The Libraries With No Books Inside

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” —Francis Bacon

In A Nutshell

Some libraries are starting to convert to all-digital, using space once filled by books for e-readers and computers. A new San Antonio public library will be all digital—one Minnesota high school library has been since 2011.

The Whole Bushel

Early in 2013, the city of San Antonio, Texas, announced plans for a new public library. This wouldn’t have been newsworthy if not for the fact that this will be the first public library of its kind—the kind that has no books.

Yes, the San Antonio library—called “BiblioTech” (ha!)—is all-digital. Where books would be, there are only computer kiosks, laptops, and tablets: 600–700 different outlets to browse the library’s 10,000 digital titles. Registered users can also check out and read titles remotely on their own devices, which really calls into question the need for a physical facility.

Indeed, though many public and university libraries have maintained digital catalogs for years, the San Antonio facility is the first to shun paper from its inception. The county shelled out nearly $180,000 to Apple for iPads and MacBooks; County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed his hope that the facility would look and feel like an Apple Store, and they appear to be on the right track.

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In Minnesota, Benilde-St. Margaret School’s library has been book-less since 2011. The situation is unique—with 50 public libraries within a 24-kilometer (15 mi) radius of the school, Benilde-St.Margaret’s was in a position to take the leap into the future—and as a private school, each student is provided a laptop. But in a decade or two, this could be looking like a pilot program for what will almost certainly become the norm.

Show Me The Proof

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