Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We shall soon have 'Bookless' Public Libraries

There were times when people used to go to public libraries for reading newspapers, consulting books as reference material and drawing books for pre-sleep reading at night or even during work breaks. 

I remember the days when keeping the entire 31 volumes of the Britannica in specially designed cupboards was 'in thing' and people spent a huge sum to buy the Britannica and decorate their studies and personal libraries.

But the computer came and with the advent of CD ROM, things started to take a turn. Then a day came when almost the entire Britannica could be purchased on a set of 2-CDs, with interactive photos and instant access to material required by just entering a query.

Now the e-books have entirely changed the concept of book reading and utility of public libraries.In fact paper books have lost their allure, and future generations may have little use for them.

With this theme at the back of his mind, a Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who is an unabashed book lover with 1,000 first editions in his private collection, has decided to establish paperless libraries around USA.


The library will have nothing but computers from which one will b e able to retrieve thousands and thousands of e-books and read online. Although many public libraries do provide e-books beside still maintaining the old books, Nelson Wolff says that his concept is based on paperless libraries right from the outset - that means no paper books will be available in the paperless libraries he is planning.

Wolff is inspired while reading Apple founder Steve Jobs' biography, and says he envisions several bookless libraries around the county, including in far-flung suburbs.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is a pioneer among academic institutions with bookless collections and technical libraries. Many cities, including San Antonio, offer downloadable books and other digitized information along with their paper volumes.

But no entire public library system is bookless, and unlike others, Bexar County's BiblioTech library system won't have a legacy of paper. It'll be designed for, not adapted to, the digital age, Wolff said.

The judge is aware that opposition may arise over cost  - something like $6.7 million, and need, but he's got his arguments ready. For one thing, the project starts on the South Side — where a decade ago citizens protested over lack of any bookstores there.

“We know they have less access to technology and less economic buying power than other regions of the city,” Wolff said. “Now we'll be providing them a service that anybody else that has money would have,” he said.

Read more about it at: My SA

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