Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh, Great...World's First Public Library with No Books

So here we go again...another example of a bookless library that caters to the lowest common denominator in the name of being "cutting edge." According to the Mail Online website, "The world's first public library with no books...is scheduled to open this fall in San Antonio, Texas." And the misguided fool who designed it, Nelson Wolf, is quoted in the same article as saying, "If you want to get an idea what it looks like, go to an Apple store." Well, excuse me for being both unimpressed and underwhelmed by that mental picture, Nelson.
The plan is to turn a 4,989 square-foot county building into a sleek, modern space that will have 100 e-readers available for circulation and to take out, 50 e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets.
County residents will be able to take out books on any of the devices in the library, take out one of the 50 e-readers for a period of time or bring their own e-readers to the library and load books onto their own devices.

Take a look at those numbers for just a second: 100 e-readers available for loan to patrons, 25 laptops, 25 tablets, 50 computer stations, and an additional 50 e-readers dedicated strictly for use by children.  And all of 10,000 e-books to choose from (big whoop).  So the entire facility (I refuse to call this atrocity a library) will service a grand total of 250 people at a time...counting the walk-aways who take e-readers home with them.

Of course, there will be wifi for walk-ins who bring their own devices.  But why would they want to do that when they can already download library e-books from home anyway?  

 Does no one realize that "cutting edge" is a two-way sword and that not everything need, or should, be cutting edge? Stupid, stupid, stupid...another Starbucks-without-coffee being funded by public tax dollars.


  1. There is potential for e-only libraries in the future (I don't see libraries with physical books disappearing, simply because preservation is still considered an important goal by many libraries), but not quite yet. Vendors still stomp on libraries too much for that to be the case. I don't know if you're on Facebook at all, but, if you haven't already seen this already, you might take a look: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/thebig6ebooks The page lists examples of e-books, what libraries have to pay per copy, and any other restrictions put on libraries.

    An example:
    OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA, by Michael Pollan
    eBook $21.84 PER COPY TO LIBRARIES
    Published by Penguin

    Purchased copies will expire in one year.

    I don't see how an e-book-only public library could possibly be sustainable, or able to serve the populations more traditional libraries serve.

  2. Beyond stupid! I agree with A Library Girl in that I don't understand how it's a feasible idea. *shakes head*

    Alexia's Books and Such...

  3. Library Girl, thanks for that link. I've been aware of the problem for a while now, especially as regards some of the e-book publishers who either refuse to deal with libraries at all or price-gouge them beyond all decency. The cost per customer for a digital library would be impossible to make work for long under today's business terms regarding what libraries have to pay for e-books.

  4. It just won't work, Alexia. I don't understand how anyone with half an ounce of a business brain could jump into this kind of set-up right now.

  5. Imagine the inside of an Apple store. Yeah, right! I can hardly contain my excitement.

  6. Yeah, Susan, that image just has "Library" written all over it, doesn't it?