|Lelystad Public Library|
I came across Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model by Jeannette Woodward earlier this millennium and it is one of the seminal texts on the library-as-a-bookstore model, arguing that if libraries do not redesign the way its customer service, looks, and functionality in ways that enhance its community mission, patrons, or "customers," will only continue to gravitate to the beautiful, spacious, and well-stocked new bookstores. In fact, as Renee Feinberg puts it:
I have noticed patrons who seem to be using the store as a library. As a librarian, I wondered whether students were doing library research there, and if so, why they weren't using their college libraries. Were they gathering information successfully? Were they making an informed choice to avoid their college libraries? If students find it better to do research in B&N, should this affect how librarians develop library programs and provide services?Interestingly, libraries took a sudden turn in 2008 in the advent of the Web 2.0 phenomenon and subtly the emphasis shifted to Library 2.0 (which had its own share of controversy as a term). Which leads us to the present. Currently, I'm working with Dr. Patrick Lo of the University of Tsukuba in Japan on exploring library cafes as a "third place" for users of the library. This idea of the third place traces back to the sociologist Ray Oldenburg who articulated that beer gardens, main streets, pubs, cafes, coffeehouses, post offices, and other "third places" are the heart of a community's social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy.
Howard Schultz repositioned Starbucks into the idea of Starbucks goal to also become the Third Place in "our daily lives. (i.e. Home, Work and Starbucks)," so that it can provide all the comforts of home and office. So in our research project, we look at the library cafe as a Third Place, as a node of the library building, information/learning commons, and informal learning spaces. This site will continue to update on this interesting journey into the innovative ways that libraries are repositioning themselves and how patrons perceive this paradigm shift in the way food and culture intersect with library collections and learning. Stay tuned.