The library as a ‘third thing’

The third thing. Via museum 2.0

We did not spend our days gazing into each other’s eyes. We did that gazing when we made love or when one of us was in trouble, but most of the time our gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing. Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention. Lovemaking is not a third thing but two-in-one. John Keats can be a third thing, or the Boston Symphony Orchestra, or Dutch interiors, or Monopoly.

~ Via museum 2.0

The term  “the third thing,”  is the title of a moving essay by poet Donald Hall ( written in 2005).

The library as a third thing:

Text exerpts from reports of the The Netherlands Institute for Social Research.

“The strengths of the library system are its still wide reach, not only as an institution where people can borrow books for recreation and relaxation, but also as a neutral, low-threshold place to visit and to consult content. “

“The ‘Public’  in ‘public libraries’ has traditionally been interpreted as meaning neutral and non-commercial.”

“It is crucial for the democratic process and social cohesion that the threshold to that knowledge is as low as possible and that citizens are enabled to find their way through this labyrinth in a neutral way.”

“The low-threshold neutrality of the library is seen as an opportunity, especially in large towns and cities, to organise meetings between sections of the population that would not arise of their own accord.”

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