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Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science

by Joan M. Reitz
Now available in print! Order a copy of the hardcover or paperback from Libraries Unlimited.

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vacuum cleaning
The most effective way to prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt when library collections are stored on open shelving. Routine maintenance with an electrically-powered vacuum machine is best done with a soft brush attachment. Protective face mask and gloves are recommended for very dusty collections. Click here to see examples of the procedure, courtesy of the University of Illinois Library.

vacuum freeze drying
A conservation procedure by which water-saturated books are frozen, then dried by placing them in a chamber from which the air has been extracted, causing ice crystals to vaporize without melting (a process known as sublimation). For best results, the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) recommends that materials be frozen as soon as possible after becoming wet. According to former Yale University conservator Jane Greenfield, the method minimizes swelling and distortion of the book's structure, so that materials require little extra storage space when dry (The Care of Fine books, Nick Lyons Books, 1988). Labor-intensive, the procedure is expensive because wet materials must be shipped to a specialized treatment facility equipped with a vacuum sealer. The method is not recommended for photographic materials, and leather and vellum bindings may not survive the process. Compare with freezer drying and vacuum thermal drying. See also: air drying.

vacuum thermal drying
A conservation procedure by which slightly to very wet books (or other records) are placed wet or frozen in a vacuum chamber and dried at just above 32 degrees F. Because the materials remain wet while drying, the method may produce extreme distortion of the text block and binding in books and blocking of coated papers. According to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), the method is more cost-effective than air drying for large numbers of water-damaged items, but extensive rebinding or recasing is often necessary. Compare with vacuum freeze drying.

vade mecum
A Latin phrase meaning "goes with me." A small book such as a guidebook, handbook, or manual meant to be carried about, used during the Middle Ages by physicians, astrologers, and tradesmen for quick reference and computation. Offten suspended from a girdle or belt, some were designed so that the pages folded out like a map or accordion-style. Click here to view a 17th-century example for the use of merchants and tradesmen, containing a brief almanac with tables for calculating interest and prices, information on travel routes, standard fares, etc., bound in a protective vellum envelope with a metal fore-edge clasp. In a more general sense, any item regularly carried by a person. Also spelled vade-mecum. Plural: vade mecums.

value added
A service offered to a library by a vendor that enhances the product, thereby increasing its value in the market place, for example, the addition by the vendor of table of contents notes to the catalog records for titles purchased (additional charges may apply). Also, a supplementary feature designed to facilitate or enhance an existing library service, for example, a search utility that helps users identify and locate fiction in DVD, video, or laserdisc format via the library's online catalog. Also spelled value-added.

value added tax (VAT)
A consumption tax on the purchase price of goods and services, which the seller must remit to the government.

Damage to library collections, furnishings, or facilities that is intentional rather than accidental, usually motivated by anger or malice on the part of the perpetrator (see this example). Vandalism detracts from the physical appearance of a library and its resources. The cost of repair or replacement puts an unwelcome burden on the budget. To avoid detection, most acts of vandalism are committed in unstaffed locations or after hours. Some libraries employ a security guard to keep an eye on areas not visible from at least one public service point when the library is open. Compare with defacement.

vandyke print
A photographic print made with an iron-silver process introduced in the late 19th century, which produces an image in rich tones of brown, similar to the brown oil paint used by the 17th-century Flemish artist Anthony van Dyke (see this example). Also spelled van dyke print. Synonymous with Van Dyke Brown (VDB).

vanilla text
Text written on a computer, usually with the aid of a text editor or word processing software in a standard font without formatting (boldface, italics, etc.), usually with the extension .txt at the end of the filename. Synonymous with plaintext. See also: ASCII.

vanity press
See: vanity publisher.

vanity publisher
A type of publisher, more common in the United States than in other countries, that specializes in producing books at the author's expense, used mainly by writers whose works have been rejected by commercial publishers and by individuals of private means who are convinced they have an important message to impart to the world. In England, vanity publishing is used primarily for poetry. Books published by vanity publishers are avoided by reviewers and rarely purchased by retail booksellers and libraries. Click here to read what the Better Business Bureau of New York has to say about vanity or subsidy publishing. Synonymous with vanity press. Compare with private press and self-publishing. See also: sponsored book.

variable control field
See: control field.

variable data field
A variable field of the MARC record (tagged 1XX-9XX with XX in the range of 00-99) that has two indicator positions following the tag and usually contains textual rather than coded information, consisting of one or more elements of bibliographic description, each recorded in a separate subfield preceded by a two-character subfield code. Compare with control field.

variable field
A field of the MARC record that varies in length, containing either coded data or text, subdivided into logical elements recorded in separate subfields. All the fields in the MARC record are variable except the 24-character leader (field 001) and the 005, 006, 007, and 008 fields, which are also of fixed length. Variable fields are of two types: control fields (tagged 00X), which include neither indicators nor subfield codes, and variable data fields (tagged 1XX-9XX with XX in the range of 00-99), which include two indicator positions following the tag and a subfield code at the beginning of each data element.

A copy of a book that differs slightly in one or more points from others of the same impression or from a previous printing of the same edition. The differences may occur in the sections, binding, or both. More than one variant may exist within a single impression. Once priority of publication has been conclusively established, such variations are referred to as issues and states. Also refers to one of two or more slightly different early texts of a literary work, for example, the plays of Shakespeare that survive in multiple versions. Abbreviated var.

Also, one of several forms of a word retrieved when the truncated stem is used as a search term in a keywords search, for example, the terms videocassette, videodisc, videorecording, and videotape retrieved by truncating "video," as in video* or video$.

variant edition
An edition that includes changes made in the work by the author, sometimes ranging from first composition all the way to publication in a definitive edition, allowing the reader to see the evolution of the text. Compare with variorum edition.

variety show
A theatrical production, motion picture, or program for radio or television in which a number of separate acts, sketches, dances, and/or musical performances, introduced by a host, are combined in non-narrative sequence, for example, the television series American Bandstand hosted and produced by Dick Clark, broadcast from 1952 to 1989. Synonymous with revue. See also: vaudeville.

variorum edition
From the Latin phrase cum notis variorum, meaning "with notes from various persons." An edition based on scholarly comparison and interpretation of several previously published versions of the text, which also includes commentary written by various editors (see this example). Click here to browse the Wordsworth Variorum Archive, edited by James M. Garrett. Compare with variant edition. See also: definitive edition.

various dates (v.d.)
A phrase used to indicate that a set or series of volumes contains works that have different publication dates.

The glossy coating applied to the printed surface of the paper cover or dust jacket on a new book for protection and to enhance its visual appeal. Varnish can be expensive when applied in a separate press run. A second pass is not required when varnish is added to gloss ink.

Vatican Library
Although the Catholic popes always had private libraries, in the 15th century Pope Nicholas V created a library specifically for the clerics and scholars who lived and worked in and around the papal palace. A suite of rooms was set aside, and he began collecting the most beautiful manuscript books of the time. Pope Sixtus IV continued the work, and the library's holdings grew rapidly from about 1,200 books in 1455 to 3,500 in 1481 when the first handwritten catalog was made by the librarian Platina.

From the beginning, the library included not only Bibles and works on theology and canon law but also secular works, particularly the Greek and Latin classics, which the popes collected in texts as close to the original as they could find. During the Renaissance, the Vatican Library became a center of classical culture in Europe, and its librarians were often distinguished scholars. It continues to be one of the great libraries of the Western world, attracting scholars of all nationalities to its collections of important historical documents and rare and fine books (see this photograph of the interior). The online exhibition Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture is sponsored by the Library of Congress. Click here to connect to the homepage of the Vatican Library.

A genre of live theatrical entertainment, popular in North America from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, featuring a variety of separate, unrelated acts offered on the same bill (see this example), including musicians and ensembles (classical and popular), minstrels, dancers, comedians, ventriloquists, female and male impersonators, magicians, acrobats, athletes, jugglers, trained animals, one-act plays and scenes from plays, celebrity lecturers, and movies. Vaudeville audiences were of mixed gender; the performance halls were alcohol-free; and the entertainments selected for their appeal to the middle-class (example). Some artists were genuinely talented and established successful careers, especially at the end of the vaudeville era when many performers migrated to motion pictures. The genre made a brief comeback in the television variety shows of the 1950s and 1960s (example: The Ed Sullivan Show).

A windowless room in a library, archive, museum, or other facility reserved for housing motion picture film, usually equipped with open racks or shelves designed to hold rolls of film wound on reels or cores and stored in film cans (see this example). Temperature and relative humidity are carefully controlled inside a film vault to retard the chemical decay of film base. In media libraries, compact storage or shelving may be used to conserve space. Also used synonymously with film archive and television archive. See also: staging area.

In archives, a completely secure and fire-safe enclosure for storing valuable documents or essential records. Access is restricted to a few authorized persons and environmental controls may be maintained for conservation (see this example).

In archives, the storage of valuable or vital records in a completely secure and fire-safe enclosure that is used exclusively for document storage. Electronic vaulting is the storage of digital data off-site, offline, and out of reach of viruses, worms, and hackers.

A microchip installed in a television set, designed to allow parents to block access to programs containing content considered unsuitable for children (violence, explicit sex, adult language, etc.). In 1996, Congress passed legislation requiring manufacturers of television receivers to install the V-chip in sets sold in the United States (13-inch or larger). However, according to the Christian Science Monitor, a survey released in July 2001 found that only 7 percent of parents with children 2-17 years old use the V-chip in their television set, either because they own an older set, do not know if their set has a V-chip, or find it difficult to use. Some 56 percent said they use the rating displayed on the screen before a program begins to make decisions about their children's viewing. Click here to connect to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Web site on the V-Chip. See also: censorship.

An abbreviation of videocassette recorder, an electronic device designed to record onto videotape (in VHS format) signals received by a standard television receiver for playback on a television monitor. VCRs are also used to play prerecorded videocassettes (feature films, documentaries, etc.). Although VCRs are analog machines, adapters are available that enable digital data to be stored on videotape as computer backup. Click here to find out how VCRs work, courtesy of HowStuffWorks.

See: various dates.

See: terminal.

vector data
A digital data structure in which discrete map features are represented by rows in a table of values. Shapes are defined by pairs of x, y coordinates, with points connecting to become lines, and lines connecting to form closed polygons (areas). Attributes are associated with each feature in the data table for a given layer of data, for example, length and width for a line representing a road, stream, coastline, or boundary. Because the size of a vector file is generally smaller than that of an image (raster) file representing the same feature, vector data is preferred for map features that have a linear component. Vector data is also easier to resize than raster data, which can become pixilated if enlarged too much. See also: digital line graph.

A thin, fine membrane made from the unsplit skin of a newborn animal (usually a calf, but lamb, kid, and deerskin were also used), treated with lime, stretched, scraped, and polished rather than tanned, for use as a writing surface during the Middle Ages, before paper came into widespread use in Europe, and for copies of various editions (including the Gutenberg Bible) during the first 75 years of printing. Also used in early bookbinding as a covering material and for paste-downs. At one time the term was used interchangeably with parchment, but vellum is of finer quality. According to The Bookman's Glossary (Bowker, 1983), the finest vellum, known as uterine vellum, was made during the 13th and 14th centuries from the skins of stillborn or unborn animals and reserved for the most costly manuscripts.

Because vellum is made from the entire unsplit skin, tiny marks of hair follicles are visible on one side. Highly durable, vellum has a tendency to curl toward the grain side under conditions of low humidity. Click here to see a close-up of a vellum leaf from a 15th-century illuminated gradual (Leaves of Gold) and here to see a 14th-century French psalter and Book of Hours in grisaille on vellum (Metropolitan Museum of Art). Capable of taking a rich, dark impression from type, vellum has long been used by private presses to produce a few special copies of an edition (click here to see one of 13 copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer printed on vellum). See also: Japanese vellum, purple vellum, and vellum binding.

Also refers to a manuscript written on the material and to a fine-quality off-white paper made to resemble the membrane.

vellum binding
A book bound in the dressed and polished skin of newborn animal (calf, lamb, kid, etc.), with or without tooling, left in its natural creamy white color or painted or stained. Click here to see a plain blind-tooled vellum binding and here to see a painted example tooled in gold. Medieval manuscripts were sometimes bound in vellum manuscript leaves taken from older books (click here and here to see examples). Limp vellum bindings were also used on printed books (see this example). Modern vellum bindings are often decorated with painted designs (University of North Texas Libraries) or in gold leaf (CBBAG). To see other examples, try a search on the keyword "vellum" in the British Library's Database of Bookbindings. See also: pierced vellum.

Silk or cotton cloth with a thick, soft pile (plush), popular as a covering material in textile binding of the 16th and 17th centuries when it was often embroidered in silk and/or metallic thread. Click here to see an 18th-century red velvet binding decorated with the monogram of Frederik IV of Denmark (Royal Library of Denmark). To see other examples, try a search on the keyword "velvet" in the British Library's Database of Bookbindings.

vending machine
A machine designed to automatically dispense goods when the correct amount of money, or a credit or debit card, is inserted and a selection made. In libraries, copy cards are often dispensed in this way.

A company in the business of providing access to a selection of bibliographic databases, online or on CD-ROM, by subscription (examples: EBSCO, ProQuest, Gale, etc.) or on a per search basis (OCLC FirstSearch and DIALOG), usually under licensing agreement. Providers of nonprint media are also commonly referred to as vendors.

In a more general sense, any individual, company, or agency, other than a publisher, that provides products and/or services to a library or library system for a fee. A distinction is normally made between book vendors (booksellers, dealers, jobbers, etc.) and serials vendors (subscription agents, continuation dealers, etc.). A vendor may also provide automated customer services such as management reports and electronic transmission of bibliographic or invoice data. The term is also used for businesses that specialize in developing and marketing library systems, such as online catalog software and library management systems. Click here to view the AcqWeb directory of library publishers and vendors.

Venn diagram
A graphical device in which closed circles (or ovals) are used to illustrate the logical relationship between sets of data: nonintersecting circles for sets with no elements in common; overlapping circles for sets with some but not all elements in common; and a circle within a circle for a set that is a subset of another. Invented by Johann Sturm in 1661 and named after the English logician John Venn (1834-1923) who used them from 1880 on, Venn diagrams are used in bibliographic instruction to help students visualize the results of Boolean logic in keyword searching. Click here to see examples, courtesy of John Henderson, Ithaca College Library.

verbal scale
See: statement of equivalency.

In exactly the same words as the original source or text, word for word, as in a direct quotation. It is plagiarism to quote verbatim without acknowledging the source.

verbatim et literatim
A Latin phrase meaning "word for word and letter for letter," precisely as written or printed. More loosely, a quotation, transcription, or translation that is faithful to the original. Also refers to a literal translation.

The process of using bibliographic sources to ascertain that an author actually exists (or existed), or to determine the proper form of a name or the correct title of a work, usually prior to ordering or cataloging the item for a library collection. Compare with pre-order searching. In a more general sense, checking the truth or accuracy of any fact or statement, usually by consulting a source of authoritative information.

From the Latin vernaculus, meaning "native." In literature, works written in the daily language of a group of people, particularly the inhabitants of a specific geographic region, as distinct from the literary or official language of the same population or area, for example, the language of the novels of Thomas Hardy in which English country folk speak and act in a manner appropriate to their rural origins. In the context of the Middle Ages, a vernacular language was one spoken in a particular region, as distinct from Latin and Greek, the international literary languages of the time. The slow growth of vernacular literature in Europe was enhanced by the expansion of secular literacy following the development of universities beginning in about the 12th century. Click here and here to see examples, courtesy of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. See also: vernacular name.

vernacular designator
A standard word or abbreviation used in cataloging in a given language to describe or classify an item, especially a serial publication or one of its parts, for example, fasc. for "fascicle" in English and "fascicule" in French and Fasz. for "Faszikel" in German. Princeton University Library provides online access to tables of Vernacular Designators by Language at its Web site on cataloging documentation.

vernacular name
The form of a person's name used in reference sources published in his or her country of birth or permanent residence. In AACR2, the cataloger is instructed to use the form of name that has become well-established in English-language reference sources and to make appropriate references from other forms (example: 'Umar Khayyam see Omar Khayyam).

A large ornamental capital letter written at the left-hand margin or in the text of a manuscript to indicate the beginning of a paragraph, verse, or other division. Using square capitals, rustic capitals, or uncials as models, medieval scribes exaggerated the round or vertical strokes or serifs for decorative effect. Early examples were sometimes outlined in small dots. Versals were usually written in ink of a different color than the text (commonly in red and/or blue). The larger size meant that a versal occupied more than one line, its top usually aligned with the minuscules of the word to which it belonged. Click here to see several examples on a page from a 16th-century German missal (Cary Collection, Rochester Institute). Compare with initial letter.

A sequence of words arranged in accordance with established rules of metrical composition, rhyme, etc. Also, a set of lines comprising one unit in the overall pattern of a metrical composition (song, ballad, etc.) written in several sections of similar form, aside from any refrain. Synonymous in this sense with stanza. Also used as a general term for light poetry. See also: doggerel, light verse, limerick, and nonsense verse.

In a sacred text, such as the Bible, one or more sentences forming a division of a chapter, usually numbered for reference.

The transformation of a prose work into poetic or metrical language. Also, the overall structure or style in which a poetic work is composed.

One of several variations of an intellectual work, possibly created for a purpose or use other than the one originally intended. Also, a variant form of a work of unknown or uncertain authorship, such as a fairy tale or legend. Also refers to a specific translation of the Bible or any of its parts (example: King James Version). Abbreviated vers. Compare with adaptation and edition.

In computer software, a specific upgrade of an operating system or application program, usually indicated by a decimal number following the title, for example, 5.0 to indicate a significant upgrade, 5.1 a modification containing routine enhancements, and 5.11 a follow-up, perhaps to correct a minor bug in the previous version. As a general rule, there is greater risk in purchasing version 1.0 of a software program than in purchasing subsequent versions.

From the Latin phrase verso folio, meaning "with the page turned." The back side of a book or the left-hand page of an opening in a book or other publication, usually assigned an even page number. The opposite of recto. Click here to see a verso in the 15th-century Burnet Psalter and here to see the recto of the same leaf (University of Aberdeen Library). Publisher's imprint, publication date, notice of copyright, ISBN, and CIP are usually given on the verso of the title page of a book. Also refers to the reverse side of a single printed sheet, the side intended by the printer to be read second.

vertical exaggeration
In cartographic representation, a ratio of vertical to horizontal scale greater than 1:1, which has the effect of raising the apparent elevation of points above base level and lowering the apparent depth of points below base level. Expressed as a ratio (5:1, 10:1, etc.), vertical exaggeration is often used to enhance relief on models, block diagrams, profiles, and cross sections. Click here to see the concept illustrated, courtesy of the Gulf of Maine Aquarium. Click here to see vertical exaggeration used in a series of isometric block diagrams (Kansas Geological Survey) and here to see it used in a cross section, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

vertical file
A collection of loose clippings, pictures, illustrations, pamphlets, or other materials of an ephemeral nature that, because of size and format, are filed on edge in drawers or in a box, usually organized in folders by subject or some other classification system to facilitate retrieval. Also refers to the filing cabinet in which such materials are stored (see this example).

very good
A description of condition used in the book trade to indicate that a copy shows slight signs of wear, but would be acceptable to all but the most fastidious collector. Defects are noted by the bookseller. Compare with fine copy and good.

An initialism for Video Graphics Array, a standard video adapter in an IBM PC, capable of producing resolutions of 640 x 480 pixels in up to 256 colors. VGA circuits convert the digital signals generated by the computer into analog used by CRTs and most flat-backed monitors. Superseded by SVGA.

An initialism for Video Home System, a video recording and playback format consisting of hard plastic cassettes containing half-inch videotape. Introduced by JVC in 1976 to compete with Sony's Beta format, VHS has since become the industry standard for both home and commercial use. SVHS (Super VHS) was developed to improve resolution. DVD format is gaining on VHS in library collections, particularly in public libraries. See also: VCR.

The imperative form of the Latin verb videre, "to see." Used in the sense of "refer to" in footnotes to direct the reader's attention to a specific passage, page, chapter, or work. Abbreviated v. or vid.

An educational videorecording that can be downloaded from a Web site, usually on subscription, as part of an online training course. Also spelled video book.

A blank or prerecorded videotape permanently enclosed in a hard plastic case containing two take-up reels to which the ends of the tape are permanently attached for playback and rewinding in a device called a videocassette recorder (VCR). Click here to see an example. In the United States, the standard format for videotapes is VHS. Most libraries shelve videocassettes in a separate section, but in some libraries they are integrated into the circulating collection by call number. To satisfy demand, the loan period for videocassettes may be shorter and the overdue fine higher than for books. Click here to learn about the history of the videocassette. Compare with videorecording.

video clip
A short section of a longer work produced on videotape, used in a broadcast or incorporated into another work such as a Web page, usually for promotional purposes or to give the viewer a brief impression of the whole (see this example in YouTube). Compare with film clip.

A meeting of two or more participants conducted in real time at a distance using a video camera, microphone, and large television monitor or computer screen installed at each location, linked by satellite or digital network. Videoconferencing can save time and travel expense, especially in distance learning and in organizations with geographically separate units. Also spelled video conference.

A large read-only analog optical disk usually made of plastic with a reflective metal coating on which visual images (still photographs and motion pictures) and associated audio signals are recorded for subsequent playback on a videodisc player attached to a television receiver and monitor (see this example). Also spelled video disk. Compare with videorecording. See also: DVD.

video game
An electronic game requiring human interaction with a graphical user interface via an input device, known as a game controller, to generate visual feedback on a display device, such as a video game console or computer screen. Games designed for personal computers may require specialized hardware. Platforms are also available for handheld devices. Most video games include audio. Video games can be educational or simply entertaining. Genres include action and/or adventure, sports, music, strategy, simulation, role-playing, and MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).

Although young adult males remain the primary audience in this multi-billion dollar business, studies confirm a broadening of the market to include more males aged 25-40 and females. Video games may be distributed on physical media, such as DVDs and CDs; as Internet-downloadable files; via online delivery services; or as freely redistributable software. Created by game developers, video games may be published independently or by commercial publishers.

Video Librarian
Published bimonthly since 1986, Video Librarian provides over 200 reviews per issue of videorecordings in over 20 subject areas and current motion pictures available on videotape and DVD. A subscription to Video Librarian PLUS includes access to archives of previously published reviews, a new release calendar with links to prepublication reviews, a biweekly collection development column, and a searchable database of distributors. ISSN: 0887-6851. Click here to connect to the Video Librarian homepage.

video on demand (VOD)
A service that allows video content to be searched, selected, and viewed as desired (rather than pre-programmed), either by streaming through a set-top box for viewing in real time or by downloading digitally from a remote server to an external device such as a personal computer, digital video recorder (DVR), or portable media player (PMP) for viewing at any time. Most cable- and telco-based television providers offer both methods, usually on a pay-per-view basis. Internet television is an increasingly popular form of video on demand (see Netflix). Many VOD systems provide the user with VCR functionality. VOD was first introduced commercially in 1998 by Kingston Communications in the UK. OhioLINK's Digital Media Center (DMC) is an example of a library VOD collection. Also spelled video-on-demand. Also abbreviated VoD.

A telephone with attached video display, enabling callers to see, in real time, the person to whom they speak.

A generic term for an electronic medium in which visual images, usually in motion and accompanied by sound, are recorded for playback by means of a television receiver or monitor. The category includes videotape and videodisc. Videorecordings are listed by title and indexed by subject, credits, awards, and special formats in The Video Source Book, an annual reference serial published by the National Video Clearinghouse. Also spelled video recording. See also: full-motion video, Video Librarian, video on demand, and Video Round Table.

In AACR2, a term used in the physical description area of the bibliographic record to describe the physical form of a visual work recorded on videotape that is wound on one or more open reels, rather than encased in a cassette or cartridge.

Video Round Table (VRT)
A round table of the American Library Association (ALA), VRT provides leadership on issues related to video collections, programs, and services in all types of libraries, including copyright, pricing, censorship, and preservation. VRT also forms alliances with the film and video production and distribution industry to promote diverse, high-quality video production. Click here to connect to the VRT homepage.

Magnetic tape on which visual images and accompanying sound are recorded for subsequent playback via television receiver and monitor, usually sold in the form of a videocassette. The industry standard is one-half-inch-wide tape (VHS). Compare with videorecording. See also: educational videotape and streaming video.

An interactive (two-way) telecommunication system in which a television receiver is adapted to enable computer databases to be searched over a telephone line or cable, using a menu-system or keyboard for input. Search results are displayed on the television screen. Synonymous in Britain with viewdata. Compare with teletext.

See: teletext.

In cartography, a nonphotographic topographical representation, in any medium, of a landscape or structure, made from a perspective that makes details appear as if projected on an oblique plane, for example, a bird's-eye view. Click here to see two bird's-eye-view insets on a 17th-century map of the Kingdom of Sicily (National Martime Museum) and here to see a 19th-century bird's eye view of the town of Nashua, Iowa (IAGenWeb Project). Sometimes used for comic effect, as in a worm's-eye view. See also: cityscape, cyclorama, isometric view, and panorama.

A promotional publication, usually issued annually in print or online, consisting primarily of pictures and maps of an educational institution or town, intended to introduce the campus or location visually to prospective students, residents, or visitors (see this example). The images may be photographs, photomechanical prints, or postcards. The pages of older viewbooks may be connected by accordion folds.

The eyepiece of a camera, through which the photographer frames the image to be captured on film. More generally, the eyepiece of any optical device, through which a person may frame an image.

viewing room
A special room in a library equipped with projection equipment for viewing motion pictures, videorecordings, or DVDs, individually or in a group. Viewing equipment may include a film projector and screen and a VCR and/or DVD player attached to a large-screen television monitor or projector. Use of the equipment is usually limited to registered borrowers and may be by appointment only. See also: listening room.

View-Master card
See: stereograph.

A small illustration or decoration appearing on or before a title page or at the beginning or end of a chapter in a book. In illuminated manuscripts, a small image or design, usually circular or oval in shape, often framed by vine leaves and tendrils, used to decorate an initial letter, border, or miniature. Square vignettes of the Creation of the World adorn the the border of a this page from an early 15th-century copy of Boccaccio's Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women (Getty Museum, MS 63). Vignettes were also used to decorate bookbindings, as in these examples of 19th-century gold-stamped publisher's bindings (Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, Columbia University).

Also refers to a circular or oval image without a border, the edges of the background gradually shading into the blank space of the page, a technique widely used in portraits, photographs, and engravings of the 18th and 19th centuries. Click here to see a 19th-century hand-colored daguerreotype vignette portrait, courtesy of the Getty Museum.

In literature and history, a sketch characterized by conciseness of style and delicacy of feeling, which gives a brief but poignant impression of a scene, character, or situation, without elements of plot or factual detail. A vignette can be part of a longer work.

vinegar syndrome
See: acetate decay.

vine-leaf initial
An initial letter in a medieval manuscript, ornamented with a pattern of interlace or coiled vine terminating in three-pointed leaves, usually painted in red and/or blue with white shading or in gilt, a style of decoration used from the 13th century up to the second half of the 15th century. Click here and here to see examples in 14th-century English manuscripts (Special Collections, Glasgow University Library, MS Hunter 231 and Gen 336). The motif is also used in ornamental borders--see this example (Leaves of Gold) and this example in The Belles Heures of Jean of Berry (The Cloisters). Compare with white-vine initial.

The hard plastic chemical compound polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from which 12-inch wide microgroove 33 1/3 rpm long-playing records (LPs) are made. Prior to the introduction of LPs in the 1950s, 78 rpm phonograph records were made of shellac. Although vinyl plastic is flexible and unbreakable under normal use, vinyl records are easier to scratch or gouge and more prone to warping than earlier shellac records. Also used in the recording industry and by collectors as a slang term for long-playing record.

virgin paper
Paper manufactured from fresh wood or cotton pulp, not from recovered fiber. Compare with recycled paper.

See: slash.

An adjective referring to activities, objects, beings, and places that have no actual physical reality because they exist only in digital form (in cyberspace), for example, an e-mail "box" or an electronic "shopping cart."

virtual library
A "library without walls" in which the collections do not exist on paper, microform, or other tangible form at a physical location but are electronically accessible in digital format via computer networks. Such libraries exist only on a very limited scale, but in most traditional print-based libraries in the United States, catalogs and periodical indexes are available online, and some periodicals and reference works may be available in electronic full-text. Some libraries and library systems call themselves "virtual" because they offer online services (example: Colorado Virtual Library).

The term digital library is more appropriate because virtual (borrowed from "virtual reality") suggests that the experience of using such a library is not the same as the "real" thing when in fact the experience of reading or viewing a document on a computer screen may be qualitatively different from reading the same publication in print, but the information content is the same regardless of format.

virtual reality
An electronic environment created especially for computer users through the use of software that simulates the visual appearance of three-dimensional reality but lacks physical substance, used mainly for training purposes and popular entertainment.

virtual reference
See: digital reference.

virtual tour
An online tour of a library's facilities, usually available over the Internet (click here and here to see examples). Formats vary but some include clickable floor plans linked to photographs with accompanying text describing the collections and services available at each location. To see other examples, try a search on the keywords "virtual tour and library" in Google Images.

virtual union catalog
An automated system for searching the holdings of two or more discrete library catalogs together, using Z39.50 and/or other mechanisms for broadcast search and retrieval, in contrast to a centralized union catalog in which catalog records are gathered in a single database or physical location.

Software intended to harm the computers connected to a network, usually disseminated with malicious or hostile intent by persons who try to conceal their identity to avoid detection and prosecution. Most viruses are designed to attach to programs or parts of the operating system, where they replicate with destructive effect. To prevent this type of damage, LAN administrators install anti-virus software that automatically checks for viruses and eliminates them whenever possible. Anti-virus software can also be purchased by individual computer users who wish to protect their PCs. Click here to learn more about computer viruses, courtesy of HowStuffWorks. See also: security and worm.

An official visit, for example, by an accreditation team for purposes of inspection and evaluation.

visiting card
A small printed or engraved card bearing a person's name and in some cases the street address, sometimes enclosed in an envelope, for presentation to the host's servant when making a formal social call and left behind to indicate that the call was made, a practice introduced in Europe in the 17th century (see this 19th-century example). Some visiting cards are embellished with a portrait, coat of arms, scene, or decoration. Click here to learn more about the etiquette of visiting cards in 19th-century society. Synonymous with calling card. See also: carte-de-visite.

visual aid
An item, such as a motion picture, videocassette, slide, photograph, map, chart, model, specimen, etc., used by an instructor or presenter to allow the audience to view an example or representation of what is being taught. Instruction librarians sometimes bring to the classroom reference books containing information pertinent to course content to enable students to recognize them by sight.

visual dictionary
A dictionary in which words and phrases (grouped by subject, theme, or activity) are illustrated, usually in a line drawing on the same or the opposite page, with each term keyed to the corresponding feature in the diagram by a thin line or small reference number printed on the illustration. Click here to search the Visual Dictionary Online, courtesy of Merriam-Webster. The format is also used in language dictionaries with the terms corresponding to the illustrations given in two languages. Synonymous with pictorial dictionary and picture dictionary.

visual display terminal (VDT)
See: terminal.

visually impaired
A person whose sight makes using library materials in conventional formats difficult, if not impossible. Library services designed to meet the needs of visually impaired persons include Braille, large print, audiobooks and other recorded media, and radio reading service. In the United States, such services are available through the federally funded National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). For a good list of recommendations, see "Academic Reference Service for the Visually Impaired: A Guide for the Non-Specialist" by Vincent Tinerella and Marcia Dick in the January 2005 issue of C&RL News.

