When I started working in libraries, I realized pretty quickly that I did not resonate with the words the libraries choose to describe the people who use libraries. Customer, client, patron, user, none of them seemed to me to be an accurate representation of the relationship between libraries and people. When I started working at Paul Smith’s College, I started using the word “community,” which had the resonance I was seeking and which helped direct so much of the thinking behind the work I did there. So I guess you could say that I’ve been writing an essay in my head on the topic for the last 6 years.
A few months ago, I decided to put that essay down on paper, and this month it was published in C&RL News. I’m extremely proud of the essay, but I feel as though I’ve just scratched the surface of the issue. There was more I wanted to say but which didn’t fit the format. I want to continue this conversation about the words we use in libraries and the ways that they do or do not serve us and the underlying currents they mask. I’d love to know what you think and notice at your own institutions.