A friend sent me this link to a post on Salon entitled “Bring back shushing librarians.” It’s an interesting read, but this post is not really about whether a library should be quiet or noisy.
The Salon piece reminded me of something that I’ve saddled myself with–the name of my blog. I kind of hate it. For those of you with children (those with two legs or those with four), you know how important the process of naming should be. Bestowing a name should require great thought and consideration.
When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, I gave the name about as much thought as I gave to choosing which shoe to put on first that day. I remember coming up with the slogan “bring your noise” during one of our strategic planning sessions knowing that no one was ever going to actually use it for anything. So when I started this blog, I thought, “Hey! I’ll use it! It’s so perfect.” Hindsight.
I did attempt to rationalize that decision, as you can see if you read the blurb off to the right, over there. And while what I said is still basically true, I wish I had given more thought to what’s hanging up there, above.
Because here’s the thing-
I’ve regretted using that name almost since day one. One of the first comments I received was from a friend who said the name reminded him of something musical from back in the day (I forget what song/group/pop culture reference he was referring to) and not in a good way.
And then, shortly after, someone sent me this private message via Facebook-
“Hi. I don’t dare put this on your blog comments, but can’t hold it inside any longer. Here goes — Bring Your Noise? Sometimes it’s all in the balance. Imagine working in this large library: You’re trying to hear an angry patron on the phone in a room full of people who are not trying to be quiet. A parent is ignoring his LOUD crying baby. Several friends are relaxing together with a loud conversation. Children are running around noisily. There is a normal buzz of people is in the background. It’s too noisy! You can’t hear the guy on the phone. You feel sorry for the people who are on their one hour a day of computer use. They don’t all have headphones. SO… how do you find the halfway point between stuffy and ear-splitting? I’m glad librarians don’t expect whispering any more, but….”
And then I started to think about the fact that generally speaking “making noise” on the Web is viewed negatively and thought of as generating unnecessary blather that gets in the way of the message rather than making a valuable contribution to the discourse.
So, what I have is a name that stands for making noise rather than conversation. Even though that’s not what the content of my blog represents. The name really doesn’t fit my intended purpose. While I do believe libraries should be full of life and not necessarily quiet, I do not envision them as the auditory equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese’s, either. And while I do believe that in order to be heard you sometimes have to make noise, that doesn’t mean that I believe all noise is good noise. Sometimes it only takes a quiet sound to garner attention. If somebody dropped a rock on that tranquil pier in my banner photo, and you had been standing alone gazing upon the Sound, you probably would have turned away to see who caused the disruption even though the sound of the impact would have gotten lost in the shuffle in another more populated environment.
But I’m stuck. I paid good money for the domain name, and even though I don’t have the kind of following that some of the better known blogs have, I do have a following and the name of my blog is known. So changing it feels self-defeating.
I may end up going with a moniker–BYN–in conjunction with the name. BYN was bestowed upon me by Will Manley. That’s how he would refer to me in response to my comments on his blog, Will Unwound. I like it. And I like knowing where it came from. Mr. Manley, if you’re still reading this blog, please know that I miss reading your daily posts, and I know others do, too, as several of the UnWinders have expressed that sentiment to me. I hope that someday you may decide to make your blog public again and pick up where you left off or maybe even start something new. But even if you never blog again, I hope you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your words were important to many people. And your voice is missed (I still read Will’s World). I know I will always appreciate your support and graciousness. Your kindness did not go unnoticed. I wonder what Boris is up to these days?
So there you have it. Stuck with a name that doesn’t fit. My kids are lucky that there were two of us making those decisions, although we made some mistakes on that front (try not to give your kid a name that no one can pronounce or spell correctly and please don’t make the mistake of naming your son after his father–sans junior–all the while intending to simply call the boy by his middle name/nickname for clarity because the fact is that it will forever be clear only to you–not teachers, the government, doctors…). Not that any of my kids’ names were mistakes. They are, of course, suited to each of them perfectly by now.
Maybe over time I will feel the same away about the name of this blog. In the meantime, if you hate the name as much as I do, that’s okay. Hopefully the noise that it brings is more like music to your ears rather than the grating sound of a car alarm going off in the night. Both are noise. But not all noise is created equal.