratory process in which a combination camera and projector is used to duplicate motion picture film by projecting the image frame by frame onto raw stock or previously exposed film, a method often used to produce prints in a different film format from the original and to create special effects. Compare with contact printing.


optical scanner
See: scanner.


optical sound track
See: sound track.


optical spacing
In typesetting, the technique of adjusting the distance between the individual letters in a line of capitals to create the optical illusion of even spacing, which requires placing some letter combinations closer together than others.


The privilege of purchasing the rights in a book or manuscript from the copyright holder for a specific purpose (example: the right to adapt a novel or short story for performance on stage or screen), usually granted for a fixed period of time designated in a legally binding agreement, in exchange for some form of compensation. See also: subsidiary rights.

In computing, a choice available to the user in the form of a menu item, button, or icon appearing in the toolbar or window of a graphical user interface or as a link embedded in a Web page.

In Dewey Decimal Classification, an alternative to the standard notation provided in the schedules and tables that places special emphasis on an aspect in a library's collection not given preferred treatment in the standard notation and in some cases providing a shorter notation for the aspect (adapted from DDC).


A field or subfield of the MARC record in which data may be entered at the discretion of the cataloger but is not required to meet OCLC input standards for a given cataloging level. Compare with mandatory and required if applicable and readily available.

In AACR2, a unit of data that may be added at the cataloger's discretion to the bibliographic description of an item but is not required, for example, the name of the releasing agent in the publication, distribution, etc., area of the bibliographic record representing a motion picture.


optional number
In Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), a class number listed in parentheses in the schedules or tables that is an alternative to the standard notation for the class. Also, a class number created by following an option in the schedules or tables.


Latin for "a work." In the most general sense, any creative work or composition. In music, the term is usually followed by an opus number assigned by the composer or publisher to one of several works, or a collection of works related in form or medium, to indicate its place in the sequence in which they were composed or issued. Abbreviated op. Plural: opera or opuses. See also: magnum opus and opuscule.


A book or treatise of small size. Also refers to a musical work or literary composition of little significance. Compare in this sense with magnum opus. See also: opus.


opus number
A number assigned by the composer or publisher to one of several musical works, or a set of works related in form or medium, to indicate its place in the sequence in which they were composed or issued, usually included in the title following the abbreviation op. (example: Beethoven's Concerto for Violin, op. 61, D major). Special numbering exists for certain composers whose works were unnumbered when first published, for example, the universally accepted Köchel numbers devised by the 19th-century Austrian botanist Ludwig von Köchel in his chronological thematic catalog of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


See: logical sum.


oral history
A sound recording or transcription of a planned interview with a person whose memories and perceptions of historical events are to be preserved as an aural record for future generations. Also refers to a historical work (published or unpublished) based on data collected orally, often retained in the archives and special collections of large libraries (example: Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel). To learn more about oral history, see Oral History Online or try the Yahoo! list of Web sites on the subject. See also: Oral History Association.


Oral History Association (OHA)
Established in 1966, OHA seeks to bring together individuals with an interest in oral history as a way of collecting and preserving human memory. International in its membership, OHA serves a broad and diverse audience, including local historians, librarians and archivists, students, journalists, teachers, and scholars from diverse fields. Archivists and special collections staff often have the responsibility of creating and preserving oral histories. The OHA awards program recognizes outstanding achievement in the categories of publications, nonprint media productions, teaching , and oral history projects. The OHA Web site provides basic guidelines and standards for conducting oral histories, as well as links to other oral history sites.


orchestral score
The full score of a musical work composed for orchestra, giving the parts for all the instruments (see this example).


order canceled (OC)
A term used on an invoice to indicate that the order for a book or other item has been canceled by the seller, usually because copies are no longer available. Compare with back order. See also: out of print.


order form
A preprinted card or sheet sent by a publisher or vendor with a promotional mailing, as an insert in a periodical, or as part of a trade catalog, providing blank spaces for the customer to fill in the names or titles of items to be ordered. In online sales (e-commerce), the order form is often called a "shopping cart." Most libraries use a purchase order when ordering materials.


order of precedence
See: preference order.


order of preference
See: preference order.


order record
In acquisitions, a record created and associated with the bibliographic record for an item at the time it is ordered, containing information needed to process the order (name of selector, budgetary fund, vendor, order date, estimated price, purchase order number, date received, special handling notes, date cataloged, and pertinent characteristics of the item). After the item is received and processed, the order record is eventually purged. Compare with item record.


A term that applies to two types of liturgical books used in services of the Catholic Church: (1) a guide setting forth the order in which the liturgy is to be celebrated, including instructions for the clergy concerning the performance of liturgical actions, and (2) a book giving the rules and form of service to be followed in the ordination of a deacon or priest, the consecration of a bishop, or the coronation of a king. Click here to view an illuminated miniature from the Coronation Ordinal of 1250 showing the coronation of a French king in the cathedral of Rheims (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Lat. 1246).


organizational culture
The prevailing values, expectations, and conventions within an organization or institution, often unspoken and persistent. Advancement may depend on sensitivity to such norms.


organization code
A standardized variable-length code of no more than eight characters, generally consisting of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters of the English alphabet, with or without the dash, used to represent the name of a library or other organization requiring identification in the MARC bibliographic environment. Developed by the Library of Congress for use in the National Union Catalog (NUC) and other union list publications containing holdings for reporting institutions, the codes are composed of 1-4 subunits. In the example CtStrB, Ct indicates the state or territory (Connecticut), Str indicates the geographic entity (town of Stratford), and B represents the name of the institution (Bibliomation, Inc.). A fourth subunit may be added, usually following the dash, to identify a subdivision of a larger organization (example: OCoLC-D for the Dewey Decimal Classification Division of OCLC). Case is ignored in sorting and in determining uniqueness. Click here to learn more about the MARC organization codes and to search the MARC organization code database. British spelling: organisation code.


An indication of direction on a map or chart, or with reference to the points of a compass in the field, north being the prime reference direction relative to the earth. To express direction as an angular unit of measurement, a base line must be established from a starting point to a point of reference. A line extending from any point on the surface of the earth to the geographic north pole indicates true north, usually represented on a map or chart by a star-shaped symbol. All lines of longitude are true north lines. Direction to the north magnetic pole (magnetic north) is usually indicated by a line ending in one half of an arrowhead, symbolizing the pointer on a compass. Grid north, established by the vertical grid lines on the face of a map, is symbolized by the letters GN or the letter "y" for one of a pair of x, y coordinates. Grid north is coincident with true north only at the meridian of origin (prime meridian). The orientation of modern maps and charts is based on geographic north because it remains constant over time. See also: compass rose, declination, and north pointer.

In printing, the direction of a page, either landscape or portrait. Also refers to information or training necessary to understand a new subject, job, activity, or situation.


The place in which a manuscript was produced, seldom recorded unless mentioned in the colophon. Codicologists must determine origin by carefully studying the volume's contents, patronage, methods of production, and provenance. According to the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, the "use" of a liturgical manuscript is not necessarily evidence of its geographic origin, since eventually the major uses came to be widely distributed.


In literature, a work as written by the author or in the author's own words. In art, a finished work as completed by the artist and ready for reproduction. In science, a study that produces results never before reported, in some cases through the use of a new methodology or research design. In reprography, the source document from which the first copy is made or in some cases the first copy itself. In a more general sense, something new and fresh, not copied or based on a pre-existing model. Abbreviated orig. Compare with copy.


original binding
A term used in the antiquarian book trade to indicate that a book retains the binding in which it was first issued, which may show definite signs of wear if the volume is an old one (click here to see a 14th-century example in cowhide and deerskin, courtesy of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek). Synonymous with primary binding. Compare with contemporary binding. See also: rebinding.


original cataloging
Preparation of a bibliographic record from scratch, without the aid of a pre-existing catalog record for the same edition, more time-consuming for the cataloger than copy cataloging.


original format
The physical form in which a bibliographic item is originally issued or created, as opposed to the form produced by a process of conversion (reformatting). The following considerations in the retention of items in original format are recommended by the Preservation Committee of the Research Libraries Group (RLG): evidential value, age, scarcity, association value, aesthetic value, importance in printing history, exhibit value, monetary value, and physical features of interest.


original language
The language in which a work is first written or produced, as distinct from the language in which it is translated. In library cataloging, the original language of a translation is entered in the 765 field of the MARC record. In the bibliographic description, the note Translation of: is followed by the title in the original language or a transliteration of it.


original order
The principle in archives that records should remain in the sequence in which they were maintained when in active use, unless the method of accumulation is determined upon inspection to have been so unsystematic as to render retrieval difficult, if not impossible. Existing relationships are preserved when documents remain as originally arranged, making it easier to prepare finding aids. Original order also has evidential value. See also: respect des fonds.


original parts
A descriptive term used in library cataloging to indicate that a copy of a work first issued in installments has survived in its original form without having been rebound.


