Naming opportunities

[warning: retrospection ahead]

In a longish and intermittently productive professional writing career, I have had lots of opportunities to come up with titles for publications. With variable results.

Some I like. Full disclosure captured, I thought, the gist of the report to which it is attached [pdf]. This was a study into the extent of the retrospective catalog conversion challenge in UK libraries and archives. The rationale was similar to the 'hidden collections' discussion. If the existence of particular collections is not disclosed, they may not be discovered, and their value to research and learning is diminished.

Some were awful. A Utopian place of criticism? was a rather opaque title for a rather dense article. It is an example of the strained literary allusion that is more of an indulgence for the authors than a helpful hook for the reader.

Some were mis-timed. Libraries, networks and OSI was a well-received contribution. Despite the advice of colleagues, I was reluctant to drop OSI from the title because a lot of work had gone into the OSI bits. As it turns out I should have heeded the advice. Interest in OSI had peaked and gone into decline by the time the second edition came out. Its impact would have been greater if it had been called Libraries and networks, or somesuch: OSI got in the way.

Note 1: An early lesson in the importance of brand.
Note 2: How many current readers know what OSI was ;-)

Anyway, this nostalgic note was prompted by the appearance on my desk of No brief candle: reconceiving research libraries for the 21st Century [pdf] [worldcat] from CLIR which despite the strained literary allusion in its title has some interesting contributions to which I will no doubt return in these pages.

Comments: 4

Sep 18, 2008
John Kirriemuir

Huh? A quick web search shows that OSI stands for Ordnance Survey Ireland, as in the maps ( I guess with the advent of Tom Tom, GPS and similar devices, the interest in maps has indeed peaked and gone into decline.


Sep 18, 2008
walt crawford

Raises hand: Yes, I know what OSI was in the library and related fields. Open Systems Interconnection, ISO 7498 (I included it in Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, which is how I could find the ISO number).

For that matter, I think it was the very first LITA National Conference where the Fuzzy Match Interest Group put on a musical version of the Seven Layers of OSI as the banquet's entertainment.

Great theoretical elegance--but TCP/IP was an unstoppable steamroller.

Sep 19, 2008
Tom Roper

Me too...heard you speak on it once. Not that I understood it very well, though that reflects on me, not on your presentation.

Sep 19, 2008
Lorcan Dempsey

@Tom .. well, it was not the easiest thing to talk about in the absence of lots of working examples ;-)