How a British Library is Fighting Loneliness with a Public Living Room

Public libraries are home to a lot of things besides books these days: makerspaces, cultural programs, art events, coworking spaces, teen centers, Libraries of Things, tool libraries and more. But one library in Blackpool, England is using its space to fight loneliness and isolation on a very human scale—by creating a public living room.

Dubbed the Living Room, the space “probably looks a lot like your grandma’s house,” founder Maff Potts told CityLab, of the many sofas and comfy chairs that invite people to sit down and stay a while. The Living Room also offers cakes, coffee and pay-it-forward meals for those who can’t afford them.

Building on the success of the space in Blackpool, a second Living Room is being built in Rotherham. There are also two scheduled to open this winter in New York city (Manhattan and Brooklyn).

The Living Room in Blackpool, England. Credit: Camerados.

The Living Room is a project of Camerados, Potts’s nonprofit with a mission to end social isolation. Explaining that people in need of social services, whether for homelessness, addiction or health and mental illness issues, often get hurried through a system of forms and appointments, Potts has created a welcome alternative with the Living Rooms. “You can come sit all day,” he told CityLab. “It’s up to you to engage with it as much as you want.”

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