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

Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Makerspaces/Learning Commons, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.