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Looking for a Good Lunchtime Debate?

There are a few topics that when you scratch a librarian you get a firmly held opinion. These topics are great for sparking internal debates in libraries and exploring the edges of our world views.
Here’s one of my favourites questions:
What do you call the people you serve?
Users
Customers
Clients
Cardholders
Patrons
Learners
Students
Visitors
Gate Count
Colleagues
Clicks
Hits
Unique Vistors
Depending on your library type and role there is no one completely right answer.
Anyway, it’s an interesting question to revisit since language can drive behaviour. And besides we love labels! Couldn’t we just barcode the warm body units who pass through our doors and visit our websites and be done with it?
If you need a conversation starter, check out this post at Duct Tape Marketing.
Stephen

Posted on: September 18, 2007, 5:49 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. I read a transcript of a reference interaction that went something like this:……………………………………………………
    INFORMATION PROFESSIONAL: “Are you a library patron?”
    RESPONSE: “What’s that?”
    (When the word you use to describe your clients is short for “patronizing,” I think your correct in needing to examine the language we use.) Thanks

  2. WBU’s, I like it – we’re all about the initialisms. One of the comments at the Duct Tape Marketing site leads to this posting with a revolutionary new word for customers: patrons! Bwahaaa, just when libraries finally got embarrassed by the term!
    http://monkatwork.com/2007/05/23/customers-clients-or-patrons/