Difficult library patrons in academe: it's all in the eye of the beholder
Currie, C. Lyn
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Difficult patrons have been considered primarily from the perspective of the problem behaviours they present in libraries. Many have attempted to define the problem patron and to provide advice and develop guidelines for frontline public service staff. To understand the difficult patron in academic libraries we need to answer three questions - How well do we know our patrons? Do we unwittingly create difficult patrons through our failure to appreciate their needs? Do we regard patrons as difficult because the way they use libraries and conduct their information research does not match our idea of how it should be done? The answers to these questions suggest that we need to reconceptualize both our patrons and the services we provide. Library staff need to see difficult patrons not as problems but as challenges to the service ideas and standards we hold. A paradigm shift is necessary if we are to reconstruct our beliefs about our patrons, their information seeking behaviours and the services we provide to meet their needs. Some strategies for developing the skills of library staff to work effectively with difficult patrons are presented.
CitationReference Librarian v.36, nos. 75/76, 2002, 45-54
library patrons, library staff & training and development, library services, library instruction, technology and libraries, problem patron
DescriptionC. Lyn Currie, BA. Grad Dip Lib. MA., is Head, Education Library, University of Saskatchewan, 28 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0X1, Canada, E-mail: Lyn.Currie@usask.ca
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