Jan 22, 2013 No Comments ›› Spit Stixx
Excerpted from My SA: The nation’s first bookless library is on its way to the South Side.
County officials recently approved a pilot program to establish BiblioTech, an e-library where e-books can be directly downloaded to tablets, smart phones, PCs and e-readers in place of physical books.
BiblioTech is set to be located in the existing County-owned satellite office at 3505 Pleasanton Road, and in operation by the end of the summer.
Laura Cole, Bexar County government relations aide, said officials plan to make 10,000 titles available at the library and expand that number as the site’s effectiveness becomes clear.
Cole says initial funding from the county comes at a one-time payment of $1.5 million identified from left-over county funds.
Additionally, 2013 operational costs are estimated at $110,000, while those costs for future years come to $690,000 identified from contingency funds.
Cole said county officials identified growth in unincorporated areas of the county where residents had to travel greater distances to reach a library before deciding where to house the facility.
She added BiblioTech will have the capacity for about 50 on-site users, with around 25 laptops and tablets for public use.
Additionally, about 165 e-readers will be available, some of which will have advanced features including text-to-speech software and animation.
Bexar County is one of two counties in the state that supports a municipal library system explained County Commissioner Kevin Wolff. BilbioTech will serve as the first Bexar County library which will bring books to the public in a new, technologically-driven way, he added.
Wolff said patrons to BiblioTech can access books via their own devices, or rent an e-reader from the facility in the same way one would rent a physical book.
“You try to look around the country to find something like this and you can’t,” Wolff said. “You go into any other public library today and their computers are being used as much as their books.”
If the facility proves successful, he added, the next logical step is expansion. Exactly how that expansion might take place is not yet known.
County Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez said the new facility brings an exciting concept of technology and education to the South Side and Bexar County.
Rodriguez noted many area schools do not have adequate equipment for all of their students to be involved in large scale projects.
BiblioTech will enable schools to use equipment that would otherwise be unavailable to many, and offer space for students to study in a group setting after school and extracurricular activities, he said.