Have you ever considered words? Not the plain everyday words, but the ones that have complex meanings. The words that can take entire sentences and shrink them down into a singular group of letters. Some may have crossed language barriers already – schadenfreude (German) is widely understood as a term for delighting in the misfortune of others – but others remain rooted in their original language of origin.
So, which of these words are essential for all academic librarians, no matter the language they speak? How many words exist that can help capture the often chaotic days of a librarian and the role s/he plays in his/her institution?
1. TSUNDOKU [tsoon-doh-koo] - Japanese
At the heart of most librarians is a book lover, a seeker of knowledge and information. At the same time though, librarians are busy people! So tsundoku – the act of buying a book and leaving it unread, alongside other titles you’ll never get time to read – might be quite familiar.
2. DESERNRASCANCO [the-zEn-ros-kan-so] - Portuguese
Moving at such a busy pace means often having to think quickly. If you’ve ever had to improvise or ‘hack’ a creative solution to a problem, you’ll want to learn this word.
3. TAARRADHIN [tAh-rAh-deen] – Arabic
This is a word for all the peacekeepers out there, who are often searching for ways to keep everyone happy. Being at the heart of an academic institution sometimes means offering a happy solution for everyone, a true agreement between all parties involved.
4. NUNCHI [nUn-chE] - Korean
Similarly, being central to an institution means continually building and working on professional relationships. To communicate effectively you may have learned the subtle art and ability to listen and gauge others moods.
5. VERSCHLIMMBESSERUNG [versh-lim-BESS-air-oong] - German
In times of change, it is inevitable that this might happen. You may have encountered supposed improvements that simply make things worse in the library environment.
6. POCHEMUCHKA [pa-che-'mooch-ka] - Russian
As a source of knowledge for students, faculty and researchers you may come across someone who asks too many questions.
7. TARTLE [tart-uhl] - Scottish
If you work in a large institution or across multiple sites you’ll recognize the panicked hesitation while introducing someone because you can’t quite remember his/her name.
8. SERENDIPITY [ser-en-dip-i-te] – English
When you find something good without looking for it, like when a job opportunity suddenly becomes open or your hard work naturally aligns with a wider project that’s just come to light.
9. ZALATWIĆ [za-wat-vich] - Polish
Sometimes it’s a little harder though, and you might need to use your personal charm or network to just get something done, employing the art of persuasion and connections
10. SENY [sen-j] - Catalan
Academic librarians may be inspired by this ancestral Catalan wisdom, aiming for thoughtful perception of a situation – combining level-headedness, awareness, integrity and taking the right action.
11. ARBEJDSGLÆDE [ah-bites-gleh-the] - Danish
Quite simply, that feeling of happiness that comes from having a satisfying job.
If you know any words that you feel epitomize the life of an academic librarian, let us know in the comments below
Special thanks to our European Library Advisory Board members who sparked this idea with conversation and the sharing of interesting words in their native languages over dinner.