A library without books?
BiblioTech is an all-digital, public library outside San Antonio, Texas run by Bexar County that opened last September. Designed like an Apple store, the library has two long tables with 48 iMacs, an IPad bar, and a circulation desk. Through another door, patrons will find a room with Xbox 360s with Kinect and Microsoft Surface video tables loaded with Kaplan educational games.
A tiny café sells coffee, flash drives, and headphones. The back of the area has space for patrons to bring their own devices and connect to the wireless Internet.
The library has 10 MacBook Pros and 40 iPads available for checkout by the hour for use in the library. Bibliotech has 600 e-readers and 200 pre-loaded e-readers for children available for home use. Patrons can select up to five eBooks from a collection of 18,000 titles. After a checkout period of two weeks, the book just disappears from the device.
6,000 people visited the library during its first week, borrowing 180 e-readers.
Judge Nelson Wolff of Bexar County, an avid book collector who is credited with the BiblioTech vision, explained the initiative in an NPR interview in October. First, the County wanted to bring library services to the community at a competitive price. BiblioTech cost $2.3 million to create with a yearly operating cost of $1.1 million. In comparison, a conventional library currently being built in Austin will cost $120 million. Second, another goal was to narrow the digital divide. BiblioTech would bring access to the internet and digital devices to an economically disadvantaged area. While Judge Wolff acknowledged that not every book is in eBook format and that BiblioTech is not fulfilling that role, he points out that the library is providing access to information and other digital resources that are not available in that community. The county plans to extend BiblioTech’s reach to shopping districts, transit stations, and large businesses.
- Bookless library in Texas aims to ‘break down the barriers to reading.’ (2013). Washington, D.C.: National Public Radio. Retrieved from ProQuest Research Library database.
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- Electronista staff. (2014, January 4). All-digital Bibliotech library opens in Texas, eschews paper books. Retrieved from http://www.electronista.com/articles/14/01/04/library.offers.48.imacs.ipads.other.tablets.for.client.use/
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