How Public Libraries Help Build Healthy Communities

Stuart Butler and Marcela Cabello: “We’ve noted the importance of “third places” in strengthening communities – meaning those places that are neither one’s home (first place) nor workspace (second place). A range of such third places, from churches to beauty salons, play an important role in community building. They are the informal spaces that are often mainstays in a neighborhood, places where both random and intentional in-person relationships are made.”

“…public spaces and buildings can become important and successful third places. And one particularly interesting, emerging and important example is the public library.”

“Public libraries exist in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods, and typically they have a long history in their community. According to a 2015 Pew survey, almost two-thirds of adult Americans say that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. As Pew found, over 90 percent of adults think of public libraries as ‘welcoming and friendly places,’ and about half have visited or otherwise used a public library in the last 12 months.”

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