As libraries essentially operate outside the market, they are unused to thinking in terms of competition. Yet they always have had competitors, and always will. A number of elements need to be taken into account in structuring competition: cost, exhaustiveness, quality, speed, convenience, and so on. As public services, libraries do have a number of cards to play, even though the economy of scarcity that presided over the spread of the library network has given way to an economy of abundance, particularly in terms of the resources on offer – in other words, library holdings. Might the future see public policy deliberately turning libraries into “third places”, in recognition of the irreplaceable service they offer?