Words are important

People care about words. Where they come from, how they are used, people care. Lately I have been attending more meetings than usual and I have been paying close attention to how people say things. Not only do I want to understand what they are saying, but I find myself thinking about why they choose specific words.

What precise nuances are they trying to get across by using this word instead of that one.
It is an interesting exercise and I find it makes me a better listener too.

I remember a discussion the Board had regarding the name of the Library District. At the
time, the District’s official name was the Montrose Library District. The Board of
Trustees wanted to make the Library District’s name sound more inclusive. Discussed at
great length was the problem caused by having a city and a county with the same name.
It was felt that the City of Montrose, being the largest population center in the county,
dominated people’s thoughts when they heard the word “Montrose.” How to portray the
Library District as serving an area more like the boundaries of Montrose County became
the quest. Many possibilities were discussed. Could the word “Montrose” be taken out
completely? What about using “Uncompahgre?” Uncompahgre, it was felt, was also too
inextricably linked with the eastern part of Montrose County. The District covers the
West End of Montrose County as well. So too does the District cover part of the
Cimarron Valley.
In the end, the decision was made to add a word to the Library District name, with a
subtitle if you will. The new name was the Montrose Regional Library District: Serving
the communities of Bedrock, Cimarron, Montrose, Naturita, Olathe and Paradox. How
did that list of communities get formed you ask? Those are the communities within the
Library District that have a Post Office. A bit arbitrary, yes, but also a nod to the history
of our region. Having a post office in the early days of our region meant being an official
“place,” an established community.
Now the library gets called all kinds of names. Montrose Library, Montrose County
Library, etc. But words are important. Names are important too. We are proud to be the
Montrose Regional Library District, just as we are proud to serve all of the people within
our District.
If you find yourself as interested in words as I am, may I recommend the following book.
“The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.” I see the
eyes rolling out there. A book about a dictionary? Well, it is written by Simon
Winchester who has tackled such subjects a Krakatoa and written for Smithsonian and
National Geographic. I can not recommend Mr. Winchester’s writing highly enough. His
style is entertaining, engaging and most of all, quick paced. The man is a first class story
teller. Check it out at your library.

About the author

Paul Paladino

Paul Paladino

Paul is the Montrose Library District Director