Thursday, 25 February 2010

words, words, and more words

words from the post, via Wordle This post about the term graphic novel reminded me that I've been meaning to write something about the vagaries of terminology.

I'm British, but working primarily with American students, so that's one language divide right there, but I've been talking with various people about library management systems recently, which throws up a whole other array of library-specific terminology choices.

"I want to to borrow / loan / check out / book out / take out this thing, so I'll use the self-check / self-issue / self-service machine or point or station."
"Someone else has an item out at the moment, so I'll request / recall / reserve / book / trap / wait-list it."
"The book we all need to read for our paper is in the reference / reserve / non-circulating / no-loan / closed section, so no one can take it away."

At least renew is pretty stable, although I have heard 're-check'!

It would be invaluable to know which terminology is the most meaningful for our specific users, but it's hard to get that kind of feedback - I suspect most people really don't give it that much thought. Common questions and misconceptions do provide some clues, though - something to use as the basis of experimental changes, at least.

Which terms do you use? Anything else to add to the lists, or ones that you'd never heard before?

* Photo by , used under Creative Commons, with thanks.


Jennifer said...

1) Borrow or check or out
2) Dunno, never used one. Self-service as a general term, then maybe self-check as a specific one
3) Reserve
4) Reference section, definitely.

Miss Alice said...

@ Jennifer : Self-service is definitely a broader term - I think Westminster Public Libraries calls their units 'self-service', because you can borrow or return items, pay fines etc - they're super-swish machines!

Meredith said...

Just to make things more complicated, in my uni library "reference" and "reserve" are two different things! (Although both are non-circulating to minimal-circulating - 2hr to 24hr loans at best, with amazingly high fees when late).

Miss Alice said...

@ Meredith - so Reference are books that stay in the reading room / library, and Reserve are the short loans? Or something more mixed than that?

Christine said...

ateful to the graphic novel poster for the more comprehensive term "sequential art". Apart from anythingg else, not all graphic "novels" are fiction. But then the whole art thing causes problems in a literary setting like a library or a bookshop, because people take "art" to mean "painting, drawing and sculpture" rather than Art in the sense of a product of creativity....