A modern library would have not only books but audio/video tapes, magazines, journals, etc.

Of course I could use a non-library-specific term like resource or even just item (maybe prepending each with the word library), but I'm wondering if there's a library industry piece of terminology for the individual 'things' being cataloged?

  • A quick search shows that at least some (university) libraries use the term "resources", so as you suggest, "library resources" can be used.
    – Stefan
    Sep 30, 2017 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


Item is consistently used by the USA's Library of Congress. Consider

Today's Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. The collection of more than 164 million items includes more than 38.6 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 70 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.


Year 2016 at a Glance

Circulated more than 997,000 items for use inside and outside the Library

Preserved more than 10.5 million items from the Library's collections

Recorded a total of 164,403,119 items in the collections:

24,189,688 cataloged books in the Library of Congress classification system

14,660,079 items in the nonclassified print collections, including books in large type and raised characters, incunabula (books printed before 1501), monographs and serials, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports, and other printed material
125,553,352 items in the nonclassified (special) collections, including:
3,670,573 audio materials, (discs, tapes, talking books, other recorded formats)
70,685,319 manuscripts 5,581,756 maps
17,153,167 microforms
1,809,351 moving images
8,189,340 items of sheet music
15,071,355 visual materials including:
14,290,385 photographs
107,825 posters
673,145 prints and drawings
3,392,491 other items, (including machine-readable items)

  • "Items" is the single best choice. Libraries used to use "volumes," but that word doesn't capture holdings that are not books sufficiently. One of the problems with "titles" is that its meaning may not be clear when dealing with items that share a single name, such as five physical copies of a single print edition of a book or magazine. "Resources" is probably a little too broad, as a specialist librarian or archivist could be considered a resource.
    – Shosht
    Sep 30, 2017 at 23:43

Consider the term title.

title noun 1.2 A book, magazine, or newspaper considered as a publication. ‘Two Fox Movietone News clips of the cast and crew arriving and working in Japan and trailers for House of Bamboo and the rest of the recent spate of Fox film noir titles fill out this DVD.’ - ODO

As the example in the definition shows, titles are not restricted to paper publications.

However, although actual libraries allow searches for titles, they tend to use the generic term item to refer to the resources, as the following example shows.

The Cairns library uses the generic term item (emphasis, mine).

03 - Library Guide - How To - Reserve An Item

You can reserve up to fifteen (15) items that are out on loan or at another library by using our catalogue either in the library or at home.

These items aren't restricted to books. The catalog search boasts of "over 160,000 items made up of the following:"

  • Books - fiction, non-fiction, large print, languages other than English for adults, youth and children
  • Magazines
  • DVDs
  • Music CDs
  • Kits
  • Talking books, in CD, MP3, and Playaway formats
  • 1
    I prefer the more 'physical' item over title. I think a title may consist of several items. For a lending library, the challenge is to keep track of physical objects. Titles may come in several formats, such as hard cover, paperback, large print editions and audio books.
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 30, 2017 at 12:55

I would suggest published work or publication; with preference leaning toward "published work" or even just "work"

Example Sentence: The library holds over 10,000 published works.

Example Sentence: The library has the complete works of Ray Bradbury.


  1. A thing or things done or made; the result of an action.

    3.1 A literary or musical composition or other piece of art.

    3.2 The artistic production of a particular author, composer, or artist, regarded collectively.


  1. The preparation and issuing of a book, journal, or piece of music for public sale.

    1.1 The action of making something generally known.

    1.2 A book or journal issued for public sale.

  • The concrete usage 1.2 is not said to include CDs etc. Sep 30, 2017 at 12:37
  • @EdwinAshworth But the primary definition is said to include music.
    – Skooba
    Sep 30, 2017 at 12:40
  • No; the primary definition is 'the preparation and issuing of a book, journal, or piece of music for public sale' not 'a book, journal, or piece of music for public sale'. Sep 30, 2017 at 12:45
  • @EdwinAshworth I guess I don't understand what point you are trying to make? Are you saying a CD is not a publication?
    – Skooba
    Sep 30, 2017 at 12:51
  • I'm saying that your reference doesn't license this usage. (I'd never call a CD a 'publication' myself, though they go through the publication process. Just like I'd never call someone who prepares a scheme of work a 'schemer'.) Sep 30, 2017 at 13:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.