Thursday, 14 May 2015


For some reason the word "Customer" has become a bête noir in some parts of The Profession, the torch-bearer of Neoliberalism. And every time the hue and cry against the word sets off I rise to the bate and get Very Cross Indeed because I don't equate customer service and all that goes with it with Neoliberalism. Quite the opposite: as I see it "the customer" in a Neoliberal context is an asset to be sold or a sheep to be fleeced but rarely, if ever an actual customer.

I've been struggling to work out why I get in such a bate about this. To my rescue comes a useful and very well-measured post by Peter Williams in his Put The Book Back On The Shelf blog in which he makes a defence of the word "Customer" in libraries. It's worth reading the post and the comments, both to get both sides of the argument reasonably put.

I'll be coming back to this, after a bit of a mull to marshal my thoughts, as there's another reason why "customer" is important to a key factor in the crisis facing English public libraries.

[No, honestly: "bate" was intentional.]

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