A library without books? It sounds like an oxymoron, but some believe that as a technological evolution is taking place, it is only a matter of time before all libraries go digital. The initiative for USA’s first digital library has been pushed forward by County Judge Nelson W. Wolff, who told The San Antonio Express News, that he was inspired to develop a bookless library after reading Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. According to Wolff, whose personal library contains more than 1,000 printed and bound first edition, “It’s not a replacement for the (city) library system, it’s an enhancement… We wanted to find a low-cost, effective way to bring reading and learning to the county and also focus on the change in the world of technology. It will help people learn”.
San Antonio’s Bexar County is going to be home to this bookless e-library. The library will make thousands of e-books available for county residents, but instead of shelves with books, readers visiting the library will only find hard discs with e-books and all necessary digital devices to read them.
This unique library, dubbed BiblioTech, will be housed in an existing county-owned building of 4,989 square-feet. It will look like a traditional library, but instead of aisles and aisles of books, there will be aisles and aisles of computers and gadgets (portable computers, tablets and e-readers).
Library goers will be able to take out books for a period of time, of course not physical books, but the e-readers and any e-books they like. Alternatively, they can bring their own e-readers to the library and load books onto their own devices. They will be able to check the books back in to the library remotely, via Internet.
Readers will also be able to read a book on-site, using an e-reader. Furthermore, the library will provide information and knowledge about new technologies, in order to help readers who are not familiar with the use of computers (e.g. elderly readers). There will also be a special space for children, where the young readers will get acquainted with the use of e-readers.
The library will be partnering with e-book providers or distributors to provide access to over 10,000 titles. The hope is to add to that collection annually.
Still, it won’t be a completely paper-free library. Library goers will be able to print out something, and this will be the only thing the library will charge for, as Wolff said.