It is a library that will be called The BiblioTech and it will loan patrons books, but none of them will be hard cover, library bound print books. This new library will ‘shelf’ only electronic media. This new library has been proposed by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and County Commissioner Sergio Rodriguez, of San Antonio, Texas. Their idea is to create a library that will “offer residents access to thousands of electronic titles and computers, as well as e-readers that can be checked out by patrons.”
“BiblioTech … should not be seen as a replacement to the traditional library. It is an enhancement to the current system to which all county residents have access. The ever-changing landscape of technology means that literacy is no longer about picking up a physical book and being able to comprehend the words. Technology is changing the way we read, learn and thrive as citizens of the 21st Century,” said Judge Wolff in a statement.
They plan to have the BiblioTech open seven days a week, have study areas, community meeting rooms, and an interactive children’s area. The proposal also includes: “100 e-readers that can be loaned out, 50 pre-loaded e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets, with additional accommodations planned for the visually impaired.“
While the idea is being greeted enthusiastically by some, others are not so eager, mostly for financial reasons.
Patricia Tuohy, executive director of the Central Texas Library System said: “Many libraries are moving toward electronic materials, and if the public wants electronic media, public libraries will respond.” She also commented on the financial aspect of the digital only library saying: “A typical library branch might circulate 10,000 titles a month. To do that electronically would be cost-prohibitive — most libraries can’t afford to supply that many patrons with e-reading devices at one time. And expecting library visitors to bring their own devices may be expecting too much.” Tuohy also noted that many patrons do not have Internet access or a computer at home to take advantage of digital books. “Unless you have a lot of money or a population where everyone has an iPad, it’s too expensive.”
Although several college campuses already have digital only libraries, it may take a while before public library patrons embrace the idea.