Over on Library 2.0 Ning, several discussions have started around what we call the people who come through our doors.
Patrons- a word seen as too suggestive of subscription libraries and good deeds.
Users- the common issue with this word is, it makes people who don’t use the services into a negative category; the ‘non users.’
Customers- some prefer this word as it links to customer service. And reflects that people pay. Me, I don’t like it. By itself calling people customers won’t help service get better. It also leads to the Customer-Is-Right idea, for which see Walt Crawford’s discussion and link to a non-library article on this. Edit: here is the article.
At root I feel that ‘customer’ is a reductive and problematic relationship in community venues.
If pushed, I’d go for ‘visitors.’ This doesn’t judge what people do/don’t do (do they ‘use’ a book?), covers online use and retains some sense of community.
The title of this post is from Talking Heads’ Give me back my name from Little Creatures.