With the scores of e-readers and tablets sold last holiday season, there’s no doubt that the era of printed reading material is on its way out — at least to some degree. One of America’s first bookless libraries has been proposed in Bexar County, Texas. After reading Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of the late Steve Jobs, Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff became inspired to develop and implement a bookless library system. The proposed library will be similar to an Apple store, with patrons bringing in their devices to load up with digital books and the like. Patrons without an e-reader or tablet will be able to check out one of the library’s 150 e-readers.
Bexar county is in a unique position. With no public library system already in place, Bexar county pays $3.7 million per year to San Antonio city for access to its library. If the new bookless library system goes into effect, it could provide a new model for libraries in less populous areas, as well as other well established library systems. The library system, named BiblioTech, will give county residents access to e-books online and at it’s 5,000 square foot physical location.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, also in Bexar county, has already gone bookless, as well as Stanford University’s engineering school.
With much community support for this project, it may just be Texas that helps usher in the next era of America’s public libraries. Although many other well established public libraries in the US offer e-books checkouts as well as print, Wolff’s proposed library is one of a kind. For now. The demise of printed reading material has been preached for some years now, and 2013 looks to be the year these predictions could start to come to fruition.