Jargon

Library jargon explained: a resource at Swansea University Library and Information Services. Good that they have provided this? Bad that we need it?

Call number - The call number, the number placed on the spine of a book, is a code which provides information about the subject of the book and its location in the library. Books are arranged by subject so that you can find other similar books nearby. Our finding, borrowing and reserving page has more information. In the Swansea University libraries we use Library of Congress classification. [Swansea University - Glossary A - L]

Comments: 3

Jan 24, 2008
Peter

Someone once said that libraries are the only service that requires the user to adopt another language (i.e. Dewey) in order to use it. Which is a bit of a barrier, really!

Jan 24, 2008
Peter Murray

Even before becoming a card-carrying member of the librarian community, I thought that call numbers were a good idea. It wasn't that hard to be taught how to find a book given a somewhat arbitrary string of numbers and letters, and the scheme did/does the job it set out to do. (Working as a page for the Worthington Public Library, I did have to learn a bit more about some of the more esoteric rules, but even that wasn't too complicated for a high schooler.)

"Call Number" is a part of the library service paradigm. It is sort of like making use of a shoe store. First I find what section I need to be in ("men's shoes" as compared with "non-fiction") then the right part of the section ("size 11" as compared to "649.21"). To me, "size 11" is just as arbitrary an identifier for shoes as "649.21" is for books.

Feb 01, 2008
Leo Klein

Actually it was the definition of "Acobat" that blew me away (joke).

To be fair, librarianship isn't the only profession giving to excessive (obsessive?) over-explaining.

That said, I once was working at a library where one of the librarians actually wanted us to put up a vocabulary list like this.

I refused saying it might be a better idea to ditch the jargon and communicate in standard English instead.

The librarian stormed out of my office in disgust.