When you want to read a book, do you head to your digital library selection or open up a paperback? Most people these days read digital copies of books. So much so, in fact, that many public libraries are losing readers and can’t compete with digital demands. One Texas county, Bexar County, has decided to take the digital leap. Presently, Bexar County Judge, Nelson Wolff, is working on creating the first-even all-digital library.
Much like a traditional library, card-holders can go into the Bexar County digital library and “check out” digital books. If the plan succeeds, Wolff may have found a way to save town libraries from extinction. But, there are all kinds of obstacles in the way that will have to be worked out. As far as the look of an all-digital futuristic library goes, Wolff has told press that he’s taking his cues from Steve Jobs.
Finding Library Inspiration
After reading the Steve Jobs biography (written by Walter Isaacson), Wolff decided that an all-digital library wasn’t such a crazy idea. After all, Jobs took some rather crazy ideas and turned them into gold, so why should anyone be any different? Wolff envisioned a library that was fully of computers offering digital downloads. He is even modeling the interior design of the digital library after present day Apple stores.
Patrons will visit the digital library and read through a list of digital catalogued books. Readers will then be able to check out these books by uploading them to a digital device. The library will also be renting e-readers. The advantage to a digital library is that once a book is due, it is simply retrieved (no late fines or late returns). As mentioned above, though, the cost of building and running a digital library is somewhat astronomical.
The Cost of Building a Digital Library
So far, Wolff estimates that the digital library will cost around $250,000 to get off the ground. He plans to use buildings that the county already owns to house the digital books, so that cuts back on costs slightly. But there’s another problem at hand. Right now, publishing houses charge libraries a rather hefty fee to lease books. In addition, the new digital library is bound to lose a few of those e-readers. There’s a bit of a charitable effort going on here too.
Wolff told press that the part of town where the digital library will be erected is a low-income neighborhood. Providing people who live in that part of town with access to technology such as e-readers and digital books is a great way to spread the joy of reading in addition to spreading technology. Wolff has also stated that the new digital library won’t replace the current library system, but it will act as an enhancement. If for no other reason, town residents are likely to visit the digital library just so see what it looks like.
While this will be the first digital library in the United States, something similar exists in Bucharest Metro in Bucharest, Hungary. Inside of the Metro are hundreds of book shells with QR codes that can be scanned, so that users can rent out digital books. Wolff’s vision will be unique, though. Whether or not the digital library will work remains to be seen, but it’s a truly innovative idea and forward thinking way of moving into the future.