visual materials (VM)
One of seven categories of items for which the MARC 21 format for bibliographic description establishes content designators for data elements. The VM category covers two-dimensional items and three-dimensional objects suited primarily for viewing with the human eye, with or without the aid of magnification or projection. It includes: 1) projected media (motion pictures, videorecordings, filmstrips, slides, transparencies, etc.), 2) non-projected media and two-dimensional graphics (art originals and reproductions, prints, posters, photographs, pictures, etc.), 3) kits (multi-media items containing a mixture of components from two or more categories of material), and 4) three-dimensional artifacts and naturally occurring objects (toys, games, models and mock-ups, sculpture, dioramas, specimens, realia, etc.). The category does not include maps. Visual materials may be monographic or serial. The code VM is often used in MARC documentation to designate this material type. The Society of American Archivists (SSA) includes a Visual Materials Section (VMS).

Visual Resources Association (VRA)
An international organization established in 1982 to advance knowledge, research, and education in the field of visual information resources, VRA has a membership of information media professionals, including digital image specialists; art, architecture, film, and video librarians and museum curators; slide, photograph, microfilm, and digital archivists; architectural firms; museums and galleries; publishers and image system vendors; rights and reproduction officials; photographers and artists; art historians; and scientists. VRA sponsors an annual conference and publishes the quarterly VRA Bulletin. Click here to connect to the VRA homepage. See also: VRA Core Categories.

vital records
Records essential to an agency in the ongoing conduct of its business or affairs, without which it would cease to function effectively, for example, the file of patron records used by a library in circulation transactions. For archivists, identifying and protecting vital records under every conceivable circumstance is a primary concern in records management and disaster planning. See also: vaulting.

Also refers to the official records of births, deaths, and marriages maintained by an agency of local, state, or national government. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide a Web site on Where to Write for Vital Records in the United States. Synonymous with vital statistics. See also: civil register.

An abbreviation of the Latin videlicet, meaning "namely," "that is to say," or "to wit," used in text and footnotes to introduce a word or phrase added to explain more completely or precisely a previous word, phrase, or statement.

See: visual materials.

An abbreviation of Victory Mail. Correspondence written on a special preprinted stationery and sent via the military postal system during World War II. To reduce shipping costs, V-mail was censored, microfilmed, and then reproduced on paper at its destination (see these examples, courtesy of the National Postal Museum). To encourage use, the stationery was made available free-of-charge to civilians and members of the armed forces. The system was based on the airgraph photographic process introduced by Eastman Kodak in the 1930s, in cooperation with Imperial Airways (later British Airways) and Pan-American Airways, to reduce the bulk and weight of airmail.

All the words used in a language, or a list of them. Also, all the words and phrases used by a particular person, group, or profession. Also refers to a list of words in a textbook for students learning a foreign language, usually printed at the end of the text containing them or at the end of each chapter. Compare with glossary and lexicon. Sometimes used synonymously with controlled vocabulary.

vocabulary control
In indexing, the process of creating and maintaining a list of preferred terms to indicate (1) which of two or more equivalent terms will represent a concept as the authorized subject heading or descriptor in the classification system and (2) the relations of hierarchy (broader and narrower terms) and association (related terms) among headings once they have been selected. Controlled vocabulary is recorded in a subject headings list or thesaurus that is updated as new concepts emerge and older terminology becomes obsolete. Compare with authority control.

vocabulary mapping
A function built into the search software of some bibliographic databases that allows the user to relate a specific search term to the appropriate subject heading(s) or descriptor(s), read a scope note explaining how the heading is used, view the hierarchical tree of headings to which it belongs, and select broader headings or narrower terms or subheadings to include in the search. Vocabulary mapping is available in large databases, such as MEDLINE and PsycINFO, which have a well-developed controlled vocabulary.

vocal score
The score of a musical work composed for voice (opera, oratorio, cantata, etc.) in which all the parts are shown in normal size on separate staves, with any accompaniment (ordinarily written for orchestra) reduced to two staves for performance on a keyboard instrument. Click here to see a page from a manuscript copy of the piano-vocal score of the opera La Rondine by Puccini. Compare with chorus score.

See: video on demand.

voice mail
A messaging system that allows a person to send, receive, and store audio messages using a standard telephone receiver. Also spelled voicemail. See also: e-mail and fax.

In motion picture, video, and television production, a narration, commentary, or prepared text spoken in the voice of a person not seen on the screen, a technique widely used in advertising. In feature films, the narrator is usually one of the characters in the drama. In documentaries, the narrator is ordinarily identified in the credits, but a celebrity narrator may be identifiable by voice alone. Also spelled voiceover.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Computer hardware and software designed to route telephone calls over a broadband network, such as the Internet. By converting analog voice signals into digital data packets, VoIP enables calls to be transmitted using the Internet Protocol (IP) and Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP), rather than the circuitry of the PSTN (public switched telephone network). IP telephony offers substantial cost savings over traditional long-distance calling because the user pays no surcharge on the normal fee for Internet access. Like cell phone transmission, VoIP has a higher incidence of dropped calls and generally lower voice quality. Internet telephony applications may be stand-alone or bundled with a Web browser. Synonymous with Internet telephony, IP telephony, and Voice over the Internet (VOI).

voice recognition
Technology capable of recognizing the sounds of human speech and converting them into digital signals for processing as input by a computer, used mainly in communications. In computing, command systems capable of recognizing a few hundred words eliminate the need for a mouse or keyboard in repetitive operations. Discrete systems, used in dictation, require the speaker to pause between words. Continuous recognition handles natural language at normal speed but requires considerably more processing capability. Systems capable of understanding large vocabularies spoken at any speed are anticipated in the foreseeable future. See also: artificial intelligence.

