BiblioTech, the nation’s first bookless library, isscheduled to open this fall on the south side of San Antonio.
BiblioTech will house desktop computers for on-site users,as well as tablets, e-readers and laptops available to check out for two weeksat a time.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and County CommissionerSergio Rodriguez, along with other county leaders, led plans for the launch ofthe new library, which will be an addition to Bexar County’s existing municipallibrary system.
Library card-holders will have access to thousands ofe-books and audiobooks that they can temporarily check out via their ownelectronic devices, including smartphones.
“You will be able to check out a book and read iton-site,” Wolff told ABC News. “It will be a learning environment—you’ll beable to learn about technology itself as well as access a tremendous amount ofinformation.”
According to Wolff, the library will also becost-effective. The roughly 5,000-square-foot building will be constructed on anexisting Bexar county property at 3505 Pleasanton Road using $1.5 million ofleftover funding from the county. Some of this funding will be allocated topurchase an initial inventory of 10,000 e-books.
“Most libraries are in big buildings,” Wolff said.“If this works right, we’ll be able to go into shopping centers.”
Attempts at opening completely digital libraries have beenmade before, but none of them are completely paperless. For example, in 2002, asimilar idea for a digital library was established in Tucson, Ariz., but thelibrary eventually added paper books to their stockpile.
BiblioTech will be the first paperless public library inthe nation. “We’ve called everywhere, and I don’t believe anybody’s done thisbefore,” Wolff said.
Digital technology in libraries has been moreprevalent in the past several years. In 2011, Amazon.com announced that, forthe first time ever, sales of e-books surpassed sales of physical books. In thesecond quarter of 2012, e-book sales comprised 22 percent of all book spending—anincrease of 8 percent from 2011.
The shift from paper books to digital books in librariesfirst began in academia. In 2009, UTSA’s Applied Engineering and TechnologyLibrary was established as one of the first bookless libraries on a universitycampus in the nation. UTSA Libraries also established Special Collections,which offers a large array of historical primary resources in digital formats.
According to County Commissioner Sergio Rodriguez,BiblioTech is expected to improve the learning environment of San Antonio’ssouth side.
“It’s really going to change the way that our residentsbegin to incorporate technology, reading and learning into their daily lives,” Rodriguez said.
The date of Bibliotech’s opening has not been set.