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Created and Maintained by
A.B. Credaro
November 12, 2002



In the struggle to maintain credibility in contemporary society, libraries need to adopt a new set of incomprehensible terminology with sufficient pizzazz to develop a patina of respect."

ABSORPTION POINT: During market trading, securities are absorbed when there are corresponding orders to buy and sell. In libraries, refers to the area of carpet underneath overwatered potted plants, or in carpet inside the front door in wet weather.

AMAZONED: Originally referring to losing business to a, now refers to libraries whose circulation figures are falling - due to patrons who are only interested in using the computers, rather than borrowing books or other non-digital resources.

B2B: Previously used for 'business to business' transactions, this term describes the "Busy, Busy Bee" approach that sees sixty books pulled off the shelves and left stacked on tables - whilst the user searches for some vital piece of information that doesn't exist in any of the places they've looked.

BANNER ADVERTISING: The use of very large signs in libraries (eg Reference, Information, etc). Subsitution of this term for signage synonyms is recommended on budget submissions - if it sounds hi-tech, you're more likely to get the money.

BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION: Often used in Sci-Fi and action-adventure genre material, biometric devices identify, or authenticate, computer users by their unique biological characteristics, such as fingerprints, retinas and irises. However, has been in use by libraries for ages for patrons who don't bring their borrower cards with them - by stating their name, and confirming their ID with their phone number or address.

DATA HYGENE: In business, refers to the process of "cleaning up" the data for marketing purposes. In libraries, it means removing food scraps (eg apple cores or candy wrappers) that have been used as bookmarks in reference materials.

DIGITAL SIGNAL: Updated terminology for communication by patron denied borrowing or usage rights - previously known by a number of synonymous phrases such as 'flipping the bird'.

DEFFERED MAINTAINANCE: Beyond the library scenario, the term means to delay repairs until a suitable time. Within library organizations, is synonymous with the term “just learn to live with it”.

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY: A phrase coined by Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School to describe any technology that overturns a traditional business model, in libraries it is applied to cell phones with stupid ring tones, and Walkmans/Discmans that emit that chuumm-chuumm-chuumm noise that drives everyone crazy.

ENCRYPTION: Generally, the process of protecting information by scrambling it into an unreadable format. Currently, the excuse used for non-sensical term papers that have been created by multiple plagiarism without any attempt to link unrelated pieces of text. (As in "It's encrypted sir - that's why it doesn't seem to make any sense.")

INFORMEDIARY: A hybrid of 'information' and 'intermediary' coined by John Hagel and Marc Singer in their 1999 book Net Worth, it describes a middleman-between consumer and vendor. Previously called a Librarian.

KAROSHI: A Japanese term; when translated it means "work death." It's used to describe people who literally work themselves to death or have a heart attack while working, etc. Apparently, a fairly common occurrence in that country. Same meaning in library usage.

KAITZEN: One of the Deming-related terms meaning "continual improvement". In libraries, can be substituted for the combined processes of culling and acquisition - which produces the desired outcomes. Heavily budget-dependent for success.

MICRO EXPRESSIONS: Originally a quick, instinctual expression that can now be detected by a computer designed by the Balk Institute of Biological Studies. Librarians have been using these in a subtle way for millenia, but they used to be called 'expletives'.

OPEN SOURCE NETWORKING: The removal of the top of ketsup bottles at library social functions. Used to explain why a librarian cannot undertake overtime or extra duties, as in "I'm sorry, I have an open source networking commitment at that time."

OPTIONAL BENEFITS: A new way to recruit and retain high information technology professionals. Optional benefits, also called voluntary or ancillary benefits, are a popular perk for big-company employees, and are now starting to show up at small companies as well. Employees are offered an easy way to purchase—often at a discount—a variety of financial services, such as automobile insurance and life insurance. It costs the company virtually nothing if working through the right service providers, but employees can save as much as 20% on auto insurance. As yet unknown in areas employing information science professionals.

PARADIGM SHIFT: Term generally used to indicate a change in outlook; in libraries, indicates an alteration in placement of librarians’ desks in relation to windows and doors.

REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE: First used to describe the means by which software and hardware components are organized and interact; now refers to the shelves that contain dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, etc.

"The Little Kid Effect": Technology companies have long considered that the biggest challenge they will face in the future is not their highly publicized competition, but from "the little kid effect" (stemming from the 10-year-old who invents the next killer app for the Web down in his basement). Libraries use this term to describe that strange smell over in the picture book section, often traced to a damp patch on the carpet.

THIN CLIENT: Originally used to describe computer networks where files and programs reside on a server; now also refers to anorexic library patrons who borrow diet books.

THIRD PARTY LOGISTICS: In business, this is the movement of goods or services by neither the provider or the consumer. In libraries, it is the return of material by someone other than the original borrower; often another library (where books have been dumped for convenience), or a child’s grandmother. Forth Party Logistics is when the grandmother returns the book, but to the wrong library.

To correctly cite this page:
Credaro,A.B.(2002). Library Buzzwords. Warrior Librarian Weekly [online] [Accessed:insert date]