Could Bookless Libraries Revolutionize Access for the Poor?

By Amanda Erickson

June 4, 2013

For a long time, you could divide the library patrons of San Antonio, Texas, into two categories -- the haves and the have nots.

Inside the city limits, there was a robust library system with 26 locations and a bookmobile. Outside, in the unincorporated suburbs of Bexar County, there was no public library. For many years, there wasn't even a book store.

Blame this on a fluke of funding. The city's library budget could only be spent on projects inside the city. This was fine, until the population of Bexar County exploded. Between 2000 and 2012, the county's population jumped from 1.4 million to 1.8 million people; and a third of those new arrivals ended up in the suburbs.

According to the San Antonio Express News:

In 2000, 10 percent of the county's population lived in unincorporated areas, said Tina Smith-Dean of the county's Planning and Resource Management Department. “Now it's close to 15 percent,” she said, and by 2017, it's expected to be 18 percent.

"Patrons were getting farther and farther away from facilities," says Laura Cole, Bexar County's special projects coordinator. In response, the county pulled together funds for a sleek $1.5 million facility in the unincorporated part of the county. The 4,989-squre-foot library dubbed BiblioTech, slated to open this fall, will feature 150 e-readers (some of which patrons can check out for two weeks), 50 computer stations, 25 laptops, and 25 tablets. The project will run digital literacy courses, partner with local schools, and stay open late to ensure maximum access. Bexar's leaders have compared the project, in look and function, to an Apple store.

Read more at The Atlantic Cities

(Image via Amy Johansson/Shutterstock.com)


By Amanda Erickson

June 4, 2013

http://www.govexec.comhttp://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2013/06/could-bookless-libraries-revolutionize-access-poor/64184/