The Third Place: The Library as Collaborative and Community Space in a Time of Fiscal Restraint
The “new normal” is a period of fiscal constraint in which assumptions about the library as place are being challenged. The phrase, in its current sense of a long-term shift from one set of business conditions to another, has been around since the dot.com bust of 2001. The phrase was first used in this current iteration by Roger McNamee, a venture capitalist and something of a guru in the new media and information technology fields (Fast Company 2002). However, the phrase has been used to describe new long-term business conditions or changed circumstances since at least the recession of the early 1990’s (Davis 1990; Gwyn 1992). The term generally has connotations of tougher times in which we are exhorted to concentrate on business fundamentals rather than quick profits and visionary schemes. In this sense, it is a useful way to think about librarianship in the second decade of the
21st century. Since the recession of 2007, most academic libraries have found themselves in a period of fiscal constraint as the institutions they serve and that fund them face budget cuts, calls to restrain tuition increases, declining revenues, and lower income from endowments.