A Critique of the Student as Customer Metaphor in Higher Education and Academic Libraries

by McGuigan, Niamh A.

Abstract (Summary)
This paper describes a critique of the trend in higher education and academic libraries to refer to students and library patrons as customers. A survey of education and library literature was conducted to trace the development of this metaphor, particularly in relation to the use of Total Quality Management in higher education. Issues examined in this paper include the role of metaphors, the applicability of business terminology and concepts to education and libraries, the effects of commodification of information and education, and the influence the student/patron as customer metaphor has on information literacy instruction. This paper concludes that usage of the student/patron as customer metaphor indicates an inability to comprehend the role of the student or library patron, and that, by continuing to refer to college students and library patrons as customers, we contribute to the sense that education, research, and access to library services are irrelevant in today’s world.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:David Carr

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:total quality management college and university libraries evaluation library science literature public relations of terminology this paper describes a critique the trend in higher education academic to refer students patrons as customers survey was conducted trace development metaphor particularly relation use issues examined include role metaphors applicability business concepts effects commodification information influence student patron customer has on literacy instruction concludes that usage indicates an inability comprehend or by continuing


Date of Publication:07/15/2005

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