Bookless Public Library?

Image of bank of computers in a public library“It sounds like an oxymoron, but come the fall of 2013, San Antonio’s Bexar County is going to be home to the BiblioTech, the country’s first book-less public library. Of course, there will be books — just e-books, not physical books. […]

Instead of aisles and aisles of books there will be aisles and aisles of computers and gadgets. At the start, it will have 100 e-readers available for circulation and to take out, and then 50 e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets on site.” 

– Text and image from an ABC News report on BiblioTech

As I read the above announcement, it brought tears to my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology but there comes a time when enough is enough. As a genealogist, historian and preservationist I worry about the direction technology is taking us. Future generations will be exempt from handling or viewing actual historical documents. I have even more concern for the documents of today and tomorrow. They will all be done on computers, what few paper documents that turn up will be scanned and turned into a digital format. Any archivists will tell you, digital imaging is not preservation.

Technology is taking away the personal touch that all humans desire and need. I cannot imagine living in the no paper world; never being able to handle that love note written from Grandpa to Grandma or touch that old marriage license or clutch Mom’s favorite recipe book close to my heart.

However, I have no say in the matter as it has started with the bookless library and who knows where it will be in twenty years. I can only hope to be in Heaven by then, holding my family Bible in my hands.

I would like to hear your views on the Bookless Public Library.

– Jackie Roberts, Genealogy Branch Manager.

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2 Responses to Bookless Public Library?

  1. This makes me sad. I am all for technology; I love my Kindle. I love doing genealogy research from the comfort of my own home. But I also love research trips. I love the musty smell of an old library. I love the new carpet smell in new libraries. I love sitting in a comfy chair in the library’s reading room. There is so much information out there that is not, and probably never will be, in digital form.
    Is this a completely new facility to be built or is it replacing an existing traditional library?

  2. Amy B. says:

    I’m all for technology, it’s convenient, fast, and–nowadays–highly portable. There’s nothing wrong with e-books, digital magazines/newspapers, etc. But what happens when an all-digital journal goes out of business? What happens if all our records are stored on outdated formats? Who still has a reel-to-reel tape machine, for example? Anyone who’s ever had to have old home movies transferred to VHS or DVD knows this problem. Paperless libraries aren’t a bad thing, there’s a place for them. What *is* bad is if all (or a vast majority of) libraries become paperless, then we run the risk of not being able to access older information, or that access becoming more difficult. Information is a kind of history, and as they say, those who don’t know it are doomed to repeat it.

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