I am familiar with the term 'Third Space' from my discussion with Marilyn Smith, Petit Branch Manager but wasn't aware that there was such a debate attached to it. The phrase was coined by Ray Oldenburg and refers to the third place after home and work/study/school. Libraries have jumped on this bandwagon and defined themselves as the third place for their members. I can fully appreciate this as someone who spent pretty much her whole undergraduate ensconced in the sixteenth century library of my college (Corpus, Oxford) - and, by the picture below, who wouldn't?
|Corpus Christi College, Oxford Library|
But if the concept of libraries as a community space was prevalent in the sheltered and revered Oxford then it must work in less pressured situations. Prof. Lankes brought up the proposed library in the Carousel Centre (which did not come to fruition) and this reminded me of Cambridge Central Library, which is situated above the main shopping centre just off the main market square. This has been a great success for the library with footfall vastly increased and whenever you go in it is always busy. But, I am not sure how well this would work if there was a bookstore in close proximity. It is incredibly handy to be able to pop in when you are doing your shopping and indeed you can deposit any unwilling male shopping-tag-alongs there while you shop 'til you drop.* As you can see below, the library is above the shops:
We discussed the concept of making the library a piazza, an agora for the community and this is a great idea, especially when I consider the success of Norwich Public Library which is now part of the 'Forum' (an agora in Latin, wonderful!) that was built as part of the Millennium project in the city. This houses the local TV and radio station, the library, the tourist information, restaurants and cafes and is in the centre of the city.
|The Norwich Forum complete with merry-go-round|
* I can sense men getting angry at me already for that