sobota, 27. november 2010

Issues on library terminology from the perspective of a German librarian

Gostujoče pero – Elisabeth Simon

Libraries, information professionals and their professional terminology is a topic without limits in time and space. Therefore it is no surprise that today the discussion about terminology has been revived. With the application of information technology in the library work and the information services, including the invasion of electronic media and library materials, the professional discussion about modern technical expressions is growing and becoming very complex. Multidisciplinary approach has become a rule, multilinguality as well. Aggressive domination of foreign expressions, as the sometimes peculiar germanised form of English or US American words, is demonstrating the familiar case of e.g. internet site. This is a German "mutation" of the English words in German pronunciation into Internetseite (internet page). Today we are laughing about the translation of French fiches (catalogue card) into fish and signature into signature, although the correct translation is cote. Expressions from the old German library terminology as hochlesen (which means being educated by reading) or Richtungsstreit (two concepts of public librarianship, ruling the professional discussion before World War 2) or Kitsch als kultureller Übergangswert (Kitsch leading to culture) are today unknown even to professionals. Also the Volksbücherei (1) (people’s library) lost its connection to people’s education in West Germany in the fifties and after some years in the former East Germany as well. In the United States however some expressions from the past time seem unusually up to date when e.g. during a conference about library buildings (44 years old) guidelines for a product evaluation are given, showing as in the product development program how the costs for an architect shall be evaluated (2). It may be a change for naming the clientele of the libraries, in previous times it was the reader, later the user(3) and the customer today. But in 1989 it was still the word consumer (4) expressing a more passive attitude of visitors coming into a library. In the Dictionary of Librarianship by Eberhard Sauppe (5) the term collection development can be located but the presently most used term resource development is not mentioned. These are some little and simple examples, which should stress the importance of terminology and which show us, that the application of terminology has its limits of application in time and region.


  1. Wolfgang Mühle: zum historischen Programm der allgemein Öffentlichen Bibliothek (AÖB). In: Zehn Jahre DDR, Zehn Jahre Allgemeine Öffentliche Bibliothek. Leipzig, 1959
  2. Guidelines for Library Planners. Proceedings of the Library Buildings and Equipment Institute. Chicago, 1960
  3. as in Manecke, H.-J., Rückl St. and K.H-. Tänzer: Informationsbedarf und Informationsnutzer. Leipzig, 1985. 144 p.
  4. Dictionary of Library and Information Science. English/German – German/English : Wörtberbuch der Bibliotheks- und Informationswissenschaft. Englisch/Deutsch - Deutsch/Englisch. Weinheim und N-.Y., 1989
  5. Eberhard Sauppe: Dictionary of Librarianship : Wörterbuch des Bibliothekswesens. München u.a., 1988

Fotografija deklice s knjigo, Vir: What gives 365

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