or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 5/6

   May 12th, 2007 Brian Herzog

I'm traveling to Ohio this weekend, to celebrate both Mother's Day with my Mom and Grama, and my brother Mike's 30th Birthday (May 9th). So, this week's reference question is family-related.

My sister announced in March that she's going to be having her third child, which got everyone excited. Her first two are boys (Andrew, 5, and Jake, 2), so needless to say she is really hoping for a girl this time.

Ultrasound image with 'Hello my name is Max' stickerOn Tuesday night she called to tell me that she is, indeed, having a girl. Hooray for Jenny. During the course of the call, we started talking about names for the baby, and she said she and her husband were having trouble picking a name this time.

Jenny is usually up on what's trendy, and the names of my two nephews turned out to pretty much be the "in" names for the years they were born. But with this one, they're stuck. They didn't like the idea of looking at baby-name books (I don't know why), so I suggested some fun online tools.

One, from the Social Security Administration, lists Popular Baby Names according to newborns registered for social security numbers. It shows which names were popular each year back to 1880, as well as allows searching by a name to see how popular it has been over time ("Brian" was #8 in 1974, but has since slipped to #63). There is also a by-state breakdown, to show which names are popular in different parts of the country.

The second fun website I use for baby names is the NameVoyager Baby Name Wizard. It requires java, but is visually-appealing. Type in a name, and it shows a popularity graph (which indeed confirms that "Brian" peaked in the early '70s). Mousing-over the graph gives a ranking by year for the last couple years, then by decade for the '90s and back.

A few other sites I pulled from the Librarian's Index to the Internet's listings for baby name resources are:

  • http://www.babynames.com: ad-supported searchable names database, which also provides short meanings (I am High and Noble) and origins. Also has lists of names from Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and soap operas
  • http://tools.oxygen.com/babynamer: database of over 23,000 names - plus source, meaning, popularity, alternate spellings, teasing nicknames, and pronunciation. Also provides a bunch more information
  • http://www.babycenter.com: more of a "pregnancy central command," which does list names, but also lets expectant mothers chart their development, connect with other pregnant women, and also provides related articles

So, no word yet on what name they might choose. But I know what girl names they're not going to use. Below are the names I've reserved (on the off-chance that I ever have children) that my siblings can't use for their kids:

Girl Names

  • Samantha
  • Alexandria
  • Sylvia
  • Sophia
  • Anna (Brother Tim named my niece Annabelle, without clearing it with me first)
  • Emma
  • Abigail
  • Kathrine
  • Molly
  • Clarie
Boy Names

  • Edwood
  • Hunter
  • Samuel
  • Benjamin
  • Eliot

What? Don't like my names? Try making up your own. I just learned this morning that Jason Lee named his son Pilot Inspektor. Huh.

babies, baby, baby names, babynames, libraries, library, name, names, naming babies, public libraries, public library, reference question

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