A lot of passionate people seemed to be commenting last week. I noticed one easily incensed person was “disappointed” to find opinions she so strongly disagreed with published at the Library Journal.
One would think she should be excited to find a public forum to defend her sacred cows. I bet there are librarians for whom the highlight of their work day is thinking they’ve set the record straight about something they read online. That always feels good.
However, I’ve noticed over the years there’s a minority of librarians who would rather quash dissenting voices than have to go out of their way to read them for free.
Although I’m sure they would protest that they don’t want to censor dissenting views; they just don’t want those dissenting views published anywhere people might actually read them. A subtle distinction.
But on to the burning question of the day: what should we start calling libraries instead of “libraries”? There must be a better name.
After all, libraries are reinventing themselves, with “books out and 3D printers in.” Since the word “library” is derived from the Latin word for “book,” having a library without books seems a little silly.
Oh, I know the term has expanded. You can have an iTunes library, for example. But it does usually still mean a collection of something organized so that you can find it.
An iTunes library is such a collection, but is a maker space?
If “libraries are no longer the domain of shooshing librarians,” and are instead for artists and knitters to congregate, then why still call them libraries? That just sounds archaic, and above all librarians seek to be hip and relevant.
So we need a new name for libraries, something that captures the spirit of all this reinventioness.
“Community center” might do. That’s bland enough to mean almost anything, but it’s also too bland to promote. People like libraries. There’s no historical good feelings about “community centers.” Those are places where kids with no other place to go hang out, or maybe people congregate in if there’s a weather disaster.
Part of the problem is that as libraries reinvent themselves, it’s never clear what they want to become. The only thing the reinventions seem to have in common is that libraries want to be all things to all people.
Will 3D printers get people in the door? Then buy some! Sewing machines? Toss out the books and put some in.
However, that does help point us toward a name. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and by that I meant I went to Google Translate and tried to find the Latin for a “place for all things for all people.” We have to go with Latin to keep the symmetry with “library.”
Google gave me “omnia in omnis locus.” I’m not sure if that’s exactly right, but it’s good enough. We’re making words here, not trying to pass exams in ancient languages. However, we need to make a single noun of that somehow.
I suggest Omnilocus, with the plural being Omniloci. It’s the “all things place.”
I think it’s even got a ring to it. “Yeah, I headed over to the omnilocus to get a shoeshine and a DVD of Coneheads.”
The great thing about it is that we don’t have to hear any more talk about reinventing it. There’s not a couple thousand years of history behind the omniloci.
I Googled “omnilocus,” and found only 63 hits, some of them in languages I don’t even recognize. Even to find those I had to break out some Google judo, because it kept wanting to give me results for “omnifocus.”
Thus, it will be a century at least before any pundits write something like, “The omnilocus is no longer the domain of scurrying omnilocians [the people who run omniloci].”
Even that might not happen, because if a place is identified a a place for all things for all people, as adaptive to the needs of everyone in the community equally whatever they are, then how could it really ever go out of date? The Omnilocus would never have to reinvent itself!
I hope all you budding omnilocians out there are please with the result. You don’t have to worry about stereotypes anymore. There will never be any news articles with pictures of your clothing and the headline “not your traditional omnilocian anymore.”
By the way, I haven’t decided if the “c” in “omnilocus” and “omnilocian” should be hard or soft. You can decide for yourself until the matter is settled by common usage. I suggest hard for the place, soft for the person. So phonetically, omnilokus and omniloshun.
The omnilocus is a new thing in the world, and the omnilocian a new creature with no history, no baggage, and no expectations. No one can ever say, “I didn’t go to omnilocian school to do this!”
Fare well, omnilocians, you have a brave new world to conquer.