In the animal world we have aggregations such as: a pride of lions, a pod of whales, a gaggle of geese, a murmuration of starlings, and so forth. James Lipton, in his book An Exaltation of Larks (Penguin Books, 1993) says that the technical term for such aggregations is venery. Lipton’s book provides rules for turning the creation of terms of venery into a game. His rules amount essentially to all players coming up with terms of venery, with one judge determining categories and later awarding points to the best terms.
There are even terms of venery that change depending on exactly where the group is. For example, geese on land are a flock, in flight they\'re a skein, and in the water a plump. Venery is at times age related, as in a kindle of kittens but a clowder of cats.
What might there be for us humans? How about a bean pot of accountants or a tintinnabulation of politicians? Perhaps we should consider a worth of librarians. We could get tagged with worse! And librarians ARE worth a lot! For library folk we have:
· a core of catalogers,
· a strand of webmasters,
· a mcguffy of shelfreaders,
· an antecedent of reference librarians,
· a round of circulation clerks,
· a tale of children\'s librarians
· a crash of technical service staff
· an ephemera of archivists
· an exultation of volunteers
For library users we have:
· a clamor of users,
· an interruption of cell phoners
· a wriggle of storytimers
· a genuflection of bottom shelvers
· a procrastination of fine payers
and, of course,
· a blessing of friends
As suggested by a library trustee, instead of a \"mute of hounds\" wouldn\'t everyone really rather have a \"mute of trustees\"? One could always hope, too, for a “murmur of budget analysts.”
Then at last, we can, of course, pray for an ascendancy of information, a triumph of knowledge, and a soaring of wisdom.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr.