So I (Arlene) was writing an email this afternoon to set up a meeting and realized that I really dislike the term “Reading Room.” Where to start? First, too passive. People aren’t just reading, they’re researching. So I suggested Research Center to MC, who said that sounded like a whole building and also said it sounded like we could provide research help to lots more than we really do. So Archives was placed in front to clarify that. Then Kevin of AMIPA walked in and was tapped to help brainstorm. So below is a list of some of the terms we came up with. We’re not identifying who suggested what. Not to protect the innocent, because frankly, none of us are innocent on this one, but because synonyms were flying too fast to keep up with who said what.
Center, room, suite, lounge, hub, zone, shoppe, hall, chamber, den, office, retreat, annex, sanctum, loft, station, bunker, camp, casa (de archives, of course), cloister, catacombs, incubator, cache, site, workshop, garret, gallery, court, lair, dispensary, promenade, conservatory, laboratory, colonnade, deck, borough, burrow, deck, piazza, expanse, bodega, quadrant, cove, sanatorium, citadel, attic, berth, lanai, arcade, quare, quad, crib, theater, mall, sanctuary, foundry, incubator, htel, cavity, armory, house, refectory, office, gymnasium, island, vomitorium, lobby, foyer, studio, kitchenette, temple, lyceum, palace, parlor, venue, spa, bar, pub, grotto, galley, quarters, bivouac, forum, base, bay, terminal, hangar, carrel, space, tenement, block, atelier, pod, gulag, commons, sty, hovel, brig, lodge, plant, hive, bin, asylum (for the criminally archival, added Kevin), saloon, salon, preserve, reserve, habitat, bin, hole, warren, area, arena, venue , port, dock, facility, sweatshop, concourse, hangout, chamber, cell, oubliette, haven, boudoir.
Scary that this is only a partial listing, huh?
I liked Zone for a while, but Kevin was laughing at me about it despite it having been his suggestion. Now, my personal favorites are Salon & Atelier, and since salon produces an unfortunate acronym (and we seem to really like acronyms around here), Archives Research Atelier is currently running in first place for me. If we can ever figure out how to pronounce it correctly, of course.
Weirder yet, yes even weirder than that list we generated, is that the reading room isn’t officially called that. The signs all just call it Archives & Special Collections or Special Collections. It’s only the archivists who tend to call it the reading room. So if it’s only internal, dropping the Archives Research part is reasonable. But Atelier then suggests our processing room, not the public area. So maybe Salon is best after all. It’s a place to receive guests and to have intellectual discussions. Not a bad way to consider the research area of an archives, after all. Well, if we ever get around to naming it something, you’ll see it here first.
Oh, come on. It’s Friday after all. We deserved the mental break. Hmm… maybe we should revisit Asylum or Sanatorium.