A manuscript or printed document in the form of a continuous length of papyrus, vellum, or paper, folded backwards and forwards accordion-style between the columns of text to divide the work into pages, which are usually fastened with a cord threaded through holes pierced in the back fold, with or without laced-on covers. Click here to see an example. Compare with zig-zag book.


See: printer's ornament and tooling.


In printing, an incomplete line of type, such as a heading or the first line of a paragraph, when it appears at the foot of a page or column of text. Skilled typographers consider such lines awkward and avoid setting them if possible, just as they avoid setting widows. Compare with club line.

In indexing, a descriptor or subject heading that has no relation, hierarchic or associative, to any other term in the indexing language (example: Chank, the Library of Congress subject heading for a type of seashell used in Indian folklore and religion). Orphans are rare in indexing. See also: sibling.


orphan film
Narrowly defined, a motion picture abandoned by its creator, owner, or caretaker, or lacking the commercial potential to assure preservation. Broadly speaking, a film outside the commercial mainstream, including public domain materials, industrial and educational films, newsreels, independent documentaries, scientific and ethnographic films, experimental films, silent-era productions, amateur works, and films of small or unusual gauge. The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), a charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) of the Library of Congress, awards federally funded grants to archives for the preservation of historically, culturally, or aesthetically significant orphan films. Click here to learn more about orphan films.


orphan work
An out of print work protected by copyright, for which the current copyright holder is unknown or cannot be located or contacted. The question of who owns the rights to orphan works has been a major bone of contention in litigation over the Google Books settlement. Libraries creating digital repositories also face the daunting challenge of identifying orphan works if they are to make them freely available online. Click here to learn about the Orphan Works Project at the University of Michgan Library.


See: Office for Research and Statistics.


Correct spelling of a written language, usually given in a standard dictionary. British spelling differs slightly from American spelling of certain words (cataloguing/cataloging, grey/gray, palaeography/paleography, theatre/theater, etc.). Also refers to any style or method of spelling and to the study of spelling and its conventions.


An aerial photograph of uniform scale on which horizontal distance can be accurately measured, the central perspective of the original conventional photograph having been converted to an orthogonal projection by a process of rectification, which removes displacement and distortions, giving the image the spatial attributes of a map. To see examples, try a keyword search on the term "orthphotograph" in Google Images or log on to the National Digital Orthophoto Program (NDOP) of the U.S. Geological Survey. When several orthophotos of uniform scale are combined to create a continuous image of a larger area, the result is an orthophoto mosaic. See also: digital orthophotograph and digital orthophoto quadrangle.


See: operating system and out of stock.


See: Academy Award.


See: Open Systems Interconnection.


An abbreviation of open source software. See: open source.


A potsherd on which something is written or inscribed, used in Antiquity for voting and making notes (see this example). In 5th-century Athens, ostraka were used by citizens to cast votes in favor of banishing ("ostracising") an individual from the city for a period of ten years, usually for political reasons (click here to see an example with the name "Aristeides" written on it). The term is also used by archaeologists for pottery fragments found in Egypt and other parts of the Near East bearing small drawings and/or hieroglyphs, probably used by scribes and craftsmen for making notes (see this example, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Plural: ostraka. Also spelled ostracon.


The trade name for a relatively new type of adhesive binding that opens flat without any resistance and has the internal characteristics of a binding sewn through the fold. Two different cold emulsion polyvinyl acetate (PVA) adhesives are applied separately to the binding edge, providing maximum strength and flexibility when allowed to dry naturally. The cover is attached with hot-melt adhesive, not to the spine but to the sides of the text block, leaving a hollow back. Click here to see examples of Otabind, courtesy of Buchbinderei Grollimund AG.

