16 Apr I’m a librarian What’s Your Superpower
I’m a librarian, what’s your superpower?
In appreciation and celebrations of librarians the world over.
While it might only be National Librarian Day in America today I’ll take any excuse to talk about books and words and the gatekeepers of them. While the quote on my new librarian pencils might be slightly tongue in cheek ( I mean who doesn’t want a superpower?) at its hearts its sentiment is real. Librarians have the superpower of encouraging and nurturing a love or reading in both children and adults alike. Introducing you to a new favourite author or getting you to try a different genre of books.
Librarians are memory keepers
I recently watched a fascinating TED talk from librarian Sandra Collins, head librarian of the National Library of Ireland about the role of librarians as a memory keeper. It was a really interesting talk and a timely reminder that a librarians role is far more than what you see on the surface.
Just look at how they have adapted to the lockdowns here in Ireland and the incredible effort they have put into their online offerings. I know I have thoroughly enjoyed following the Kildare Libraries instagram account and seeing familiar faces online!
I created the librarian pencils to celebrate this vocation, each pencil in the librarian set has a different Library associated word and its etymology and the word definition.
My love of Etymology
I have always loved the meaning of words, how when you dig down to the roots of it you can find so many links between languages, how you can see the history of an object or a career in the word that is used to describe it.
If you take the word book for example and how at its roots you can trace it back to the ancient Germanic word bokiz which means “beech” and how that in turn is tied to the practise of inscribing words or runes onto beech tablets or the trees themselves.
The words I chose
I chose five words to explore for the Librarian pencils. Each one I associate with librarians and felt appropriate for the pencil set. For each word I looked at its history and meaning. Digging into the etymology and roots of where it came from.
Book, \ˈˈbu̇k \: n. a set of written sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory. From the old English boc “book, writing, written document”. Originally meant any written document but gradually narrowed by early Middle English to “a written work covering many pages fastened together and bound. Derived from the ancient Germanic bōók(ó)-, from bokiz “beech”. From the practise of inscribing runes on beechwood tablets; or carving in the tree itself.
Librarian, \ˈli·brar·i·an \: n. custodian of a library, first known use was in 1702. An earlier form of the word was library-keeper dating from the 1640’s & librarian had been used in the sense “scribe, one who copies books” as early as the 1660’s.
Library, \ˈli·brary \: n. a place for books,dating from the late 14c. Derived from the Anglo-French librarie meaning a collection of books; bookseller’s shop. Which in itself comes from the Latin librarium “book-case, chest for books,” and libraria “a bookseller’s shop. The Latin root of the word liber originally described “the inner bark of trees”.
When I was in school you could do different volunteering within the school and I used to volunteer at the library. This mainly involved me reading books, going to restack the bookshelves and then getting distracted by more books.
But I can picture to this day the poster on the library wall of the Dewey Decimal system and all the categories.
My favourite was always 823, can you guess what that was?
Dewey Decimal system, n. A library classification system that organises information into 10 broad areas subdivided numerically into progressively smaller topics. Designated by a 3-digit number and subdivisions are shown by numbers after a decimal point. Created in 1885 by Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) who proposed it 1876 while acting librarian of Amherst College.
Bibliophile, \ˈbib.li-o-.fil\ : n. a lover of books especially a collector of rare books. First known use was in the 1820’s. The word is derived from the Greek words biblion which means ‘book’ and philos meaning ‘to love or friend’. Associated : Bibliopole, a dealer in books.
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