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Docs Librarian vs Google: Local Government in Alaska

Recently I helped a gentleman who e-mailed saying he was having trouble finding publications about Alaska local government, specifically our county equivalents. Like Louisiana, Alaska does not have counties. Louisiana has parrishes. We have boroughs in Alaska.

My patron had spent more than an hour searching both Google and Yahoo! using “boroughs” in combination with Alaska and other search terms, but found nothing. So he e-mailed me.

Within two minutes, I found him several web publications relating to boroughs from our Commerce Department pages.

The patron’s problem was that he spelled boroughs as “burrows.” Don’t laugh. If you hear the phrase “I want the population of Alaska’s boroughs” for the first time, I think “burrows” is a perfectly acceptable way to spell boroughs as unit of government unless you are from New York or live in Alaska.

Since “burrows” was spelled correctly, Google couldn’t suggest the alternate term “boroughs.” That’s one of many advantage we librarians have – we can sort through homonyms!

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1 Comment

  1. Pennsylvania (my native state) also has boroughs. There, it’s the standard designation for incorporated towns of a certain size (too small to be “cities” as defined by the Pa. constitution). It’s often abbreviated as “boro” (and “burgh” or “burg”, as in “Pittsburgh,” sometimes started out as “borough”), but I’ve never seen it confused with “burrow”! Though there are burrows in Pa., too, of course; think “groundhog.”

    If I run across any more “borough”/”burrow” confusion I’ll be tempted to submit it to the Eggcorn Database: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/

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