Archive for June 13th, 2013

Power patrons?

Posted in Libraries on June 13th, 2013

I’ve had those two words sitting on my “should blog about this” notebook for months–and this is as good a time as any.

What’s a power patron? Somebody who goes to their public library at least once a week. And, if you believe a number of sources (most of which trace back to a single library journal), libraries should pay extra attention to power patrons.

I’m not particularly comfortable with the whole “power patron” concept (although I suppose it’s better than “prime customer”) as it applies to public libraries. I’m even more uncomfortable with the notion that people who are in their public libraries lots and lots and lots deserve special treatment or should be listened to more carefully than the rest of us shlubs.

I’m not a power patron. I typically visit the library once every three weeks, sometimes a little sooner, sometimes a little later. I return my three books, drop off any donations to the Friends’ bookstore, choose three new books, and leave.

I am, in other words, a regular patron–borrowing typically 50 or so books a year, appreciating the library, only too ready to vote for a millage increase and support shifting more of the city’s budget to the library. When I finally give up on trying to make a difference nationally, I’ll get directly involved with the Friends (they’re already recruiting…) and maybe go to library programs.

But I certainly don’t go to the library every week. So I’m just an ordinary patron.

Actually, if patrons who go once a week are power patrons who deserve extra attention, what about the small group (here–larger elsewhere) who go every single day and spend much of the day in the library, sometimes even awake?

Aren’t those superpatrons? Shouldn’t they have even more influence on a library’s operation?


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