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Inside Annoyed Librarian

What to Call the Group

What do you call a group of librarians? It’s like the beginning of a joke, like how many librarians does it take to change a light bulb.

There are probably lots of answers to that one, but I can’t think of any. I’ve never changed a light bulb in my library because I’m not the light bulb librarian. So I guess my answer would be “zero.”

The easy answer to the first question is “group,” but one group of school librarians in Alaska decided they were a “force.” The rationale for that label is curious,

We are a force because we foster inclusion, inquiry, collaboration, curation, engagement and exploration in the library. We are a force because libraries are the original centers for personalized learning, places where students ask questions and find answers, engage in creativity and collaboration, and harness critical thinking skills as they learn to evaluate sources, synthesize and communicate.

That really is the whole rationale for using “force.” It’s like they don’t understand what English words mean.

When I saw that they “foster” things and are “original” centers, I considered that maybe FORCE was an acronym, but I couldn’t find anything for the R, C, and E to do.

There are three possible Cs – creativity, collaboration, and critical – but they don’t fit well into the scheme because they’re not something the librarians do. E could be evaluate, but same problem. No R in sight.

Come to think of it, the librarians aren’t “original” anything either, at least in this rationalization. That’s the libraries.

And there’s nothing that the librarians are actually forcing. It just doesn’t make any darn sense, and I probably thought about it in the first place because librarians love bad acronyms.

“Force” has no clear rationale behind it, so what to call a group of librarians, besides “a group of librarians”?

For some reason “gaggle” comes to mind. Maybe that’s what I’ve used in the past.

But do librarians honk a lot and travel in V-shaped formations? There’s not much positive about geese unless you’re eating one. The negative, according to the internet, is goose droppings.

Thus, I would expect a gaggle of librarians to talk loudly and leave a mess behind them, which is sort of the opposite of the librarian stereotype.

Other suggested terms have been “stack” and “catalog,” but those don’t make much sense unless the librarians were regularly piled on top of one another or organized in a universal way.

It can’t just be a term associated with libraries or librarians, or else we could have a MaRC of librarians, or a Cutter Number of librarians, but it should be a term associated with librarians.

If our criteria are terms associated with libraries or librarians that also means a group of something, there seems to be only one logical answer: a collection.

Things libraries purchase, organize, and make available to people are collections.

A Collection of Librarians? Unlike “force” it actually makes some sense, but it doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue.

Technically, if I’m ever asked, I’ll say a “collection of librarians,” but I’ll probably just keep thinking “group,” because librarians don’t need a special name for themselves when they’re together. There’s enough cutesy nonsense in the profession already.

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Comments

  1. Pegasus Librarian says:

    A shush. A shush of librarians.

  2. Peter Ward says:

    Totally agree with AL. Way too much frivilous goings-on in the profession. Time to call out those who engage in such fluff. Wait, I think you just did!

  3. anonymous coward says:

    What do you call a group of engineers? Or teachers? Or sanitation workers? We aren’t a different species! sometimes I hate us.

  4. sciencereader says:

    A “force” of librarians brings to mind the term “armed forces”–which brings to mind the previous blog post, “A Good Librarian with a Gun.”

  5. Quiet Punster says:

    Thank you, Pegasus Librarian, for saying what I was thinking throughout this article.

  6. carl jacobs says:

    A Pod of Librarians?

  7. Relatively Peaceful says:

    I don’t mind the “rah rah” chant/rant of the Alaskan school librarians. School librarians are an endangered bunch. I would want to think of myself as a force when faced with the powerful adversary of The Bottom Line or the “Who needs critical thinking, anyway” crowd or whatever it is that’s wiping out school libraries.

    However, I’d love to come up with a name that succinctly describes both the janitor and the book-pusher aspects of my job!

  8. Caroline says:

    When I was a library assistant I used to joke: “What do you call a group of Librarians?” “A Committee.”

  9. FinallyaLibrarian says:

    I think it should be “committee!”

  10. Glenn Irvine says:

    I’m the light bulb librarian. The director once referred to me as ‘bulb boy’

  11. That Boney Library says:

    “I am not a committee!”

  12. I wish I could thumbs up your post. I was thinking the same thing.

  13. I like a Shelf of librarians, but Collection makes a lot of sense too.

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