Earlier this month a new library opened in Bexar County, Texas. This library is the first of its kind: a public library that is completely digital. It is filled with computers and e-readers instead of books. It essentially functions much like a regular library. People are allowed to check out books, but obviously they are all e-books. For people that do not have e-readers, they can get borrow e-readers or use the ones at the library.
I have mixed feelings about this kind of library. It’s really cool to have instant access to a large selection of books, but it seems weird to imagine a library without real books. I like perusing the aisles in the library. I’ve discovered good books by doing so that I never would have noticed otherwise. It’s just not the same perusing books online.
It will be interesting to see how well this library does. A lot of people, myself included, have adapted quite well to e-books and e-readers. But many people out there are book purists, and they believe the only way to read a book is to hold it in their hands. My guess would be that this library would do just as well as any other. It may lose some patrons who only want to read real books. In the long run, it’s doubtful it would gain extremely large numbers of new patrons. People who are not readers won’t be interested just because it’s 100% digital now. There may be an increase in patrons at first until the novelty of it wears off. Unless this library fails miserably, which isn’t likely, I doubt this type of library will remain the only one of its kind for long.