The hot-melt adhesives used in perfect binding have a clamping effect that hampers openability. They also have low cold-crack resistance, which makes them unsuitable for use in countries that experience extreme winter temperatures. The impetus for the development of an enhanced adhesive binding came from the Finnish publisher Otava. Otabind International was founded in 1986 by the Dutch binder Gerard Hexspoor in cooperation with Muller Martini, a Swiss manufacturer of binding equipment. The method was introduced in the United States and Canada in 1988 and is especially suitable for volumes that must open flat (instruction manuals, music books, textbooks, travel guides, cookbooks, etc.). Its durability is several times that of conventional perfect binding.


other title information
In AACR2, a title found on a bibliographic item, other than the title proper or parallel or series title(s). Also, any phrase appearing in conjunction with the title proper, usually indicating the contents or character of the item or explaining the motives for or occasion of its production or publication. The term includes subtitles, alternative titles, etc., but not variations on the title proper (half titles, spine titles, etc.). In the bibliographic record, other title information is transcribed following the whole or part of the title proper or parallel title to which it pertains. If the information is lengthy, it may be given in a note or abridged.


Manuscripts produced during the reign of the Saxon Liudolfing dynasty of the Eastern Franks (from 919 to about 1050 A.D.), successor to the Carolingian dynasty and founding dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, whose second king was Otto I. Most are magnificently decorated liturgical works. Influenced by Roman classical and Byzantine art, the Ottonian style of manuscript illumination is characterized by liberal use of gold, purple vellum, iconic imagery, and emphasis on patronage. Click here to page through an 11th-century Ottonian sacramentary (Getty Museum, MS Ludwig V 2).


In printing, copy accidentally omitted from a text in typesetting. When a bookseller or retail purchaser discovers a defect of this kind, the publisher will normally send a replacement copy at no charge. See also: imperfections.


outcomes assessment
The systematic, quantitative measurement of the extent to which a library's programs and services actually change the behavior of library users with respect to the library's stated goals and objectives, for example, the degree to which a formal information literacy program improves the research skills of the students receiving instruction. Assessment of learning outcomes is accomplished through testing (pre- and post-), surveys, interviews, and evaluation of the results of student research (bibliographies, term papers, porfolios, etc.). For more information on this topic, see Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment, courtesy of North Carolina State University. Available Resources by Amy E. Mark in the May 2004 issue of C&RL News.


Information that is no longer current. Publications containing such information may be misleading, for example, a superseded edition of a manual of medical diagnosis or prescription drugs. Loose-leaf services are designed to facilitate updating. Books are usually updated in supplements and revised editions. Resources available online may be updated continuously.


A sum of money spent, especially in the initial phase of a project, on the expectation that the investment will eventually produce a tangible or intangible return or some other desired result. Public relations expenditures usually fall into this category.


A popular treatment of an extensive subject (example: The Outline of History by H.G. Wells). Also refers to a summary of the main aspects of a topic or a systematic list of the most important points of a speech or written work, often with indention used to indicate logical subordination.

Also refers to a line or thin edge drawn around a picture or image, as a form of decoration or to establish its visual limits. See also: outline letter and outline map.


outline drawing
A style of medieval manuscript illumination in which the outlines of a figure or scene are drawn in detail in black and/or colored ink. The technique was sometimes combined with tinted or fully painted design elements. Examples can be seen in The Life of King Edward the Confessor (Cambridge University Library, Ee.3.59) and in this zoomorphic initial, courtesy of the British Library (Royal 1 B XI).


outline letter
A letter printed from a unit of type from which the inside of each stroke has been removed, leaving a black line around the edges enclosing white space in the interior (see this example). Synonymous with open letter. Compare with inline. See also: shaded letter.


outline map
A map providing the minimum amount of geographic information necessary to allow the correlation of additional data displayed on it, for example, a map showing political or administrative boundaries. Click here to see a collection of outline maps showing the counties of the 50 states, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau. A blank outline map has no additional data placed on it (see this example courtesy of About.com). Click here to find examples by country, courtesy of TravelNotes.org, or try the list of Outline Map Sites provided by the Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection. See also: index map.


out of circulation
Not available to be checked out or used for reference, for example, library materials in the process of being mended, repaired, rebound, recataloged, etc. The opposite of in circulation. Compare with noncirculating.


out of print (OP)
A publication no longer obtainable through regular market channels because the publisher's inventory is exhausted, with no prospect of another printing in the foreseeable future. A book goes out of print when the publisher decides sales no longer justify the expense of maintaining inventory, when it is superseded by a later edition, or when the rights are relinquished by the publisher.

