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The library as place: Providing students with opportunities for socialization, relaxation, and restoration

Lisa Waxman (Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Stephanie Clemons (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)
Jim Banning (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)
David McKelfresh (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 18 September 2007



To provide insight and practical perspectives into the needs of university students regarding places to gather, develop community, and find restoration on the college campus. This information can be used by libraries as they seek to encourage library use by students.


About 44 students were sent into the field to document the location and physical characteristics of the “third place.” The questionnaire and field notes recorded by the students addressed the central questions of what spaces constituted their third places, the location of those spaces, the activities in which they participated while there, the factors that contributed to their selection of those places, and the important design features of those third places. In addition, the research team observed students in library settings and interviewed library administrators.


About 80 percent of students indicated that their favorite third place was off campus. These places were overwhelmingly coffee shops and restaurants. The major functions served by their third places included socialization and relaxation.

Practical implications

These findings provide insight into the way students now study, research, and communicate. Libraries can use this information as they design spaces that encourage students to come to the library to study, as well as socialize, converse, find restoration, and simply “hang out.”


The paper brings together practical information from an interdisciplinary team that can aid libraries interested in renovating spaces to accommodate students of the twenty‐first century.



Waxman, L., Clemons, S., Banning, J. and McKelfresh, D. (2007), "The library as place: Providing students with opportunities for socialization, relaxation, and restoration", New Library World, Vol. 108 No. 9/10, pp. 424-434.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited