Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Semantic resources of the English language

"Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic" - This is probably one of my favourite quotes about books by Carl Sagan. Books obviously are made up of words and even small numbers of words together can hold great power. As an outsider looking in the CILIP (chartered institute of library and information professionals) re-branding exercise, I find it odd they don't seem to recognise the two most powerful words that inspire trust, neutrality and knowledge. From the Library of Alexandria of the ancient world to Carnegie Libraries in more recent times, the word library has always has a magic to it, the profession of librarian is trusted and respected in the same way as Doctor is. For CILIP to suggest dropping library from their name is madness in my view. Library is the best brand word they can have. Yes library is derived from books and the profession and those they represent is more than that, but meanings of words can change over time but still retain their magic and power. Equally use too many words to describe something and that power is lost, cutting right across culture, short names and phrases have always stuff in the mind. Sadly there seems to be such much jargon, a lot of it long winded entering the public libraries arena. For example there is the "For all Health Living Centre Library" in North Somerset which is a hideous name, then there are other examples of where they are making things worse but pretending they're something new or exciting by doing a re-brand, things like:
Knowledge Hubs
Community Libraries
Hacker Spaces
Technology Learning Centre
Innovation Incubators

This is just some of the names that they call libraries now, there are different permutations of the above and in some cases they denote libraries that are doing other things on top of their traditional role. But really, the magic is lost for me, I just want to go to my local library and I don't care if the staff member in there is a library manager or assistant, to my mind they are a librarian, chartership, qualification or not. The problem is politicians in Westminster and some councillors and senior civil servants can be stupid people with little or no experience of the real world and they are impressed by blue sky jargon because they don't understand the power of libraries and librarians. Again this is another failure at the top of the library profession to make these people aware of the value of libraries and librarians. Knowledge is power, it’s a well-worn adage, and while things will always change, including the meaning of words, they will always retain power, we don't need all this extra jargon and blue sky nonsense, libraries are one of the most powerful brand names there is.

Hat tip to @wylie_alan as he spotted the "For all Health Living Centre Library" and has been creating a jargon glossary here

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