Discuss: Going Bookless


So, have you heard about this new, bookless library?

Bexar County in Texas, which houses the city of San Antonio, will be building a bookless library and I’m just not sure how to feel about it. Without actual, physical books on shelves, the library — which will be cleverly called BiblioTech — will obviously rely on e-readers and e-books. According to the Publishers Weekly article linked above, the library would be “open into evening hours, available to registered County residents, and would provide access to up to an anticipated 10,000 ebook titles, supported with a pool of up to 100 e-readers.” BiblioTech will have a heavy concentration on children’s literature and on providing resources to rural communities. The project also boasts a focus on citizen education, hoping to foster a more informed population in Bexar County.

Yes, these sound like good and lofty goals. But one line of this Publishers Weekly article really got to me. Judge Wolff, a politician who is behind the BiblioTech endeavor, has decided that, “providing a mix of services centered on Internet access and access to e-books is a cost effective strategy for providing information resources and library services.”

Cost effective. I’m sorry, but those words have far too much of the board room about them for a library. For me, a library is about as far from the board room and the corporate world as you can get.

While I see the merits in this idea, and while I know that it really is cost effective in these cash-strapped times, there’s still something that rubs me wrong about BiblioTech. I don’t know what the finished product will look like, but I keep picturing a wide open building set in stark white, with e-readers mounted on the walls or on dais around the room, and computer kiosks scattered around. That’s not a library to me. To me, a library means musty pages, shelves to hide in between and alcoves where you can curl up with a good book. An actual book with turn-able pages.

Now that you know how I feel, I’d love to know what you think of this bookless library. Please leave a comment and share your opinions!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan