Patrons, Users and Customers

Last week I attended a workshop where the speaker made some remark about how some libraries still call those who frequent them “patrons.” She thought they were being stuffy and old-fashioned. She preferred users or customers.
bq.First, calling people “users” is pernicious. It distances and dehumanizes, and should be stricken from the IT vocabulary (see Those clueless users) as well as from the publishing vocabulary. IT has customers and clients, not users. IT-oriented publishers have readers, not users. – “Jon Udell(User-generated content vs. reader-created context)”:http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/06/19.html#a1471 Personally, every time I hear a library call the people who come in “customers” I cringe inside. It just seems to impersonal to me. At my library, we call them “patrons” and I think we will continue to do so.

Posted by Michael K Pate

Michael K. Pate tends to spend a great deal time of time around computers. He has been a Librarian since 1997. Michael was born in Avon Park, Florida in 1966. Except for a couple of brief periods in his life (once in Tampa and once in Winter Haven/Haines City), he has been a life-long resident. Originally, he planned on a career as a Computer Programmer and therefore graduate from Webber College with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in 1988. However, unhappy with career opportunities at the time, he soon returned to school and received a BS in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida. He began his career in education at Avon Elementary and later Avon Park Middle working as a Computer Lab Coordinator. While technological challenges were interesting, he found himself more and more interested in becoming a Media Specialist. He began work on his MLS in 1995. However, a summer internship at the Sebring Public Library in 1996 soon made him reconsider just what his career should be. Upon graduation in 1997, he secured a position as a Media Specialist at Eastside Elementary in Haines City. Eventually, the position he was looking for opened up and he returned to SPL as Reference Librarian in 1999. In 2003, he became Assistant Director of the Highlands County Library System, serving in that role until the position was eliminated during a late round of budget cuts in 2010. Since then, he has been the Computer Support Specialist for the Heartland Library Cooperative. In 2011, he began serving on the Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium.