Craving community

The Third Place
Work and home (or school and home) are the places where people spend the majority of their time. But, people crave a Third Place where they can fulfill the social need to connect with society. Where do you choose to hangout?

I was intrigued by the existence of places where books are the impetus for face-to-face social interaction in the digital age. People can use computers and smart phones to communicate from just about anywhere – so why do they choose to go to a physical place to be in the presence of real, live, people? Social media is a tool that enables people to connect virtually. But, people still desire the opportunity to connect in person. As discussed in The Library of the Future in Plain English (Stephens, 2013), people need a physical place for collaboration and communication. There is an attitude shift about the purpose and design of libraries. Gone are the days of shushing, libraries that evolve will survive.

Customer Service
Look at the successful service model of the Apple store – welcoming, no question is seen as stupid, staff members are experts about their product, customers can browse without pressure to purchase. What fascinates me most about the Apple store is the Genius Bar – a walk-up help desk.  Most of the people visiting the Genius Bar could get remote technical help for their computer problems, but they CHOOSE to visit the Apple store in person. Apple was smart enough to recognize their customers’ desire for face-to-face interaction. Several years later, Microsoft copied the Apple store’s customer service model. Libraries would be foolish to abandon the walk-up reference desk as they expand online library services.

Seeing triple?

Apple Store Genius Bar

Apple Store Genius Bar

Microsoft store

Microsoft Store

Reference Interview

Reference Interview-Archives of Ontario

Rebirth of Reading Rooms
There is a common misconception that as more library content becomes digitized, the number of people who visit physical libraries will decrease. In fact, library functions are now appearing in non-traditional venues. Today we are seeing an evolved version of traditional reading rooms. We need to feed our souls’ need for a sense of community.

Click here for Books and Bars video

Some examples of public places where people can relax, socialize and read are:

Beijing Bookworm

Beijing Bookworm

Witness the Beijing Bookworm – a library, bookstore, event venue, reading room, restaurant, and bar. I discovered the Bookworm online and was curious about the multi-purpose nature of this place. How do library and bookstore coexist? Are there trained librarians on staff?

I will be traveling to South Korea and China from March 6-17, 2013 for work. If time permits, I will visit some libraries and bookstores. Beijing Bookworm is not too far from the hotel where I will be staying in Beijing.  Wish me luck!

Community at the Bookworm

Community at the Bookworm

Archives of Ontario. (2013). What does an archivist do? [Image: reference interview]. Ontario Ministry of Government Services. Retrieved from

Books & bars: L.A.’s thirst for literature (and style) [Blog post]. (2011). Styleture. Retrieved from

Bookworm, The. (2013). [Website]. Retrieved from

Erikson, R., & Markuson, C. (2009). Designing a school library media center for the future. Chicago: American Library Association.

Haselton, Todd. (2012). Apple: Retail layoffs were a mistake, staff changes being reversed. TechnoBuffalo [Image from blog]. Retrieved from

Kamin, Jeff. (2013) Reinventing the book club as show [Blog post]. Books and Bars. Retrieved from

Nazaryan, A., Zaraick, K., & Santo, F. (2012). Drink a beer, open a book: the best bars for reading in New York [Blog post]. New York Daily News. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2013). The hyperlinked library model. LIBR 287-The Hyperlinked Library [Blog post]. Retrieved from 


5 thoughts on “Craving community

  1. Will you be in Seoul Jolene!?
    I hope you post about the Beijing Bookworm. I’d love to hear about it if you find it! 🙂

  2. I think the Apple Store model is an excellent model. Folks using the Genius Bar have any number of ways to get help with their product, but they flock to the Genius Bar. I have never had a bad experience there and I think their Geniuses are sufficiently well-trained so that customers feel well-cared-for even if their specific problem wasn’t solved.

    If every library member was as well-cared-for I think our job prospects would improve dramatically.

  3. I totally agree with the focus of the post and the comments – there’s something to the genius bar model! I think part of it is actually feeling like you are being listened to with an understanding ear.

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