The School Library as The Third Place

Looking at the school library as a third place for students, parents, and faculty

For over eight years we have developed a Learning Commons environment for our library. One of the big things that we investigated in the planning stages, was the idea of the library as “the third place.”  This term was coined by professor emeritus of sociology at the University of West Florida Ray Oldenburg.  The idea is that the first place is your home and the second place is your work or school.  And then there is that third-place, that place where you “hang out” with friends, collaborate with colleagues, it is a place to go and meet for quiet discussion, or friendly debate. The big question is “how can a school library be a third-place when it is also part of the second place?”

Right now, at this very moment in my career I am at a distinct advantage. Not only have I achieved a certain amount of experience as a school librarian (10 plus years) I also have a built-in “focus group” that eats dinner with me every night (i.e. my very own teenagers.)  So, I asked my own teenagers “What can we do to make the school library a great place to hangout?”  Thankfully their answers are things we are already doing like:

Lattes in the Library

Donated Keurig machine for  self serve station

  • Coffee  – we have a self serve Keurig machine and recently purchased a small coffee pod dispenser
  • Comfy chairs – everyone wants a comfy place to sit, we stay away from sofas to cut down on PDA
  • Games – we have card games, chess, checkers, and scrabble — also a Minecraft server
  • Technology – wireless Internet for students, faculty and guests — and Makerspace/Hackerspace

Other ideas to make the school library the third place

  • Host PTA/PTO meetings
  • Have special events at night (debate watch party, parent book club, maker night, coffee house, movie night)
  • Before and After school hangout for students (host student clubs)
  • Place for faculty and staff to hangout  (have coffee, host in-service, etc.)

Read more about third places:




Coffee House

Friday Night Coffee House

Early Morning Crew

Early Morning Crew











Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Makerspaces/Learning Commons, Uncategorized

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