My wife always loves it when I tell people what I do for a living. When I say I’m a “law librarian” I usually get a confused look back from the other party. Then I say “I’m a librarian that also happens to have a law degree.” I usually get the same blank look, but they tend to say “ohhhh,” and quickly change the topic. People have certain stereotypes of librarians, and most of those I don’t fit. One universal comment I get from my non-librarian professional colleagues is this:

If you want to move up in the world (i.e., get that “Chief” position)… drop the librarian title.

This comment was taken to heart by one of my “library” organizations, SLA (originally Special Libraries Association). This week the SLA leadership announced a proposed change in the name of the organization. The new name? “Association of Strategic Knowledge Professionals” or … wait for it… wait for it…. “ASKPro.”
Needless to say, the comments have been, shall we say, interesting.
  • “Find myself asking, What is a librarian? What is an info pro? What is a strategic knowledge professional? I can answer the first 2!” – @iBraryGuy
  • “The most controversial part of my guest lecture today was when I mentioned [ASKPro]. The course coordinator didn’t hear the K…” – @librariankt (now say ASKPro, but leave off the “K”)
  • “Vote NO on ASKPro. SLA it’s time to take back “library”, not run for the hills and a silly contrived name. We are librarians!” – @dapmcc
  • “Sounds like a duck should be saying it” – @dchochrek

Reece Dano (@r33c3) did an informal survey of his office and came back with some more positive reactions:
(1) Doing an informal survey around the office about the proposed ASKPro name. Some interesting observations. (2) Mostly positive. Some people who think of us primarily as librarians don’t understand the meaning of ‘strategic.’ (3) But those are people who don’t often directly receive our research deliverables. (4) People definitely understand “knowledge professional” immediately. (5) Unexpected finding: Men almost unanimously like it — immediately. Women have to think about for a minute, but usually like it. (6) A few women find the name slightly pretentious. (7) EVERYONE likes it much better than “Special Libraries Association.” Again, this was not a scientific survey. 🙂
Name changes are always interesting to follow. I’ve always had the belief that if you think you can change all your problems by changing your name, then the name is not your problem. On that topic, my friend Jan Rivers had a great comment:

[How our organizational] leaders value what we do isn’t based on what we’re called, it’s based on our actions. – @jriversmn

I’ll discuss this next week in Austin at the SLA-Texas Chapter meeting (which I happen to be President of this year). It will be very interesting to see what the comments the membership has regarding the proposed name change.