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The Three Spaces of Libraries

In prepping for a tour for RAs at our college last week I started thinking of libraries in terms of space and realized that libraries are a combination of three distinct spaces: community space, learning space, and virtual space. This was how I ended up framing the tour, and I thought it was pretty helpful.

Community Space

Libraries are places where people can go to be social and be a part of a community. Libraries hold events like gaming nights, book clubs and film screenings. It’s also a place where you can go and meet friends and relax or even study with a group.

Learning Space

In addition to their function as a community hub, libraries are also a space for learning. Whether public, academic or special, libraries function as refuges to those who want to learn.  They make information resources available to learners such as books, magazines, DVDs, and databases. They also provide other exploratory resources such as computers with internet access. Libraries also have trained people to assist learners along the way. These are people like librarians who can help searchers find relevant useful information and make sense of it, or people in writing centers who can help users write their papers. Libraries create environments that facilitate exploration and discovery.

Virtual Space

Finally, the library is not confined to a brick and mortar building. The library is also a space online. Through social media tools like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter it is possible to further that sense of community discussed above. Patrons can also continue their learning online. Library websites try to make it easy for users to find relevant useful information.

Andy Burkhardt

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