Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's In A Name

creative commons search "name"
As someone who has a background in feminist studies, I know that the naming of things is important.  There is a power in a name, and politics exist within the realm of naming as well.

What does this have to do with libraries and librarianship? Quite a bit.

When I was in library school back in the mid 90s, my graduate school was going through reaccreditation.  One of the issues on the table was renaming the school.  On the table was changing the degree from a Masters in Library and Information Studies to a Masters in Information Studies.  Heated debates ensued, but at the end of it all, the students felt that it was really important to leave the word library in the title of the degree.

In the world of school libraries, after a stint of media centers, it seems that the term of favor now is Information Commons.  My response to this is that I think that the very idea of information commons is implicit in the idea of libraries.  I do understand that the term IC is probably much sexier when it comes to funding. Whenever I tell folks I am a school librarian I usually get a chuckle and nudge and told either I don't look like a librarian, or asked if I still teach Dewey.  I know if I told them I was worked in an information commons in an academic setting I might get a little more respect.  I find myself, however, sticking to the terms library and librarian.

Trust me, I have done plenty of reflection regarding whether or not I am simply becoming one of those "GET OFF MY LAWN" people.  I really don't think that is it.  I don't think that I am clinging to something that is outdated.  Rather, I think that folks really need to broaden their view of what it means to be a librarian and work in a library.

What do you think is in a name?

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

My own personal children are HIGHLY offended when someone calls me a "media specialist". I think THAT term brings to mind filmstrip projectors and overhead transparencies. Haven't heard Information Commons, but I like it even less. Luckily, my school still let's me concentrate on books, so I am, in fact, a librarian. Information Specialist just sounds... Jargony.