Words matter: The power of language to create community

Meggan Press

Abstract

Pause for a moment and consider something tiny, yet absolutely fundamental to libraries. Consider the many words that we as a profession use to describe the people who use our libraries. Most of the words we use to refer to the people who use our libraries are transactional rather than relational. I’ve long had difficulty with most of these words, finding myself chafing against their usage, connotations, and general feeling. For instance, calling the people who use our libraries customers isn’t right. We aren’t selling products and they aren’t buying. Customer base, client, or consumer are even further from the target, although I have seen these words used.

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