What’s in a name?

If you visited Youth Services on the third floor of the library over the past few weeks, you know that we were deep into voting season.  It’s not November…

Pictured is our library lion, the star of a new Youth Services program.  Over the next few weeks, we will begin lending the lion to children, encouraging them to read, write, and play creatively.  For more on the program or to indicate interest in adopting the lion for a few days, please visit our site.

But a lion needs a name!  A recent New York Times article discussed “the art of naming a dog,” offering helpful tips, such as:

  • stick to one or two syllables,
  • pick something you don’t mind saying aloud…a lot,
  • and don’t let the children name the dog!

Do the same guidelines apply to naming a lion?  Without the benefit of this article’s advice, we encouraged children to freely submit suggestions three weeks ago. 

We received 43 unique suggestions from “Alfred” to “Zach.”  Suggestions included references to children’s popular culture, such as “Simba” (from The Lion King) and “Alex” (from Madagascar).  Up for interpretation was the lion’s gender, with names like “Violet” and “Felicious” alongside “John Witherspoon” and “Winston.”  Other suggestions made references to the lion’s character, either observed or perceived; in this category we have names like “Dastardly,” “Furry,” “Special/Helpful” and “The Lion Hero.”  Of course, we also received many suggestions of the leonine variety, including “Leo,” “Lon,” “Lio” and “Mr. Lucky.”

Over the past two weeks, we invited all third floor visitors to vote.  Participants were permitted to vote once per day, with a hand stamp to prevent voter impropriety.  The opportunity to vote again brought some children back into the library day after day, while a desire to preserve the hand stamp led to tricky bath times for others (or so their parents reported).  All in all, library visitors cast more than 400 ballots!

What’s in a name?  For the Youth Services department, a name is a way to get Princeton’s youngest residents involved in a democratic process, while generating excitement about a new program.  What is the lion’s name?  The people have spoken: meet Roary, our library lion!

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