The 7 Stuifzand municipalities are more and more facing challenges that the cities have known for a long time. We see an increase in the number of people living in poverty and loneliness, including single-parent families and elderly people. The number of newcomers in our region is increasing. Dutch is not the mother tongue of many residents.
The major challenge for our region is to ensure that these vulnerable groups connect with society and local communities. The social and cultural fabric of the Kempen is changing and becoming more diverse. The seven libraries want to contribute to this fabric by transforming it from a ‘classic’ library with a focus on collections into a social library where communication and communities are central. This transformation starts with the people who work in the library and affects the members and visitors of this place.
There are two interlinked models that seemed very interesting to us as an answer to the challenges we are facing. The library as a third place and the community librarian. The project had to live up to our knowledge of this. We want to experience this ourselves, see how it works and what it means for the role of the library and its staff.
The knowledge we gained is the source for our own Kempen model of the third place and our competence profile of a community librarian. It is the start of a transition process towards that third place with those community librarians. We change small and big things in our operations and our staff to evolve into a library as a third place with community librarians as employees.