An OP title can sometimes be located in a used bookstores. Search services, antiquarian booksellers, and book scouts specialize in tracking down out of print editions (examples: Abebooks and Alibris). An out of print book may eventually be reissued (the review publication Library Journal includes a "Classic Returns" section devoted to recent reprints). Books that have gone out of print since 1979 are indexed in Books Out-of-Print published by Bowker, which includes information on remainder dealers and on-demand publishers. Also spelled out-of-print. Also abbreviated o.p. Compare with out of print at present, out of stock, and temporarily out of print.


out of print at present (OPP)
A term used on a publisher's invoice to indicate that a publication cannot be supplied because current inventory is exhausted but additional copies may be printed at some unspecified time in the future. Compare with out of print and temporarily out of print.


out of print, searching (OPS)
A term used on an invoice to indicate that a publication is no longer available from the publisher but the seller is attempting to fulfill the order through other channels.


out of register
Two printing plates or screens imperfectly aligned, producing a blurred or double image.


out of series
The unnumbered copies of a book, printed in excess of the number specified by the publisher for a limited edition, usually bound as overs, for use in promotion and for distribution as review copies. Out of series copies are usually not signed by the author unless they are used as complimentary copies. Also spelled out-of-series.


out of square
In printing and bookbinding, not cut at right angles.


out of stock (OS)
A term used on a publisher's invoice to indicate that a publication cannot be supplied at the time the order is received because it is not in inventory. Also abbreviated o.s. The opposite of in stock. Compare with out of print. See also: temporarily out of stock.


The end result of processing by a computer, as opposed to data entered into or transferred to a computer system for processing (input). Output may be sent to a peripheral device for storage or display. Also refers to the signal that emanates from a video or audio player, as opposed to the signal fed into it.

Also, the total amount of work produced by a person, team, organization, machine, etc., usually during a fixed period of time (hour, day, week, or month), for example, the number of items cataloged by the technical services department of a library in a given amount of time.


output measure
A quantitative standard for determining the amount of work accomplished in a library or library program, usually over a given period of time, used for comparison and evaluation of performance. For example, one of the output measures recommended by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in its Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (October 2011) is "interlibrary loan/document delivery turnaround time, fill rate, and unit cost." Compare with input measure.


Library programs and services designed to meet the information needs of users who are unserved or underserved, for example, those who are visually impaired, homebound, institutionalized, not fluent in the national language, illiterate, or marginalized in some other way (see this example). Large public libraries often have an outreach librarian who is responsible for providing such services. Compare with library extension. See also: Americans with Disabilities Act and Office for Literacy and Outreach Services.


outright sale
Transfer of a copyright by an author to a publisher in exchange for a lump sum, without constraints, stipulations, or entitlement to additional payments, such as royalties.


The contracting of library services formerly performed in-house to an outside service provider, usually a for-profit enterprise. Part of a recent trend in the United States in the direction of privatizing government services, outsourcing has affected technical services to a greater extent than public services in libraries. Cost-effectiveness is the justification most often heard for this controversial management practice. One disadvantage is that in decisions requiring judgment an outside contractor may lack familiarity with local conditions and practices.

Outsourcing has generated the least amount of controversy in conservation and preservation (particularly binding and reformatting), purchasing catalog records in machine-readable form, acquisitions plans (approval plans, blanket order plans, subscription services, etc.), physical processing, retrospective conversion, and library automation systems. However, proposals to outsource cataloging and selection and to privatize federal and public libraries have met greater resistance.


A term used in cataloging moving images to refer to footage shot for a longer work that is not used in the final cut. Often used in the plural (outtakes) to refer to all the footage not used in a completed film. In a broader sense, film or tape rejected in the process of editing a motion picture or a work recorded on videotape or audiotape. Also spelled out-take.


A government document assigned a security classification by an agency of the U.S. government, which is more stringent than necessary to protect the national interest, making it difficult or impossible for members of the public to gain access to its content. See also: reclassification and sensitive but unclassified.


