6 Terms that Instantly Reveal You as a Librarian

Few professions are as steeped in tradition and esoteric knowledge as librarianship. We have our own dialect packed with specialized jargon that only others in our vocation would understand. To decipher all of this we even have our own dictionary! And although we do our best to avoid most of these terms in casual conversation, there are times that we just can’t help but use them, and they unequivocally identify us as librarians. What terms and phrase have earned you confused looks?

 

1) Ephemera

ephemera

1: Items that are disposable or “short-lived” and usually collected by libraries for their graphic qualities or cultural significance such as menus, tickets, bookmarks, pamphlets, etc.
2: All that paper you’ve been meaning to clean out of your desk!

 

2) Primary Sources

primary

1: No one knows for sure.
2: One of the most frustrating phrases ever heard by an undergraduate, this refers to a publication (or even an unpublished work such as a diary) which gives a first-hand account of an event or subject including newspaper clippings, interviews, transcripts, etc.

 

3) Monograph

monograph

1: A book. Specifically one that is meant to be read sequentially, from cover to cover as opposed to a reference work such as a dictionary or encyclopedia.
2: Non-librarians may think you’re referring to getting your initials sewn on to an article of clothing at the mall.

 

4) Provenance

provenance

1: The history of ownership of a particular book, manuscript, or work of art.
2: Tracing and authenticating the provenance of a rare book is EXACTLY like the plot of The Ninth Gate, except without all the intrigue, danger, supernatural activities, high budget, and Johnny Depp.

 

5) Z39.50

z3950

1: One of the battle droids in Star Wars that never made it out of the Battle of Utapau.
2: A protocol used to search remote databases, usually to retrieve cataloging records.

 

6) Shh!

shh

1: A directive issued by librarians since ancient times that commands instant silence from all in attendance.
2: May be used in the library setting as well as in everyday interactions, assuming the person invoking the shh! is indeed a librarian.

 

Please add your own!!!