Libraries as third places: a new generation of cultural services

The concept of “third place library” has been applied to a new generation of cultural services with a strong social dimension, designed to be used by the public as an extension of their own living rooms. They are social hubs for the community, bringing users together by means of cultural and community projects. They bring social capital to deprived urban areas and act as flagship projects for their communities. They are attractive and accessible sites that aim to create genuine democracy of access to culture, frequently combining several roles on one site, including community support services. They offer spaces for relaxation and for study, for informal exchanges and for leisure, giving users a multi-faceted experience. The notion of the library is being reinvented or even subsumed into a broader model, reflected in the names given to such “third place” services: Library Concept Centre, Discovery Centre, or Idea Store, for example.