Monday, August 6, 2007

Is this a datum I see before me?

In the scheme of things, we may have more important work to do than debating what we call things. Nevertheless, we ignore naming our services at our peril: naming is an essential part of defining and marketing what we do. The famous warning that ""A map is not the territory" notwithstanding, you don't have to study sympathetic magic or semantics to know that names have power and often frame and define what we do. Jeff Scott, over at Gather No Dust, notes in passing:

"We are trying to promote all of our new databases at my library. (Let me add that I am aware that we should have a better name for databases, right now, that is the handle we are using. Patrons can figure it out for now. )"
He links to the discussion on the Library Garden blog, which states rather unequivocally:
we need to stop calling databases, databases and do it now! More like do it yesterday!
I am not altogether convinced and posted the following comment:
"Research tools" is what our consortial online catalog calls them, which is an improvement over what we use on our website: "Magazines, Newspapers, Indexes and Full-test Resources".

You know, "Databases" is not such an awful word. Webster says database means "a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)."

I think it's descriptive, succinct and not jargon. I think it's a struggle to find an alternative because there is no good obvious one, or we'd all be using it. But "research tools" is a good second.
So what do y'all think?


Jeff Scott said...

Database is the only one word description I can think of. Every other description just sounds like the internet. Electronic resources, online resources, online articles, etc. etc. :)