Independent Libraries as the 'Great Good Place'

deadline for submissions: 
February 22, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Independent Libraries Association

In the heart of their communities and repositories of some of the most independent cultural collections in the UK, independent libraries are social, educational, working spaces which deliver numerous personal benefits to those who use them. This year’s theme is inspired by Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place (1989), in which Oldenberg discusses the desirable ‘third place’: public places where anyone can gather and interact. Unlike the first place (home) and the second place (work), third spaces offer inexpensive access to discussion, pleasure, and community, leading to social cohesion, civic engagement, and the wellbeing that comes from a sense of place. Third spaces can be cafes, main streets, coffeehouses, beer gardens…

 But it is the library which is a third space par excellence. Its collections, exhibitions and spaces inform debate and encourage self-education, its membership creates and promotes social equality, while its events create and promote social vitality and community. This year’s host, The Leeds Library, is drawing on the theory of the Great Good Place as it works to ensure its future, and the ILA’s 2020 conference will explore every way in which independent libraries have been, and will continue to be, Great Good Places to their local, national, and international users in the digital age.

Topics for papers could include, but are not limited to:

  • Collective Voices – a Manifesto for Independent Libraries;  
  • Independent Libraries – Sustaining the Great Good Place;
  • Tradition and Change – The next 10 years for the Independent Library;
  • The Voices of Independent Libraries;
  • Creativity and Engagement – Independent Libraries as the Third Place;
  • Independent Libraries in the Information Age;
  • Using our Roots to Shape our Futures;

We emphasise that papers do not need to be scholarly, and can take the form of discussions, conversations, case studies, panels, and roundtables. Please send 250 word proposals for 20-minute papers, as well as a 250 word biography, to