Reading a post from  World’s Strongest Librarian this morning, I was struck by the issue of communication in all its forms.  Essentially, Josh (WSL) is cautioning us to listen to the question before we leap in to answer it, thinking that we know what they are asking.  Often our own prejudices, judgements and experiences combine to give us what we THINK is the context – which doesn’t allow room for the other person to set their own context. There is a technique in the psycotherapy and coaching world called Clean Language that attempts to address these issues and I do not pretend to know anything more about it than I have read on those few pages.

However, the concept of ‘clean language’ in the sense of being clear, unambiguous and therefore unlikely to cause confusion fascinates me.  As I posted yesterday, I am in the process of writing a glossary of library terms for the moodle course in information literacy at MPOW.  There are dozens of glossaries available on the interwebs (and I have freely adapted and cribbed from most of them), so why am I going to the trouble of writing my own?  Simply, the students at MPOW are all international students and most of the glossaries out there make assumptions about knowledge that I know my students don’t have.  Back to ‘clean language’ – the more I read and adapt for the student population here, the more aware I am of the jargon we use unthinkingly in libraryland.

Everyday I face the challenge of writing for and speaking to our students in a way that doesn’t set out to confuse them, yet is respectful of their intelligence, articulate-ness and well read backgrounds – just not in my language.  My motto is K.I.S.S.

image: communication by krossbow via flickr

3 responses

  1. the top library jargons I hate most are: Check out, check in, maybe borrow and return are equally bad….

    1. Yep! And I read a comment somewhere once (wish I could remember where!) about why we call ‘that big desk’ the circulation desk, when circulation means nothing to the average library user….

  2. lol there are so many. patron being the most obvious!

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