Thursday, March 19, 2009


Being a librarian, I often have to catalog documents from government agencies of one type or another. One observation I have had is the use of the ubiquitous "and". You'll notice this in public agencies, museums, schools, colleges, foundations, graduate school departments and the like. What this means is that the museum you used to go to as a kid, say, the Cincinnati Museum of Contemporary Art, is now the Cincinnati Museum of Contemporary Arts and Culture. The Department of English at your old alma mater is now the Department of English, Language, and Contemporary Linguistics.

The Scranton School of Dance is now the Scranton College of Dance and Contemporary Movement. The state department of labor in Nevada is now the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The Katzenbach School for the Deaf is now the Katzenback School for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired. The Museum of Crafts is now the Museum of Crafts and Folklore. The Department of Geology is now the Department of Geology, Hydrology and Mineral Resources.

The reason for this, I'm guessing here, has something to do with money. A bequest is given in an area that is not the core of the organization but if they rename themselves, the thought is, they can get the grant. An area of study becomes fashionable and an organization renames itself to make it sound like they do the thing that is suddenly desirable.

Legislation in the nineties mandating that states do more job training is at the heart of the changes of departments of labor nationwide to names like the Department of Labor, Workforce Development and Cultural Resuscitation.

If I was a betting man, I would guess that with all the clawing for money from the Stimulus Act, we'll see lots more name changes this year. And the names will be getting longer, not shorter.

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