Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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What’s in a name?

Posted by lpearle on 8 April 2009

A lot, if you’re a librarian. You see, those of us that work in schools are (per AASL official language) not librarians, we’re school library media specialists. That this comes from the American Association of School Librarians is, to me, a little suspect. We don’t have a Library Media Center of Congress, and I know no academic library media specialists.

Recently, on LM_NET, I read the subject line “media cuts” – I honestly thought that we were talking about the problems the real media (newspapers, television) were having given the increase in on-line media content. No, they were talking about staffing in librarieslibrary media centers.

From Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: 2media
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural me·di·as
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: plural of medium
Date: 1923

1: a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression ; especially : medium 2b2 a singular or plural in construction : mass media
b plural : members of the mass media
usage The singular media and its plural medias seem to have originated in the field of advertising over 70 years ago; they are apparently still so used without stigma in that specialized field. In most other applications media is used as a plural of medium. The great popularity of the word in references to the agencies of mass communication is leading to the formation of a mass noun, construed as a singular [there’s no basis for it. You know, the news media gets on to something — Edwin Meese 3d] [the media is less interested in the party’s policies — James Lewis, Guardian Weekly]. This use is not as well established as the mass-noun use of data and is likely to incur criticism especially in writing.

Outside our division of ALA, no one reads or hears “media” and leaps to “library”. So let’s just rejoin the other divisions, ok? After all, Rutgers isn’t dropping “media” from the name of their school.

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4 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Aravis said

    It seems to me to be an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd. It’s almost a PC term, without being PC. Weird.

  2. Elisabeth Abarbanel said

    I am a librarian. I always will be. “School library media specialist” is just too long. It is an old discussion, but one I feel strongly about. I have an MLS. I belong to ALA. Librarain.

  3. Elisabeth Abarbanel said

    i guess I should spell it right.. 🙂

  4. […] the use of jargon in addition to an acronym that confuses people and turns them off.   For years, school librarians were called “library media specialists” and some of us resented losing the title “librarian” because it separated us from other […]

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