The world is changing and this is the best, most effective way to bring services to our community”
I work in a library. I love books. I have two full bookshelves at home and can't imagine being without them. Browsing books, flicking through pages, is a pleasure, pressing a few buttons and the odd click is just not the same!
An all digital library would miss the distinctive smell of old paper. With paperless books you would also, perhaps for the better, miss the history of the particular book and its users. The odd scribble here, the page corner folded there.
The bookless library in Texas will have 100 ebook readers. So a maximum of 100 people will be able to read its books at any one time, unless they own a computer and an internet connection in their own home. That appears to be more limited than existing "paper libraries". It would seem to be a library for those who have financial resources to afford internet connectivity and associated equipment, and excludes the poorer members of society. This seems to be at odds with the earlier vision of public libraries, that intended to bring books and other information resources to a wider audience, particularly those on lower incomes who could otherwise not afford to buy the books and newspapers themselves. I'd suggest this is a regressive step, socially speaking.
I have worked in libraries for 15 years and I think people should think less about libraries as buildings in which to house books and more as places to access and disseminate information and knowledge. To me, if you want hard copy, paper books you should visit a book shop or plan a trip to an archive. Libraries have always battled with space and storage issues and a paperless library would allow users to access information quickly at their convenience. Library users with additional needs can also have their digital materials 'tailored' to suit their own requirements e.g. large print, audio (spoken word), translation etc. I find the prospect an exciting one and more inclusive for the population as a whole.
You need ebooks and paper in equal quantities. My kindle doesn't smell the same as my real books.
Having lived in the Midwestern US for a decade, this strikes me as a great idea. It sounds as though users will be able to check out digital books over the Internet, rather than driving a distance to the library. We enjoy that convenience in Baltimore. For the vast distances of North America though, it will make life in the hinterlands that much more exciting. I could see it helping a schoolchild in Orkney or the Shetlands in the same way, for example.
I think a digital library is an exciting idea but should exist as an option alongside the paper library. The digital space is full of distractions, not too conducive to study. It requires a greater level of self control.
As a librarian I would be interested in the Texans' licensing arrangements for accessing e-books. This is a real stumbling block where publishers want to limit the number of 'loans' of an e-title, or the length of time e-access to a title will be permitted, while librarians think in terms of making items available as a service.
I think it won't be the same, first because of the smell of the books but what can happen if there is not electricity. Maybe just in develop countries this can happen faster but in third world countries it will take longer. Maybe buildings for libraries can disappear because of portability, nowadays young people prefer technology and you are able to carry it wherever you go.
I don't care which sensory experience I get, paper or ebook. I do both. However, I really enjoy reading non-bestselling novels published between 1920 and 1970, as they give a great flavor of the times. Older non-fiction can be interesting, too. Most of these books will never be digitized! I've explored a couple of dozen libraries within 40 miles of my house and found those who keep more older books on the shelves. I want them to remain
I live in Bexar County and must admit it took about three years of residence to locate (physically!) my local library. While I do not live in the same part of the county as the BiblioTech, I am delighted that the architects hope to branch the e-library system out to the rest of the County. I look forward to the day I will be able to go to the library without ever leaving home!
As a technophile, I think there's a huge amount of potential for e-books to make reading a far more convenient activity for just about everybody, especially with a new generation for whom this technology is already going to be fairly widespread. I'm entirely certain there's going to be change eventually (my own university is putting more emphasis on digitised textbooks), but it's going to be a gradual and experimental process. As a bibliophile, I still think books aren't going to die out for a long long time, and there's no hurry for libraries to chuck out the dead tree pulp editions in an attempt to 'modernise' themselves, especially given that plenty of people enjoy the feel of having a solid copy in your hands (although having tried an e-reader, they're remarkably fun to use). As someone who's also aware of the long term impact of this, I feel apprehensive both about the costs charged by publishing firms and the impact this will have on the fairly large portion of the population who just won't have access to e-readers to begin with, let alone those who are too young to have one and rely on trips to the library to get their fix.
: As an addition to paper libraries, helping to provide access where otherwise access is limited, this is a good idea. But the risk is that digital libraries completely replace paper libraries - and this misses one of the major elements of the library service, which is to provide not only information, but also discussion and community. Working as a community librarian you soon learn that people frequent libraries as much for company and support as to access knowledge and information. Reducing our understanding of 'information' to digital resources, rather than local knowledge, guidance on suitable authors and sources of information etc, is a step towards isolation. This also risks restricting access for the large proportion of library users who are elderly and in many cases less computer literate.
No, a library is not a library without printed books. Moreover, libraries are not book depositories and the invention of e-readers does not alter the need for a public space for reading, culture and edification. If you think the sole purpose of libraries is book distribution then be prepared for these faddish digital libraries to be physically dismantled or sold off and replaced by virtual (electronic-only) libraries. Then we can all sit at home downloading electronic texts and never have to look at another human being outside of working hours. What joy!
Often when browsing my local library's shelves in search of a particular work, my eye has been caught by something completely different close by, which has encouraged me to read different authors and even genres, most of which have proved very enjoyable. This kind of serendipity would by more difficult when ordering E-books. Even the definition of the word is a place where books were kept.
While I, like others, feel horrified at the loss of the sensory experience of reading a book (the weight of a book in the hands...the sound of the pages turning...being able to physically see how far through the book you are...), I can also see how this distaste compares to the distaste felt by vinyl lovers towards MP3s. They too have lost cover art and a sensory experience if they upgrade to this new technology. As I too am now buying fewer CDs in favour of digital music, who knows? Maybe we'll all also come round to the idea of digital books instead of physical ones - and in turn a digital library.