Make the Library Your Third Place This Summer

How often do you visit your local library?

Where else can you go to have fun, get out of the heat, and enjoy books and programs for free?

Though we’ve written a few pieces about the importance of third places, it’s always worth mentioning again at the start of the summer season. With many students and teachers out of school, they no longer automatically have the convenience of regular human interaction. Now, they’ll have to seek it out themselves.

If you’re one of those people (or a parent to one), we encourage you to keep reading. We’ll go over everything you need to know about third places, why they’re important, and why your local library is the perfect choice.


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What Is a Third Place?

The places we regularly visit and interact with can be divided into three distinct categories. First places are our living areas like houses or apartments. Second places are where we spend most of our time, usually work or school.

Third places are much broader, encompassing any area that doesn’t fit into the first two categories. This includes venues like coffee shops, restaurants, museums, and, of course, libraries. Essentially, third places are anywhere you would go to have a day out with friends or just to get out of the house.

The problem is that free and affordable third places are rapidly disappearing. Economic troubles over the past several years have forced many third places to either monetize or face closure. This has made it more and more difficult to experience all the things third places have to offer, especially for those who don’t have money to spare. Because of this, many believe that public libraries are one of America’s last free third places.


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Why Are Third Places Important?

Why does the rapid disappearance of free third places from American society matter? What do they contribute to society, and how do they enrich our lives? Simply put, they give us opportunities for the social interaction we need to survive. 

Humans are social creatures, but the disappearance of third places has given rise to a concerning new routine. We wake up, go to work, go home, engage with friends and family online (or not at all), go to bed, and then repeat it all in the morning. 

We simply aren’t built to interact with others like this, and any amount of data can prove that. Depression and anxiety rates are on the rise, leaving us feeling lonely and unfulfilled. The solution to this? We need to bring the third place back into the limelight. Whether you want to meet new friends or hang out with old ones, third places like the library help you maintain a balanced and mentally healthy lifestyle in an increasingly isolated age.


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Why Your Library Is the Perfect Third Place

Of course, you’re likely wondering what distinguishes the library as a superior third place. It all boils down to the fact that libraries offer a little something for everyone and will continue to offer it free of charge for as long as they can. 

If you want to connect with a group of like-minded librarygoers, for example, you can join a book club or hobby group. If you’re a parent of a child or teen and want them to keep up with their studies over the summer, you can help them find interesting books and topics to research.

Even if you’re just looking for a way to beat the brutal summer heat, your local library will welcome you with open arms. Anyone and everyone is welcome at the library, making it the perfect third space not just for the summer season but for the entire year.

If you’d like to learn more about how your local library can serve you and your family over the summer break, check out the stories on our Families and Lifestyle feature pages today!



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