First all-digital library in the U.S. will look like an Apple Store

By on January 14, 2013, 3:30 PM

A library in Bexar County, Texas will soon be the first in the country to open without a single physical book. The fully digital public library system will be called BiblioTech and is being led by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff who got the idea for an all-digital library while reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Given Wolff’s source of inspiration, it should come as little surprise that it will be modeled after an Apple Store. The first location will open in the fall of 2013 on the south side of the county but ultimately there will be several locations. The new library won’t replace the county’s existing library system but rather will serve to complement it, Wolff said.

Officials in charge of the program plan to use buildings already owned by the county rather than constructing new facilities or leasing other structures in an effort to save money. The judge believes it will cost roughly $250,000 to get the pilot store off the ground with a catalog of around 10,000 titles.

The Verge points out that academic libraries have been adopting digital systems for several years now but public libraries have fallen behind in the transition. This is due to the fact that the public libraries have to depend on public funding which simply hasn’t been lucrative enough to pay for the digital conversion.

This isn’t the first time that a city has announced plans to open an all-digital library but thus far, each announcement has been followed by a subsequent cancelation. Any bets on whether or not Bexar County will make good on their promise?




User Comments: 9

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1 person liked this | Guest said:

Any bets that even if this does come to fruition that it'll either be empty of full of kids messing around on youtube?

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

And here in Quebec we already have Bibliotheques, just they're full of books and rarely have working computers. I also question the need for such a service, if you want to read a book you still need to go to the Library, if you want to look up a book why not just use your own PC. The better idea would be to put that funding into already existing, struggling, Libraries instead of opening Internet Cafes that are already obsolete in todays digital age. I just don't see the point. And have to point out the fact that they're going to waste a lot of money on Macs instead of PC's if they do go that route.

1 person liked this | mailpup mailpup said:

It's a library. Will you be able to borrow these books to take home?

MilwaukeeMike said:

Any bets that even if this does come to fruition that it'll either be empty of full of kids messing around on youtube?

Exactly... and people playing casino games. Adhmuz, PCs at the library are generally for people who don't own their own PCs. Its a way for low income to people to have access to email and word processing, which helps a lot with finding a job.

The impression I get is that it's being discussed as something cool and new, but it really just sounds like a normal library without the books. Libraries already have computers, this one just has more. Are they going to allow you to checkout ebooks?

3 people like this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

Sooo... the biggest waste of money?

RH00D RH00D said:

You guys realize they can just lock down the OSes to only allow exactly what they want users to do right? If they were smart they'd just run a bunch of thin-clients to virtual machines on a server and configure it so all the user sees is a custom full-screen application/webpage for browsing books, etc.

Making each machine a full-blown desktop machine with all it's own hardware is where the waste of money comes in. Although if they wanted to use thin-clients they'd have to not use Apple machines because I don't think Apple offers any thin-clients.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

"The better idea would be to put that funding into already existing, struggling, Libraries instead of opening Internet Cafes that are already obsolete in todays digital age."

I agree, what a waste of money. They can buy and distribute 800 laptops for $250K if they wanted to give access to the poor and make the whole thing online. I bet they are just dumping money into overpriced Apple computers instead of having a simple PC system which will get the job done just as well for one tenth the price..

avoidz avoidz said:

Seems more like a fan shrine to Steve Jobs rather than anything useful.

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