The phrase "bookless libraries" arrives with a dull, oxymoronic thud, enough to get the blood of any bibliophile boiling. It's the sort of thud made in the 1980s by doomed reports promising a "paperless office". Anyone who remembers that much-mocked slogan might well shrug off this latest idea as overheated punditry. Or perhaps they should think again, as the world's first completely paperless public library is scheduled to open this summer in Bexar County, Texas, in the United States.
Bexar County's so-called BiblioTech is a low-cost project with big ambitions. Its first branch will be in a relatively poor district on the city of San Antonio's South Side. It will have 100 e-readers on loan, and dozens of screens where the public will be able to browse, study, and learn digital skills. However it's likely most users will access BiblioTech's initial holding of 10,000 digital titles from the comfort of their homes, wayout in the Texas hinterland.
It will be a truly bookless library - although that is not a phrase much to the liking of BiblioTech's project co-ordinator, Laura Cole. She prefers the description "digital library" - after all, there will be books there, but in digital form.
Courtesy of Dan Poytner & Para Publishing