Walking into Texas’ newest library is like entering a high-end electronics store — the design is sleek with computers and tablets neatly spaced throughout the building. While patrons can use a variety of cutting-edge devices, the one thing they won’t find in this library is books, at least in the traditional sense. The Bexar County BiblioTech is a digital library; a place where community members go (or access remotely) to download e-books. And those who don’t have an e-reader or tablet can check out one of the 600 devices available to patrons.
One of my favorite things to do when I didn’t have any discretional money to spend (or really, even when I did have money to spend) was go to one of the New York Public libraries and spend a day going down every aisle browsing all the books to find a random interesting book to read (I didn’t know I wanted to read a book about cognitive therapy or an unauthorized biography of Anna Wintour until those books came before my eyes). The new Bexar County BilbioTech Library is less aisle-browsing and more Apple Store (the library was inspired by Steve Jobs, according to Government Technology, and county officials have compared the digital library to an Apple Store in initial plans). If a digital library encourages more people to visit or check out books because they think it’s an Apple Store, then good—as long as the county doesn’t throw away all their old books.
Photo: Gerald Pereira