Users check out e-readers rather than physical texts:
World's first paperless public library in Texas
In the world's first bookless public library in the US state of
Texas, the rows-upon-rows of books that fill traditional libraries have
been replaced with high-tech gadgets that cater to both adults and
Instead of taking home books, registered residents of the south Texas
county of Bexar - which has never had a public library or a bookstore -
will be able to access over tens of thousands of titles from e-readers
Since September, the county's 1.7 million residents have been able to
check out and take home the machines, as well as use their own devices
to access the library's catalogue.
A view of the paperless library.
According to its website, the $1.5 million (£920,000) BiblioTech
currently has 600 e-readers, 200 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for
children, and 48 computer stations, 10 laptops and 40 tablets to use
It claims its mission is to give the county's residents with
"necessary tools to thrive as citizens of the 21st century" for the
"purposes of enhancing education and literacy" and "promoting reading as
Children play on a tablet at the Bexar County Bibliotech Laura Cole,
special project coordinator at BiblioTech, told the Metro:
"We wanted to create the best, most cost-effective way of providing
library services to a population that is geographically distanced from
existing services and a digital library was an obvious choice.
"Geography doesn't matter if your library is in the cloud," she said,
referring to the 'cloud' system where the library's books are stored
Addressing concerns that library users may be put off by technology,
she said: "The thing that excites me most is that our staff can dedicate
their time to helping visitors."They aren't tied up re-shelving, filing
They spend most of their time providing one-on-one instruction with
visitors, teaching people how to use devices and how to source
materials. It's a more interactive library experience," she told the
Replacement costs have also been factored in to the project. To
prevent thefts, devices cannot access the internet once they leave the
"For the taxpayer, it's far more economical to build and maintain an
e-library," Dr Robert Schwarzwalder, an associate university librarian
for the science and engineering department at Stanford University said.
"Traditional libraries require much larger load-tolerances in
construction due to the weight of materials, so are more costly to
build. Book collections also need environmental controls that are costly
to maintain," he said.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff who instigated the scheme is an avid
reader and a keen collector of first edition texts, but told "the world
is changing and this is the best, most effective way to bring services
to our community."