Overuse syndrome

A lot of jargon by kevinspencer via flickr CC

I’m a bit behind catching up with RSS feeds of some of the blogs I follow – I KNOW the ‘mark all read’ button is really handy and I do use it for plenty of my subscriptions, but I usually find Roy Tennant interesting so I saved that one from the all powerful delete button and today I read his 7 words or phrases to never say or write again (written some time back in March).

I laughed in an ironic, slightly bitter kind of way at his list of 7, as many of these jargon-ish terms have been topics of discussion on blogs and twitter feeds among my network of library folk as well.  As a recent library school graduate, I can report we studiously learned the terms OPAC, bibliographic instruction and copy cataloguing in my course. True story.  As a way of communicating with people outside of libraryland (ie everyone ELSE  – our customers, other staff in our organisation, our families and the average person on the street), they are right up there with information literacy training and my personal favourite, circulation desk . You can still buy signs that say ‘Circulation desk’ to hang in your library. Also a true story.

The more I ponder this issue, the more I wonder. Do we only use these terms among ourselves? Is it an attempt to bring a precision of language into our conversations? After all, other library folk know what we mean by information literacy or the OPAC.  We sometimes spell out for our customers that which we can shorthand among ourselves with jargon or specialised language. If we’re not inflicting that on the general public, does it really  matter?


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