See: Voice over Internet Protocol.

In the bibliographic sense, a major division of a work, distinguished from other major divisions of the same work by having its own chief source of information and, in most cases, independent pagination, foliation, or signatures, even when not bound under separate cover and regardless of the publisher's designation. In a set, the individual volumes are usually numbered, with any indexes at the end of the last volume. For a periodical, all the issues published during a given publishing period (usually a calendar year), bound or unbound. The volume number is usually printed on the front cover of each issue and on the same page as the table of contents. In bound periodicals, it is impressed on the spine. Abbreviated v. or vol.

In the physical sense, all the written or printed matter contained in a single binding, portfolio, etc., as originally issued or bound subsequent to issue (AACR2). Often used synonymously, in this sense, with book. Volume as material entity does not necessarily coincide with volume as bibliographic entity (see multipart volume).

Also refers to the loudness of the sound(s) produced by a receiver (radio or television) or an electronic playback machine (phonograph, audiocassette or CD player, VCR, etc.), usually regulated by a volume control device that can be manipulated by the listener.

In archives and records management, the amount of materials in a collection or record series, usually expressed in cubic feet or as an item count (sometimes both).

volume discount
A reduction in price given by the seller to a customer who purchases goods in multiple units or large quantities. The opposite of small order surcharge.

Latin for "a thing rolled up." A writing surface used in Antiquity, consisting of papyrus or vellum sheets attached end-to-end, with text handwritten in columns on one side only, in lines running parallel with the edges of the roll. The last sheet was attached to a straight stick with knobbed ends called an umbilicus, around which the manuscript was rolled. The rolls were stored in a box called a capsa or on deep shelves with a vellum label or ticket attached to one end for identification by title or contents. Synonymous with scroll. See also: scrinium.

volume number
The number assigned to all the issues of a periodical published during a given publication period (usually a calendar year), beginning with number one for the period (year) in which the title was first issued. If the issues are bound in one or more physical volumes, the number is printed or impressed on the spine(s) (see these examples). In a multivolume reference work or set, such as an encyclopedia, the volume number appears on the spine and/or front cover and on the title page (see this example).

volume rights
The rights, usually negotiated with a publisher by the author or author's agent, to publish a work in volume form, including hardcover, paperback, book club, and textbook editions. Volume rights also include publication of the work in its entirety in a single issue of a periodical and reprinting, in full or in part, in an anthology. Compare with subsidiary rights.

A person who works for a library or other organization without material recompense. Library volunteers are often retirees who wish to make a contribution by remaining actively engaged in their community. They perform a variety of tasks, depending on their skills and talents, including reshelving, physical processing, mending, storytelling, landscape maintenance, etc. Compare with internship. See also: community service volunteer and Friends of the Library.

A diagram written or printed on a parchment or paper disc, or series of superimposed discs (or segments of discs), placed within a book or fastened to a bookmarker in a manner that allows them to be rotated manually on a central axis, used during the Middle Ages for computation and in astronomy and astrology to show the positions of celestial bodies. Click here to see them in an early printed book (University of Sydney Library). In this example, they are used in a calendar printed in Venice in 1482 by Erhard Ratdolt (Special Collections, Glasgow University Library, Euing BD7-f.13). See also this late 15th-century manuscript example with three moving parts, courtesy of the British Library (Egerton 848).

vox pop
From the Latin phrase vox populi meaning "voice of the people." In radio and television, impromptu interviews with individuals who are selected at random, usually conducted outside the recording studio to elicit candid opinions about an issue or event.

An abbreviation of various publishers and various places.

See: Visual Resources Association.

VRA Core Categories
A metadata element scheme developed by the Visual Resources Association for describing works of visual culture and images that document them, to facilitate the sharing of information among visual resources collections. Click here to learn more about the VRA Core Categories.

See: Video Round Table.

A type of mainframe terminal developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and introduced in 1978, which became the de facto industry standard, creating an environment in which other types of computers are required to use software that emulates VT100 in order to log on via Telnet to a mainframe. To see examples, try a search on the keyword "VT100" in Google Images.

vue d'optique
A hand-colored etching or engraving, usually a landscape, intended to be viewed through an optical system such as a Zograscope that enhanced the visual effect of linear perspective, commonly used in England and Europe in the late 1700s for peep shows. Some examples had portions of the scenes cut out and the openings backed with translucent papers, to give the impression of illumination when the print was backlit. Because the viewing device included a mirror, image and any lettering were normally reversed. Click here to see examples, courtesy of the Philadelphia Print Shop, or try a keywords search on the term in Google Images. Click here to learn more about vues d'optique. Synonymous with peep show print and perspective view.

From the Latin vulgata, meaning "popular." A Latin translation of the Bible prepared in the 4th century by St. Jerome, which remained for centuries the version authorized by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1546, the Council of Trent, after considering all extant Latin translations, reaffirmed the Vulgate as the official version. The first book printed in Europe, the Gutenberg Bible, is an edition of the Vulgate.

An abbreviation of various years.

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