Cybrarians / Cybermen / Librarians

This book is overdue! : how librarians and cybrarians can save us all by Marilyn Johnson looks like a great read, any book featuring librarians – anecdotes as an LC subject heading is worth a look.

What’s more the review in the New York Times  – Library Science – is irresistible:

While researching her previous book … she noticed something peculiar: Dead librarians are more interesting than any other type of dead person. Johnson was particularly beguiled by a woman named Henriette Avram, who “beckoned from the obits page, with her mysterious, knowing smile, the chain-smoking systems analyst who automated the library records of the Library of Congress and wrote the first code for computerized catalogs.”

The title of the book has raised another issue for me though – my overwhelming distaste for the word ‘cybrarian’. This was a term I thought had bitten the dust.

A 2003 MLA Forum discussed the etymology and evolution of cybrarian. The Wiktionary has it as “One who maintains a cybrary; a librarian who works with digital resources online”. The OED has it as ” A person who is practised at finding information on the Internet on behalf of others, or who compiles or administers a library of reference material online”. The 2009 article Twenty-five years of Cyberspace has it as “Someone who helps others find information in cyberspace”.

But isn’t that what all librarians do?  Now that we all negotiate the digital, and cyberspace, as part of our everyday work the term ‘cybrarian’ is irrelevant. At the time of its arrival, the word smacked a bit of librarian shame, let’s reinvent ourselves as ‘cybrarians’ to be cool like those New York hipster librarians.

What do you think? Do you remember the halycon days of being an early adapter and being a ‘cybrarian’? Is it a term you’d still use?

2 thoughts on “Cybrarians / Cybermen / Librarians

  1. mj March 10, 2010 / 2:15 am

    There’s plenty of holds on this title – so I will be another copy or two to make sure we all get a chance to read it before Christmas!

  2. Marion March 11, 2010 / 1:49 am

    cybrarians – right up there with libearians – makes me feel like a grouchy bear of a librarian.
    I work with “digital resources online” and I still feel like a librarian using librarian skills. Like writing for web – still a writer not a cyberscribe(oooh)

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