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All-digital Bibliotech library opens in Texas, eschews paper books

updated 05:40 pm EST, Sat January 4, 2014

Library offers 48 iMacs, iPads, other tablets for client use

Last summer, a daring reimagination of the public library -- and perhaps, a testament to Apple design philosophy -- opened in Bexar County, Texas. The Bibliotech Library, bereft of printed books, opened in an underserved county with the mission of providing digital assets to the local community at a fraction of the cost and floor space of a traditional library.

The facility, free to all Bexar County residents, gives users access to BiblioTech's digital collection including e-books, audiobooks, and software training databases. Additionally, the facility provides wireless Internet access to all patrons, computer classes, e-readers for lending and circulation, programs for children and adults and a study and meeting space similar to that of a more traditional library.

The facility cost the taxpayers and donators $2.3 million dollars, and occupies a previously vacant space in a local strip mall. A conventional library currently under construction in nearby Austin will be completed at a cost of $120 million.

Artist conception of Bibliotech interior
Artist conception of Bibliotech interior

Through BiblioTech, residents of Bexar County will be able to access over 10,000 current titles through e-readers that they can check out to take home or read on the premises. Residents will also be able to use their own e-readers or tablets to access the collection.

BiblioTech currently has 600 e-readers, 200 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for children, 48 computer stations, 10 laptops and 40 tablets to use on-site. Additional e-reading accommodations are made for the visually impaired. Tablets are available for check-out of materials for home consumption, and the library reports that as of yet, none have gone missing or unreturned.

The facility makes use of the 3M eBook service, which eliminates the danger of late return fees as the content is automatically deleted from the device upon expiration of the lending period. In addition to the 3M service, the library provides access to Zinio magazines, OneClick Digital content, ProQuest career and technical education, technology tutorials from Atomic Training, Mango language learning, Ancestry library edition, Project Gutenberg, LibriVox audio books, Project Muse scholarly journals, and the Digital Public Library of America.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Quote: "The facility makes use of the 3M eBook service, which eliminate the danger of late return fees, as the content is automatically deleted from the device upon expiration of the lending period."

    Did it every occur to 3M that people might rather pay those late return fees rather than see an ebook they were reading suddenly disappear? And did it every occur to 3M that people just might like the option of rechecking that ebook? Of course, my hunch is that this idea came from the dimly lit minds of those publishers who still don't get how ebooks ought to work. They still think in terms of owning and selling rather than renting.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    We have several beautiful, traditional libraries scattered about San Antonio that still offer traditional books with traditional late fees, for those like you that are overly concerned about circumstances that will probably rarely happen (or that have alternate solutions not mentioned in this article, like re-checking-out an eBook remotely over the internet so as to avoid sudden deletion of the content).

    A simple Google search of the FAQs of some of the libraries across the nation that are currently using the 3M eBook service show that books can be re-checked-out without having to return to the library to do so, and in this scenario, the reader's place/bookmark in the book is saved so that it's a very seamless process and no one "loses their place" in the book during the re-check-out process.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    In places where land is very expensive (like cities), this is a much better use of taxpayer money IMO.

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