November 25, 2013

All Digital Library


Maggie: If you are reading more on digital than on paper, you are not alone. Right, Keith?

Keith: Right, Maggie. Last year, people spent more than $2 billion on eBooks, and that number is up more than 40% from 2011. And now a library in Texas is fully moving forward with the trend.

When you walk into the Bexar County Digital Library in San Antonio, Texas, you will see plenty of screens, but zero books. Bibliotech, the only bookless public library in America, is the idea and creation of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. Those who know him may not believe this because Wolff thinks printed books are important. He is a collector of rare first print edition books. This is his library at home. He also pushed through a $38 million print-only library for the city in the 1990s.

Judge Nelson Wolff: Now I look at that library today and I’m proud of it, but I’m saying, ‘what do you do with this?’

Keith: Wolff says Bibliotech costs less to operate than traditional libraries with less space and fewer workers, and it provides more.

Ashley Eklof is the head librarian.

Ashley Eklof: We’re able to focus more on patron contact aspect and the community outreach, and we don’t have to do all of the physical processing of the books.

Keith: Bibliotech was built in a neighborhood where most do not have internet access at home. The library lends out inexpensive e-readers, permits downloads from home, and teaches technology classes.

Ninety-two-year-old Jesse Vildaes just lost his wife of 60 years. He is starting a blog to remember her.

Jesse Vildaes: I could be writing that all day long.

Keith: In the back room, a space for children with cutting-edge tablets.

The $2.4 million project has not come without criticism though. The vast majority of newer, popular titles are not available. Publishers simply charge too much for the eBooks.

Wolff: It probably is a little bit ahead of time. We can’t get every book that we want in an e-format. And we are paying more for them, so we are probably a little bit ahead.

Keith: While eBooks continue to gain popularity, print still rules. Last year, 100,000 more hardcopy books were sold than eBooks.

Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.

Most libraries rent out eBooks. So even if your library isn’t totally digital, you can still go paperless if you want to.


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