Friday, March 7, 2014

Library Jargon

It is common knowledge that library jargon can sometime be an impediment to public service and user access to information. But who would think that interpretations of some of them can be both amusing and at time embarrassing. The other day a student asked me; “What is Stacks-Calculating?” It took me a few seconds to realize that he meant ‘Stacks-Circulating’. He probably was baffled by the idea of something called ‘Stacks’ be combined with ‘Circulating’, which is not possible. ‘Stacks’ and ‘Calculating’ makes more sense. Hence, the question was worded that way.

Why the library world uses the term ‘stacks’ is a mystery to me also. Would it be easier for everybody to understand without an extensive explanation if we use ‘shelves’? Not only that, do we know how this term has been used? For example, Urban Dictionary defines ‘Stacks’ as an obscured place to have sex. “Take him to the stack”’ implies that “sexual actions are desired between an employee and a non-employee, usually a patron, in a public library.” A regular user of Urban Dictionary gives the meaning of ‘Stacks’ as “a section of the library that is rarely used, such as the history section. It is an ideal location for sex”. I think if we use the term ‘Shelves’ instead, it would discourage anybody from coming up with such a ‘disrespectful’ interpretation. It would be quite difficult to picture somebody performs such activities on a shelf.

By Kultida Dunagin

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