The First Bookless Library- It’s Here in the SCR!
Staff members at the newest branch of the Bexar County Public Library System in San Antonio, TX are calling it the first “bookless library.” In addition to its catalog of 10,000 e-books, BiblioTech also provides a digital lifeline to a low-income neighborhood. BiblioTech opened its doors Sept. 14 on the south side of San Antonio, a mostly Hispanic neighborhood where 40% of households don’t have a computer and half lack broadband Internet service.
Although the library houses no printed books — and members can even skip the visit by checking out its e-books online — BiblioTech’s staff says the library’s physical presence is still key to its success. BiblioTech’s efforts have attracted 7,000 members so far, and staffers relish sharing anecdotes about the people who walk through their doors.
The 4,800-square-foot space looks more like an Apple store or a Google breakroom than a library, with brilliant orange walls and a playroom for children (of all ages!) with plush seats and big screens. The space houses lots of devices for in-library use: 45 Apple iPads, 40 laptops, and 48 desktop computers, and more.
The initial idea for BiblioTech came from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a self-described book fiend who felt libraries aren’t evolving with technology. Wolff gathered about a half-dozen county employees to brainstorm ideas for a library that would help an underserved neighborhood in a truly modern way. Last October, the group began researching to find other libraries that had gone completely digital — but they couldn’t find any. So, they worked to create one.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit BiblioTech last week, while in the San Antonio area — and even have the T-shirt to prove it! If you’re in the area, check it out!