I am a reader first, and a book lover second. I think this should be the case for anyone for whom the written word is a passion. I thought I would forever hate the concept and practice of reading electronically, but the cost-effectiveness and being able to effortlessly give into my impulse buying habits have made my Nook something that must always be within arm’s length. But I’m not crazy enough to think I’ll ever live in a world without libraries or anything. But what about a library without any books?
San Antonio’s Bexar County is set to open the country’s first bookless public library system, called BiblioTech, along with leaders from several other Texas counties. I firmly stand behind that name. The first location will be opening on the South Side in the fall. This idea follows the University of Texas San Antonio, which opened the nation’s first bookless academic library in 2010, and county judge and project spearheader Nelson Wolf was inspired by the Steve Jobs biography, and likens the idea to Apple stores.
The idea behind the project is multi-headed, with one reason being the obvious draw of hitting upon a popular and under-utilized area, such as electronic books. But the other lies in San Antonio’s rising costs to provide counties with access to the city’s public libraries, which nearly doubled in a year from $3.7 million to $6.7 million.
Many libraries already offer the e-solution to people’s reading fixes, but this will be the only one solely in the digital game, and the plan is to offer the actual e-readers for patrons to rent out, just like the books. The books will be allowed out for two weeks, after which the temporary license will expire. Employees will be there on site to help with anyone’s questions and needs. I’m assuming, even though part of its purpose is to introduce cheaper reading technology to less affluent areas, you’ll probably need to put a credit card down to avoid theft issues. But maybe not. Maybe the trust will stay strong. As someone whose mother made him return two Kevin Smith VHS tapes to a Blockbuster which had burned down and retained no customer records, I might believe in this.