Library Language: Vocabulary for the Modern Librarian

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Speakers: Beth Ardner, Manager of Distributor Relations, Credo Reference; Deirdre Costello, Associate Platform Manager, Credo Reference

The age of librarians toiling away in dust and silence is long over - if it ever existed at all. Librarians are in touch with different groups almost constantly, and librarianship today requires some serious communication skills. Whether it's other librarians, administrators, users, publishers or vendors, librarians have to juggle several different vocabularies to make sure they're communicating as clearly as possible.
We'd like to draw on our sales, publishing, usability and web design experience to help build some guidelines and answer questions about communicating with some of these groups. This seminar will focus specifically on communicating with publishers, vendors and users, but we'd love to hear what you have to say about communication in libraries!

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Library Language: Vocabulary for the Modern Librarian

  1. 1. Library LanguageVocabularies for the Modern LibrarianDeirdre Costello Beth ArdnerAssociate Platform Manager Manager, Distributor RelationsCredo Reference Credo Referencedeirdre.costello@credoreference.com beth.ardner@credoreference.com
  2. 2. Communication. Is it: 1.A library issue? 2.An institutional issue? 3.A community issue?What are some communication issuesin your library? Do they reach beyondthe library?
  3. 3. Common Frustrations• Difference in expectations• Difference in opinion• Perception of terms used• Misunderstandings
  4. 4. The So WhatThe primary purpose of libraries isto provide INFORMATION to theircommunities. Misunderstandings mean they cant function.
  5. 5. Who are we talking to?• Users/Patrons • Other libraries• Administrators • Publishers/vendors• IT/Tech • Board of Trustees Support • Other• Other librarians stakeholders?
  6. 6. How are we talking?Direct Indirect • Email • Reports • Phone • Signage • In person • Website • Chat • Body language
  7. 7. Our Focus. Deirdre: Users Beth: Vendors • Examples • Best Practices • Your storieshttp://www.walkingpaper.org/5104
  8. 8. Examples: SignageSignage is metadata aboutlibrarians: it reflects attitudes,priorities and assumptions aboutusers.What do the following say?
  9. 9. http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/passive-aggressive-library-signs/
  10. 10. http://www.walkingpaper.org/5104
  11. 11. Current Research • • Average user success rate for finding articles: 52%* • Improving vocabulary and writing choices can increase success by 124%** *Kupersmith, J. (2012). Library Terms That Users Understand. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3qq499w7?goback=.gde_687427_member_160788971#page-1 **Nielsen, Jakob. (1997). How Users Read on the Web. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html
  12. 12. Current ResearchWords commonly misunderstood by library users:• Acronyms & brand names • Periodical or Serial• Database • Reference• Library Catalog • Resource• E-journals • Subject categories• Index such as Humanities• Interlibrary Loan or Social Sciences Kupersmith, J. (2012). Library Terms That Users Understand. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3qq499w7?goback=.gde_687427_member_160788971#page-1
  13. 13. Best Practices: UsersUnderstand your users. • Comments, observations • Catalog and website search logs • Interviews, focus groups
  14. 14. Best Practices: UsersUse natural and active language.• "OPAC" becomes "Find Books"• "Databases" becomes "Find Articles"• "ILL" becomes "Borrowing from Other Libraries"
  15. 15. Best Practices: UsersBe consistent. This is harder than itseems! • Consistent terms • Consistent symbols • Consistent design
  16. 16. Best Practices: VendorsThe same rules for users apply here. • Vendors are users too • They dont know every library term • Use natural language, straightforward terms, and avoid acronyms and brands.
  17. 17. Best Practices: VendorsBe direct. • Vendors aim to please and want to know what you need. • They are in the business of customer service. • You know your library best.
  18. 18. Best Practices: VendorsShare your vocabularies. • Vendors have to know corporate vocabularies. • Ask questions - learn their terminology and share yours. • All businesses have their own unique internal vocabulary.
  19. 19. For Example...Try out these terms from within thebook industry: • Service Recovery • Independent Reader • SPO • IPT • TTF • BINC
  20. 20. Other Areas?Tell us about your experiences! • Does your library have a policy on language and vocabulary that you would be willing to share? • What are your experiences with other stakeholders? • Administrators • IT/Tech Support • Board of Trustees • Others?
  21. 21. ConclusionCommunication is key to the success of the library. Lets continue the conversation!
  22. 22. ResourcesLibrary Terms that Users Understand:http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3qq499w7Plain Language: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/Walking Paper: http://www.walkingpaper.org/Useit.com, Jakob Nielsens website: http://www.useit.com/In particular, his article on How Users Read on the Web:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.htmlSignage - better none than bad:http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/columns/my-mind/signage-better-none-badPassive-aggressive library signs:http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/passive-aggressive-library-
  23. 23. Thank You!

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