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More Than a Picnic Table - The Library as “Third Place”

WC Public Library

     If you’ve driven by the West Chicago Public Library District on West Washington Street lately, you will have noticed something new. Two brand new, red, shiny umbrella tables with chairs have been added to the Library lawn. They look nice! But their purpose goes way beyond the aesthetic.

     The term “third place” was coined by Ray Oldenburg in his 1990 book, The Great Good Place, denoting neutral social surroundings separate from home and work or school.  Oldenburg refers to third places as “hangouts at the heart of a community” and local places “that help to get you through the day.”  Third places foster community building.

     “The West Chicago Public Library District trustees and staff are looking beyond the walls of the physical building when we think of the library as place,” says Administrative Librarian Melody E. Coleman.  “We are offering our customers a third space – not home, not school, not work – that is welcoming and comfortable, an area where they can reflect, think, socialize and learn.”

     Last year, almost 150,000 people walked through the doors of the Library in West Chicago.  This new outdoor space literally moves the Library “beyond the walls,” offering the opportunity to serve many more people without their ever having to walk through the doors.

     Stop by, have a seat, sip a cool drink, read, chat, relax.  We hope you like it enough to let it become a “third place” for you, a place that enriches your life and where you get more than you imagined! 


  • Shelley Campbell, Public Relations Specialist 

  • West Chicago Public Library District

  • Phone:  (630) 231-1552, ext. 128

  • FAX:  (630) 231-1709


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