Texas County Plans Bookless Library

March 12, 2013

Is this initiative too little too late? We hope not. The blog over at public-sector IT firm GCN informs us, “Bookless Library Foreshadows Next-Gen Students, Learning Technologies.” The post lauds Bexar County, Texas, for its forward-thinking plan to launch a bookless branch. However, it also notes that how they approach the project can make the difference between a crucial resource for study and “just a nice place for a cup of coffee and texting with friends.” Writer Paul McCloskey explains:

“The project, called BiblioTech, would offer about 10,000 titles that patrons could check-out and access remotely via e-readers and mobile devices, as well as about 100 tablets, laptops and desktop computers that will be made available inside the branch.  Technical help with computers would be offered to patrons, but reference assistance would be cut.”

He goes on to caution:

“Over the long run, simply offering digital or mobile access to its collection is a pretty old technology model. . . . To maintain a healthy level of patronage, libraries, like schools, will have to keep up with the latest media formats, including social media, intelligent browsing and educational gaming.”

Cutting reference assistants with heartbeats may be the first mistake, he asserts, and I agree. Still, the county is to be commended for changing with the times (even if it seems a bit belated to some of us.) If done well, this could set a good precedent for learning centers in the 21st century.

Cynthia Murrell, March 12, 2013

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