Friday, 10 August 2007

Word of the day

Title creep is today's word of the day. I am not claiming this as an original, although it certainly fills a semantic space, but it has been used before - in 2006 - in the Kinesthesis Breakthrough blog. There was an article in the March 2005 issue of Atlantic Monthly by Cullen Murphy (you have to pay for the full article) and a blog posting about it in AC/OS too.

In higher education, title creep is evident. This can take the form of acquisition of additional titles, or an extension of titular style, or invention of new titles. For example, "Director, Finance and Chief Financial Officer." The addition of a second and more impressive title represents a double title creep.

I am surprised that there is not more use of the term title creep, given its growing prevalence, and recommend the wonderful article by Cullen Murphy - if you are at a university, you can read it via one of many journal aggregations. Although if you are at a university, you will know all about it. As Mr Murphy suggests "Universities are adding honorific modifiers like sundae toppings to the names of professorships." There will be a longer posting on this tomorrow.

3 comments:

Kimt said...

Does title creep occur in libraries because we like to be acknowledged for the complexity of our jobs? Unfortunately titles in libraries vary so much and they often meaningless to those outside of the profession or for that matter the organisation.

I would like more generic titles and PDs it would make life much easier.

Andrew said...

I recently spied a vacancy for a Liaison Librarian position at UniMelb.

The title was: "Information Consultant, Information Awareness and Literacy Services".

Why not call a spade a spade?

Bec said...

Hi Derek
I spied an article recently on the concept of not library title creep but library mission creep ...

As Kim suggests, perhaps our 'title' creep is a response to our 'mission' creep ... we're trying to encompass so much in the field of librarianship that we want our titles to reflect our challenges.

For librarians, the issue of title partly boils down to whether or not we're willing to accept the brand of 'librarian' (as I am) or whether we feel the need to choose something with less stigma attached to it.

I've suggested before that some librarians are single-handedly responsible for perpetuating librarian stereotypes; in illustration of that point, see here and here).