An article – Users Don’t Know What Libraries Are Talking About, Studies Find –published last year in Library Journal reports that the average library user success rate for finding journal articles or article databases is only 52 percent.

Commonly misunderstood terms include acronyms and brand names, subject categories, and the words “database,” “library catalog,” “e-journals,” “index,” “interlibrary loan”, “periodical,” “serial,” “reference,” and “resource.”

The library profession is absolutely filled with jargon and acronyms. Librarians and archivists may understand what the terms Web 2.0 or ACRL or XML mean, but do you have to in order to find your ancestors? Imagine if your medical professional responded to your questions only with medical terminology she or he would use when consulting with other colleagues. You’d probably leave  (or maybe even have left ) an appointment with more questions than when you entered.

A librarian or other information professional needs to communicate with library users in plain, non-library language and use terms on Web sites that help you find what you need.

Because of the questions I get during my presentations, it’s clear that this confusion exists not only for finding resources, but also for citing them. I’m going to be working on that latter issue in the blog and in my next Sassy Jane Genealogy Guide.

I’m interested in barriers you may have encountered in using information resources (maybe the term “information resources”?) in your family research. Feel free to comment at the link above or contact me here.