Naming opportunities

Lorcan 1 min read

[warning: retrospection ahead]
In a longish and intermittently productive professional writing career, I have had lots of opportunities to come up with titles for publications. With variable results.
Some I like. Full disclosure captured, I thought, the gist of the report to which it is attached [pdf]. This was a study into the extent of the retrospective catalog conversion challenge in UK libraries and archives. The rationale was similar to the ‘hidden collections’ discussion. If the existence of particular collections is not disclosed, they may not be discovered, and their value to research and learning is diminished.
Some were awful. A Utopian place of criticism? was a rather opaque title for a rather dense article. It is an example of the strained literary allusion that is more of an indulgence for the authors than a helpful hook for the reader.
Some were mis-timed. Libraries, networks and OSI was a well-received contribution. Despite the advice of colleagues, I was reluctant to drop OSI from the title because a lot of work had gone into the OSI bits. As it turns out I should have heeded the advice. Interest in OSI had peaked and gone into decline by the time the second edition came out. Its impact would have been greater if it had been called Libraries and networks, or somesuch: OSI got in the way.
Note 1: An early lesson in the importance of brand.
Note 2: How many current readers know what OSI was 😉
Anyway, this nostalgic note was prompted by the appearance on my desk of No brief candle: reconceiving research libraries for the 21st Century [pdf] [worldcat] from CLIR which despite the strained literary allusion in its title has some interesting contributions to which I will no doubt return in these pages.

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