What’s in a Bib Record?

Do you ever see something so different or complicated that you just have to pause and think, “What am I looking at here?”

I think library records can look like that sometimes, so I’m going to use this post to clear up what we’re seeing when we do a search in the library’s Quick Search tool.

You can access the library’s Quick Search from the Bell Library homepage. Type whatever you’re interested in (monkeys, lime beans, emo kid hair culture, etc.) into the big search box, and hit the blue “search” button.

Now you’ll see your results page. This is a long list of all the things (books, DVDs, journal articles, dissertations, newspaper articles, etc.) that have something to do with the words you searched for. You can use the filters on the left to limit your results list to just the things important to you (like articles from the last 5 years or books that are in the popular reading collection).

What I want to talk about are the bib records. “Bib” is short for “bibliographic,” which sort of translates to “book stuff.” In libraries we use the phrase “bib record” to refer to things like the publisher, the title, the author—all of the information we have that’s about a piece of information like a book, an article, or a movie.

Check out the images below to see a breakdown of what we’re looking at when we see a journal article’s bib record in the library’s Quick Search results.


First we see the title of the journal article in blue. In bold are the words that you put in the search box on the previous screen. Clicking on the title will take you to the article (or to a page where you can click on a database which will then take you to the article).


Below that is the author’s name. You can see it’s highlighted blue meaning it’s a link. Clicking on the author’s name will show you what else this person has written.


Below the author’s information is the publication information. This includes journal title, as well as the volume, issue, and date this article was published in.


We have lots of materials online, and you can tell what’s online when you see the orange “online” flag  or the “Full Text Online” indicator. If you want to limit your results to just those you can access online, you can use the filter “Full Text Online” which is at the top of the filter menu on the left hand side of the results page.


Lastly, there are a bunch of tools you can use to help you out as a researcher. This icon that looks like two chain links generates a link that will always bring you back to this article. It’s called a “permalink” because it’s permanently attached to this article.


The next tool is my favorite: a citation generator! I hate typing out citations, so this button is a life saver. You click this button, select the format you’re working in (like APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.), and then BOOM: a citation is created. Double check that the citation is correct before you submit your manuscript or turn in a final paper, but you can essentially copy and paste it into your works cited page.


If you organize your research by saving articles in your email account or if you want to share an article with someone else, you can use this little envelop shaped button to send an email with a link that will bring you right back to this exact article!



If you get to the results page and see lots of materials that are of interest to you, you can save them all by clicking on this little folder icon. Once you’re done searching and collecting title that look useful, you can find everything you’ve saved by clicking on the white folder icon in the upper right hand side of the screen. From there, you can send yourself or someone else all of the cool stuff you found!

So now that you know what you’re looking at—use this information wisely! Save yourself time by making sure items are relevant before you dig into them, cite your sources, and pursue curiosity!

Emily Metcalf

Instructional Services Librarian

Hater of Citation Writing

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