So, this was brought to my attention recently by the podcast that I follow: Books on the Nightstand, and I just had to look further into it. This is regarding the first “book-less public library” which is due to open in Texas in Autumn of this year.
The above picture is from the ABC news webpage, and a conceptual rendering of what BIBLIOTECH in San Antonio’s Bexar County will look like. Judge Nelson Wolff was inspired to start the project after reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaccson. He describes aisles of computers and gadgets, including 100 e-readers available for circulation and to take out, 50 e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets.
“Books are important to me,” Wolff told ABC News. “But the world is changing and this is the best, most effective way to bring services to our community.” Wolff wants to encourage library goers to take out books on electronic devices, or bring their own to load books onto. He is also hoping for partnership with e-book providers to allow access to over 10,000 titles. This is just the beginning for BIBLIOTECH, but Wolff has grand ideas for exploring additional media like movies and music to be made available in the centre.
“You will be able to check out a book, read it on-site. It will be a learning environment — you’ll be able to learn about technology itself as well as access a tremendous amount of information,” Wolff said. San Antonio’s Home Page also quotes Wolff as saying that paper books have lost their allure, and that future generations may have little use for them. (???)
However, this is not the first so-called book-less library. The AET library at the University of Texas has gone for a completely digital outlook, with terminals/laptops for students to download 425,000 e-books and 18,000 e-journals. A spokesperson for the library said that space was becoming more limited for storing books, and they decided an increase in the space for study was more important. They find that they can spend more time with students rather than having their time taken up by tracking and re-shelving books.
So, what do you think? Personally, I am a big fan of libraries (the “old-fashioned” kind!) and spent most of my childhood in them. I can’t imagine a library without books, and not sure if the concept would work. Why would you go to a centre to download books on your e-reader when you can do it from the comfort of your own home? And I REALLY dispute the idea that paper books have lost their allure. Now I love my Kindle, and find it incredibly convenient at times, but will always love and appreciate the “real book.” Ahhh, the smell…the feel…..And future generations will have little use for them? – what rot. There is nothing more beautiful than what can be learned from an old book in my opinion.
Let me know your thoughts!