Library according to the dictionary.

This is linked to my post “What does it mean to be a librarian?”

As librarians we love a good reference tool and what better than the dictionary. A guide to the meaning of words!

I was really interested in people’s responses to my questions about libraries and librarians and the interest students in my class have in the library as a service. However, there is this perception among us that people may not fully grasp the reality of the 21st century library. (Yes, Terry Deary, you are one of these people!) So I thought to myself why is there this gap between what we as librarians think of as the functions of our roles and the libraries we work in, and what the public and media perception of libraries and librarians might be. This post is focused on libraries and I’m hoping to get some feedback and write some more about librarians in the future.

So, I decided to look up the word “library” in the dictionary to get the definition.

First, my old friend, The Oxford English.  Have a look for yourself and you will see that it is almost exclusively focused on books.

Then Dictionary.com does go as far as to say it refers to the public body organising and maintaining such an establishment.

In fact the Urban Dictionary gave the best definitions as far as I’m concerned.

“An awesome place that is underrated in this society” by Adel7

“A building that enables people to have access to computers, books, magazines, videos, dvds, etc. Where Librarians and Library Support Workers help people find the information they need.” By ldchills

These are just two of the good ones; there are a few pretty dodgy interpretations in there as well but it’s just a little bit upsetting to me that the Urban Dictionary may be more relevant than the OED on this one.

When will the perceptions change? When will the word “library” encompass all that a library truly is in the 21st century?