Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WSJ Wednesday - A Library with No Books

Sometimes an article catches your eye solely because of the title. Such was the case when I was skimming the February 7, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal and found Miguel Bustillo's article, "Library That Holds No Books."

Bexar County in Texas is set to open one of the nation's first entirely digital public libraries. According to Bustillo, skeptical librarians are keeping an eye on this one. They warn digital versions of many popular titles aren't available to libraries and they can often be more expensive than printed versions.

The move is an effort to help residents where libraries are scarce. The office will have about 10,000 titles and 150 e-readers for patrons to borrow, 50 of which are designed for children. Though there will be staff to help with technical questions, this office will have no research assistants. County officials believe this type of library will be more cost effective than traditional libraries.

The article goes on to discuss how publishers interact with libraries and the reason a move to totally digital has been slow to catch on.

As a book lover, I just about cried when I read this. It was bad enough when I walked into the library at our town's middle school and found it over half empty. The thought of these 100% digital libraries replacing traditional libraries is enough to make me sick. While my husband believes the day of the traditional public library is long gone, I can't tell you how much I depend upon our local children's librarian and the reference librarian for my writing. The Internet doesn't replace everything. And while I'm all for having libraries offering e-books, the thought of walking into a library and not being able to browse the bookshelves isn't appealing.

What do you think of this idea? Is it the wave of the future?

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