6 Terms that Instantly Reveal You as a Librarian

Few professions are as steeped in tradition and esoteric knowledge as librarianship. We have our own dialect packed with specialized jargon that only others in our vocation would understand. To decipher all of this we even have our own dictionary! And although we do our best to avoid most of these terms in casual conversation, there are times that we just can’t help but use them, and they unequivocally identify us as librarians. What terms and phrase have earned you confused looks?


1) Ephemera


1: Items that are disposable or “short-lived” and usually collected by libraries for their graphic qualities or cultural significance such as menus, tickets, bookmarks, pamphlets, etc.
2: All that paper you’ve been meaning to clean out of your desk!


2) Primary Sources


1: No one knows for sure.
2: One of the most frustrating phrases ever heard by an undergraduate, this refers to a publication (or even an unpublished work such as a diary) which gives a first-hand account of an event or subject including newspaper clippings, interviews, transcripts, etc.


3) Monograph


1: A book. Specifically one that is meant to be read sequentially, from cover to cover as opposed to a reference work such as a dictionary or encyclopedia.
2: Non-librarians may think you’re referring to getting your initials sewn on to an article of clothing at the mall.

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