Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reinventing the Library Identity

Original post by Jae Holt
October 23, 2013

**This article was originally posted on the MamaManga website. The question, "if there aren't any paper books, is it still a library?" is still being answered. I wanted to reintroduce this article to readers and then revisit the question by inviting you to give me your answers. Please leave your comments below.
Carnation Library
In September of 2013 in the south end of San Antonio, