If you are a bookworm who prefers to read a paperback, I don’t have any idea if you would be grateful of the newly opened bookless library in the south side of San Antonio. Yes, you read it right. There is now a bookless library, the Bexar County Digital Library which is also known as BiblioTech, which was opened last Saturday, September 7, 2013. This digital library was constructed in a 4,000-square-foot-space which costs $2.4 million of which the $1.9 million comes from the county tax and $500,000 in private donations.
BiblioTech is filled with 500 e-readers and 10, 000 e-books, 48 computers and 20 iPads and laptops which looks almost the same with an Apple store. It can cater the children’s need of a library since it has designed with child-friendly area that is conducive for their learning, a Starbucks-esque café and study rooms. Also, this digital library, any printed material are no longer available, a bookless and paperless library indeed. Back in 1990’s, the former San Antonio Mayor, who is now the Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff was not a fan of an e-reader and refused to read any e-book but a bookworm himself for having collected the first editions of modern novels in print. In fact, he helped spearheading the realization of the Central Public Library which is a 240,000 square-foot, six stories and costs $50 million. Sadly, the building is now is considered a sort of liability.
Never had it lingered in his mind to envision a bookless library since this man was not an e-book fan, but who can expect what runs in the brilliant mind of this county judge. Bexar County Digital Library is actually not the first attempt for a bookless library. Arizona’s Tucson-Pima Public Library system actually opened a branch without books but of computers. It was years after when the state had decided to incorporate printed materials for the patrons demanded it.
“I don’t think people could really envision a library without any books in it,” tells Susan Hubbard, the manager of Santa Rosa Branch Library. So, let us wait and see where this Bexar County Digital Library lands in few years from now. Will it stay bookless or be integrated with printed materials?
According to Pew Research Center, in 2012, 23% of Americans age 16 and older are already reading e-books, of which this 23% will surely hike up since it started with just 16% from the year before. On the other hand, the people who read printed books dropped from 72% to 67%.
Aside from reading, digital library is designed with areas where students could create podcasts and videos. This is to train them at an early stage and let them exposed to the things that they might encounter in their job in the future, to consider someone has to know how to get to computers to land a job. Now, the question of the many is this, is a bookless library really a library?