Living Sustainably: Herrick District Library is Holland’s ‘third space’

By Andrea Goodall, Herrick District Library

If you walk into Herrick District Library any day of the week, you are likely to see rich and poor, young and old, people every hue of the rainbow.

In between home (the first space) and work (the second space) is the hangout (the third space). It’s a space where people come together to have a good time, share amongst themselves and learn from others.

Herrick District Library strives to be a third space for the Holland area.

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg pioneered the idea of third spaces in 1989. Informal spaces where people gather over a cup of coffee or a common idea help create a sense of community, stabilize neighborhoods and advance community knowledge. They support a sustainable community.

At Herrick District Library (HDL), people can gather around a lunch from the café, use free Wi-Fi to access the world, study in quiet, isolated spaces, or meet to engage in dialogue in groups of five to 200.

Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore and HDL soon will explore topics as diverse as community policing, seed saving (in anticipation of HDL’s upcoming seed library project), environmental awareness through fly fishing and a Green Commute Expo ahead of the 2018 Green Commute Week. Look for more on those events soon.

What all these events share in common is the purpose of advancing community knowledge and improving quality of life in the Holland area.

The January series “Curious About …” will teach people about a number of technologies that can make the lives of those living with disabilities (and everyone) better. That includes hands-free technology and assistive devices, 3D printing, and free audio and braille books.

Also in January, the preschool fair will give parents of little ones an idea of resources the area has to offer.

The library always has story times for children from birth to 5 years old, instilling a love of language and learning at an early age and giving caregivers skills to teach literacy at home. A new, special needs adult story time is a half hour of fun books, songs and fellowship led by Camp Sunshine staff.

And consider that future leaders aren’t simply born; they are nurtured and grown. Herrick District Library’s Teen Advisory Board, Lakeshore Youth Leadership and Social Justice Club, whose members designed a program that brought together people from across generations to knit scarves for those in need, all work to that end.

And a new Kids Advisory Board will bring youth in third through fifth grades into the fold when it begins meeting in January.

HDL has just too many third space programs to list here, but find more about all these and other events at

— Andrea Goodell is the community relations associate at Herrick District Library.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.


Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.