A recording technique in which supplementary sound is added in the studio to previously recorded music, for example, to allow vocalists to sing harmony with themselves, create a choral effect, or add their own instrumental accompaniment. The practice began in the late 1920s when RCA Victor added studio orchestra accompaniment to early recordings of singer Enrico Caruso, originally made with piano accompaniment only.


A circulating item checked out from a library and kept by the borrower past its due date. Most circulation systems are designed to automatically generate an overdue notice requesting prompt return of the item. Many libraries in the United States charge fines for overdue materials. A borrower account may be blocked if fines accumulate beyond a maximum amount determined by the library. Accounts long overdue may be sent to a collection agency. Overdue charges can be avoided by renewing the item on or before its due date. See also: grace period.


overdue notice
A printed or handwritten notice sent to a borrower's street address requesting the prompt return of items kept past their due date. The first overdue notice may be followed by a second notice, then a final notice, depending on the policy of the individual library or library system. See also: fines and renew.


Detail on the face of a map or chart that extends beyond the neat line, allowing the area mapped to be shown at a slightly larger scale than would be possible if all the detail was confined within the neat line. The amount of overedge detail can be slight, as on this early chart of the northern coast of America; moderate, as on this 18th-century map of the Pacific Ocean (National Maritime Museum); or considerable, as on this 19th-century map of Costa Rica (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection). See also: map continuation.


In photography, exposure of film to light for too long a time, producing an image that is too pale, sometimes used for artistic effect (see this example).


In bookbinding, the portion of covering material that extends beyond the edges of the boards before it is turned in and the endpapers pasted down (see this diagram).


overhead projector
A tabletop platform device used in presentations and library instruction to project clear transparencies onto a wall screen or other flat, light-colored surface (see this example). Document cameras are superseding overhead projectors in well-equipped library instruction classrooms and labs.


overhead transparency
See: transparency.


overland journal
A narrative account, usually recorded on a regular basis, of events, experiences, and observations during a journey via an overland route, especially to the American West in the 19th century (see this example).


A sheet of transparent or translucent material bearing text and/or images aligned in such a way that the appearance of any matter on which it is superimposed is altered, for example, the transparent sheets used in some medical textbooks and encyclopedias to illustrate the various components of human anatomy (skeleton, internal organs, circulatory system, nervous system, etc.). In cartography, information drawn or printed on a transparent or translucent medium, adding detail or giving special emphasis to base material when superimposed in register on a map or chart. Compare with transparency.


On the other side of the leaf, a term used in captions to refer to full-page illustration on the reverse side of the same leaf.


In manuscript painting, the application of pigment over the surface of a preliminary drawing or underpainting. In medieval manuscripts, illuminators typically sketched a design in metal point, then reworked the underdrawing in greater detail in ink before applying metallic leaf and then pigment.


To print over matter that has already been printed, sometimes in a space or box left blank for the purpose. Also refers to the printing of more copies of a work than are ordered or needed by the publisher. Unsold copies may be remaindered. In multicolor printing, the technique of applying ink to the same image in successive layers, each of a different color, to achieve color combinations (see this example). See also: process color.

In cartography, the printing of additional or revised information on a previously printed map, chart, or aerial photograph, often for a special use and in a distinctive color or colors, often red, purple, and/or blue (see this example). Synonymous with surprint. Compare with overwrite.


Sheets or copies of a publication printed in excess of the quantity ordered by the publisher to allow for normal spoilage in printing and binding and for distribution as presentation and review copies. Synonymous with overs. The opposite of underrun. See also: out of series.


See: overrrun.


A method of extra-strength binding in which the back folds are removed from the sections by milling and the resulting leaves sewn through the back margin in thin groups, one to another in succession, with the needle held perpendicular to the paper surface in hand sewing or positioned at an oblique angle in machine sewing. Oversewing is also used in some fold sewn bindings to reinforce the first and last sections. The swell added by oversewing may limit a volume's openability.


A book or other item too tall or too wide to be shelved in normal call number sequence with volumes of smaller size, for example, large art books and atlases. Libraries often shelve oversize materials in a separate location, indicated by a special code or location symbol displayed in the catalog record and on the spine label (see this example).

One of the world's largest books is Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom (Friendly Planet: 2004) by Michael Hawley. Containing photographic images of the small Asian country's landscape and culture, it measures 5 feet by 7 feet when open and weighs 133 pounds. A copy is owned by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.


Having more than enough employees to accomplish the necessary work, a situation that is usually remedied by reassigning staff to other duties and responsibilities or in extreme cases by laying off personnel. The opposite of understaffed.


Excess quantities of a book or other item held in stock for which demand has dropped to a low level or ceased, usually the result of overestimating the sales potential of the work or a returns policy that encourages booksellers to overorder to secure a more favorable discount. To avoid paying tax on inventory, the publisher may dispose of overstock by remaindering. Compare with out of stock. See also: on sale or return.

Also refers to materials held in excess of what is needed to serve the information needs of a library's clientele. Duplicate copies may be disposed of in a book sale. See also: weeding.


over the transom
An unsolicited manuscript or book proposal received by a publisher without prior notification, usually directly from the author without the assistance of a literary agent. Publishers generally consign such submissions to a slushpile. Very few receive more than a rejection slip, but occasionally a work of exceptional quality is submitted in this way, launching a successful writing career.


Time worked in excess of the maximum number of regular hours per day, week, or month specified under the terms of employment, for which an employee is normally compensated at a higher rate. Libraries pay their staff overtime only under very exceptional circumstances. Compare with flextime.


In music, the instrumental introduction to an opera, played by the orchestra before the curtain rises.


In computing, to record or copy new data on top of existing data, as in updating a file or directory, each character typed replacing an existing character in the file. Overwriting is sometimes used as a method of destroying electronic records because data overwritten cannot be recovered. Also refers to a file or directory that has been overwritten.

Also, a pre-existing cartographic item, other than a remote-sensing image, to which substantial manuscript additions have been made, often in a distinctive color (or colors) and for a specific purpose. Compare with overprint.


own ends
In bookbinding, endpapers made from the blank first and last leaves of the text block, instead of a different paper.


ownership mark
A mark in or on a book or other bibliographic item indicating the name of the library that owns it, usually in the form of a label, bookplate, embossment, perforation, or stamp (usually in permanent ink). An ownership mark is normally placed where it can be easily located but usually not in a position of prominence or where it might cause confusion or disfigure the item (click here to see an example that is intrusive). Some libraries and archives use a secret ownership mark, for example, a dot or group of dots positioned according to a system known only to the technical processing staff. See also: ex-library copy.

In a more general sense, any mark, label, or other indication in or on a book of the identity of its past or present owner(s), including signatures, inscriptions, bookplates, etc. (click here and here and here to see examples). Ownership marks can be important in establishing provenance and value in the market for antiquarian books. Click here to see an ownership mark in the form of an unusual family emblem in a 15th-century copy of the Chroniques of Jean Froissart (Getty Museum). Ownership marks are sometimes forged or altered to make a book appear older or more valuable. See also: proof of ownership.


Oxford corners
A binding decorated with plain, straight border lines that cross at the corners, popular from the 16th to the 18th century. The lines can be tooled in blind or gilt. Click here to see a 17th-century blind-tooled example (Special Collections, Glasgow University Library, Ag-d.73).


Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
The most complete collection of words and their definitions in the English language as spoken throughout the world, the Oxford English Dictionary is also the leading authority on word origins and the evolution of the English language over the past 1,000 years. Published in 20 volumes by Oxford University Press, the OED is currently in its second edition, with a third edition in preparation. It is available in print, on CD-ROM, and online, updated quarterly. Click here to learn more about the OED from the publisher. To learn about the history of the OED, see Wikipedia.


Oxford hollow
A type of hollow back binding, used in England from about 1820, in which a stiff, tight paper tube is glued directly to the spine of the book block. The cover material is then glued directly to the outside of the paper tube, permitting the book to open fully. Click here to learn more about the technique, courtesy of the Cornell University Library.


A chemical reaction in which a substance bonds with molecules of oxygen, usually as a result of exposure to oxygen in the atmosphere. In medieval manuscripts, this process can cause metal-based pigments such as silver and white, yellow, or red lead to fade or turn silver-black in color and to bleed, as in this example, courtesy of the British Library (Burney 2). In some cases, a coating of glair was used by the illuminator to reduce oxidation, but according to the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, extent of oxidation is determined primarily by the conditions under which a manuscript is stored, particularly the amount of exposure to adverse atmospheric conditions. Synonymous with oxidization.


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