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First US Public Library With No Paper Books Opens In Texas 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-rifles-and-cowboy-hats dept.
cold fjord writes "Bexar Country in Texas has opened a new $2.3 million library called BiblioTech. It doesn't have physical books, only computers and e-reader tablets. It is the first bookless public library system in the U.S. The library opened in an area without nearby bookstores, and is receiving considerable attention. It has drawn visitors from around the U.S. and overseas that are studying the concept for their own use. It appears that the library will have more than 100,000 visitors by year's end. Going without physical books has been cost effective from an architecture standpoint, since the building doesn't have to support the weight of books and bookshelves. A new, smaller library in a nearby town cost $1 million more than Bexar Country's new library. So far there doesn't appear to be a problem with returning checked out e-readers. A new state law in Texas defines the failure to return library books as theft."
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First US Public Library With No Paper Books Opens In Texas

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  • Re:Why bother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LikwidCirkel (1542097) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @05:21PM (#45867001)
    You're confusing medium with content. Physical books are not important in themselves - it's the content within them that's important, and that does not have to be tied to a particular medium. One can be very well-read nowadays without ever laying hands on dead trees.
  • Re:Why bother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jabberw0k (62554) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @05:41PM (#45867093) Homepage Journal

    If I wanted to read the Internet, I could stay home. Print on paper is an utterly different experience. You know -- Tactile, spatial (how far into the book you are, what side of the page) -- not to mention, you can slip bookmarks into pages, photocopy them, and pass them around between several people.

    When I check half a dozen books out of the library, I read one, I pass it along to Mom while she's reading another, and to Dad, and my brother... How do you propose doing that with a bunch of e-books?

  • Re:Why NOT bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by (245670) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @06:02PM (#45867167)

    while paper books actually do have some advantages...most libraries do not carry multiple copies of that book. A major advantage here is that every one of their readers can have the exact same book on it at the exact same time so 12 people in 12 households can all enjoy it at the same time.

    Except reality doesn't work that way. Those wacky rights-holders still expect to be paid for content. Whoda thunk it?

    Electronic libraries have been around for years. Other than the paper, they work pretty much the same. The library licenses the content and is allowed to lend out X copies of the titles they license. If X+8 people want to borrow the same title, the 8 go on a wait list just like they would for a paper book. And the libraries often only have partial collections. They may have 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 of a series but not books 4 and 6. Why? Heck if I know but they do. Or sometimes they'll have the entire series but only 1 copy for each book so it can take forever to get them all in the correct order because book 3 has a wait list of 40 people.

  • Re:Why bother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj245 (732906) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @07:02PM (#45867433) Homepage

    A library without books is... pointless.

    A library which focuses primarily on books is ... almost pointless.

    Libraries are there to help improve the general level of education of the nearby population. Storing and lending books were by far the most important functions of libraries when books were the primary source of information in our culture. That is not even close to true anymore. I spend over $200 per month on books at Amazon each month, so I am a heavy reader, but I still consume most information online. And I was a holdout when it came to getting an e-reader, but over half of my book reading is now done on my iPad. In fact the reason I finally bought an iPad last year is because I found myself reading books from my phone far more often than reading paper books, and I wanted a better form factor.

    Like it or not, the Internet is a better source of most information now. So libraries need to adapt to that in order to perform their function as education centers. That means more real estate for computers and less for books. With less emphasis on books libraries can also focus on more personal relationships with the community. I go to about five lectures at my local library per year and find them very interesting. I think other services like tutoring and job skill training make a lot of sense in modern libraries as well. I know my local library has many classes each season such as basic accounting, how to appeal your real estate assessment, computer training, etc. These are all far more important than renting out books IMHO.

    The problem with a library full of e-books currently is the licensing, which the 'article' unhelpfully doesn't discuss at all. Libraries buy books and they own them. Or people can donate books and then the library owns them. You don't own an e-book, you license it. Most licenses for ebooks for libraries go on a per-checkout model where the library has to pay for each checkout. Suddenly the library isn't a place where you can buy a book, read it once, donate it to the library, and support them that way.

    If the library owns the books, then they have a collection, and that collection is a community asset. If the library has to pay for each checkout, I feel that any donation is just subsidizing poor/cheap people's amazon ebook purchases. You can't donate ebooks to the library so all this money has to come from taxes/cash donations. Ultimately at that point the library is an expensive internet cafe and a place taxpayer money is funneled into Amazon in an inefficient way.

  • A legit question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @08:37PM (#45867841)
    Is there a way to determine that the ebook has not been altered?

    I can think of several places where groups of people would like to control the information, and many who would do it if they could

    Many on the Religious right would like to either scrub or reword evolutionary and or biological references. Physics and astronomy texts are a little suspect also.

    Many on the industrial right would want to alter, remove references research in Greenhouse gas

    Many on the left might like to remove non-PC texts

    No doubt many groups would find objectionable stuff they would like to change. Any of these groups might like to alter or remove text, and if public bookburning events are any indication, it's pretty pointless to argue that they wouldn't.

    Some sort of trusted authority with a massive hashtag listing?

    Although I would really enjoy the rewritten stories about Jesus and the founding fathers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and working tirelessly to end slavery.

  • Re:Why NOT bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid (1252388) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @10:50PM (#45868367)

    In short: Artificial Scarcity is economically untenable

    Tell that to de Beers.

    But I think you're right that infinite supply pushes things to zero price. I also think that writers are going to continue to write, because writers have to write. Poverty is already the norm for writers, and chopping off the very top of the bell curve, i.e. those vanishingly few writers who do manage to pull in mega-bucks, probably won't influence the quality of literature much at all. It might even improve it.

    I worry more about journalism. We desperately need to maintain a corps of professional, quality journalists to maintain a functioning democracy. And they have to not only be paid, but have their professional work (foreign correspondents, investigative reporters) properly financed. That's expensive, and advertising support is probably going to be a failing model going forward. Likewise subscriptions. The best television journalism right now is either privately financed (Al Jazeera) or publicly financed (BBC). In the U.S., we're stuck with Anderson Cooper.

  • Re:Why bother (Score:4, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @01:14AM (#45868839)

    What you describe is common. When I was unemployed I spoke to many folks who had to rely on the library or the PCs at the unemployment office to searcha and manage job applications as well as their unemployment insurance documentation.
    Internet access is a necessity for the unemployed.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy