I just completed a survey advertised on a librarian listserv. I like doing surveys for other librarians; I hope that my perspectives from the middle (university size, collection size, budget size, and professional position all put me firmly in the middle) add to the richness of the data collected. Plus, I’m sort of a survey geek. I think they’re fun, and I’ve almost always got an opinion.
But this one just drove home the problem of jargon. I answered two separate questions with “I don’t know what you’re asking”. I think one was a problem of bad grammatical construction; I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be assessing. But the other was clearly a jargon problem in combination with bad sentence structure. I understood (I think!) the jargon-y terms they were using, but couldn’t figure out how they related to the question they seemed to be asking. Which, then, makes me question whether or not I really understood what they meant by the terms. Which then calls into question the validity of my responses on all the survey questions, since I may have misunderstood their intent from start to finish.
If other librarians can’t understand what we mean when we talk about our work, how on earth can patrons be expected to do so?
This is just another reminder to me to lobby to have the “OPAC” sign that’s in our lobby taken down. I’m off to send an email suggesting such action…