Sunday, February 10, 2008

What Do You Call a Group of Librarians?

It all started Friday morning with an innocent query to ExLibris by Columbia University Rare Books Librarian Jane Rodgers Siegel, whose husband had asked her what a group of librarians is called (you know, like a pride of lions). His own guess was "a quire of librarians." But that was just the beginning. The suggestions poured in over the course of the day. I include some of them here, with their contributors:

- shush of librarians (Robert Beasecker) ... or "a shoosh of librarians," which is, as Ashley Large noted, the 'official' Uncylopedia term.
- gathering of librarians (C.J. Scheiner, Martin Howley)
- fascicle of librarians (Eric White) ... someone later suggested this should only apply to serials librarians, while Jay Dillon added it might be used for temps.
- google of librarians (Eric White)
- sammelband of librarians (Eric White)
- collation of librarians (Fred Schreiber)
- bibliogeekerie of librarians (Merfyn Jones)
- classification of librarians (Steve Mauer)
- catalogue of librarians (Eric White)
- stack of librarians (Jane Wickenden)
- spectacle of librarians (David Anderson)

Edward Hoyenski, admitting "yes, I've had caffeine," suggested "a cutter of librarians," "a press of rare book librarians," "a subscription of serials librarians," "a search of reference librarians," and "a catalog of catalogers."

Kevin Mac Donnell went all out, even tossing in some timely references:
- folio of librarians (large group)
- duodecimo of librarians (small group)
- gauffering of librarians (fringe group)
- errata of librarians (a very dumb group)
- slug of book-thieves (very dumb book-thieves who appeal their sentence and get a longer sentence)
- collation of bibliographers
- pagination of cataloguers
- deckle of papermakers
- font of typesetters
- register of printers
- case of binders
- prospectus of publishers
- blurb of booksellers
- oozing of Roycroft imprints

It took a very long time for anyone to suggest the one a friend came up with instantly at work (collection of librarians). Another friend (the cynic) threw out "backlog of librarians" (harsh, but probably fair).

After quite a few hours of this, Jay Dillon quipped "Oh, I don't know. I rather liked the first one, 'a quire of librarians'. Thus, for example, certain contributors to this list have been preaching to the quire."


Peter K Steinberg said...

Do I know the cynic?

JBD said...

Better than anyone, yes.

Steve Lawson said...

Based on our clumping behavior on the streets of whatever unfortunate city is hosting the ALA Annual Conference, a friend of mine once suggested "clog of librarians."

dentduck said...

Since "librarian" is a four-syllable word, the best term of venery should be short, in, if possible...for the proper metrical flow and "punch". And notwithstanding the cleverness and contrivance of all these previously suggested words referring to what librarians now DO...or what librarian specialists now do...the word "librarian" means "a person of books". Not "made of books," of course, but "concerned with books". Well, actually, it means "a person of leaves or of bark," since papyrus and the like is what the earliest writings were recorded on. But, if we ignore the fact that the earliest libraries contained scrolls, we can focus on "the book" as we have come to understand its form, format and utilization, and then use that to come up with a self-referential word for a group of librarians. Although it's two syllables long, I think the most striking possibility would be a "Codex of Librarians". A one-syllable term, alternatively, would be "Tome". This latter proposition has the advantage that it is easily adjectivally modified for use in describing groups of different sizes. For example, a "Weighty Tome of Librarians" vs. a "Modest Tome of Librarians".

Dystopos said...

If you'll forgive the stereotype, I suggest "a shush of librarians"

Ethan Elias said...

An index of librarians?

Unknown said...

The inimitable James Lipton offers, in addition to a "sush" of librarians,

A Trove of Libraries

Followed by
A Brood of Researchers

(from An Exaltation of Larks, The Ultimate Edition - 1993). Thx to Ismoon for pulling the book off the shelf and looking it up :-)

Georgiana said...

I vote a 'Shh of librarians'