Cha-cha-changes: Canada’s History


Canada's History in its former title
Canada’s History in its former title (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New York Times reports that the Hudson Bay Company’s historical publication has given itself a new name, Canada’s History, with the subtitle “Formerly The Beaver.” Name changes have traditionally been a problem for periodicals–both cataloging and shelving. But as in the case of Arcadia University (formerly Beaver College), this change could really help. The Times says that the magazine had considered renaming itself as early as the 1970s (it was started in 1920) because of the vulgar meaning. What caused the change: internet filters were blocking the site from school and public libraries.

There’s a bit of lemons and lemonade here, but it’s interesting that Internet filters were also blamed for the Arcadia/Beaver change. I thought that change was done because 1) they were no longer in Beaver, PA; 2) wanted to upgrade the image and tuition levels of the institution; and 3) didn’t want to outrage alumni.

updated 1/27/2010]: And an aside: I worked for a few years as a serials clerk and became aware of how much serials librarians dislike such name changes. For many years, ALA’s Serials Librarians section would give awards for gratuitous name changes for periodicals. Librarian and bibliographical groups would get the “Snake in the Grass” award. It helped deal with such titles as “LES Nouvelles” which was also “LES News” and “LES Newsletter.” What was LES? The Licensing Executive Society.

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Published by Paul Romaine

Paul Romaine is a grant writer and independent curator in New York City.

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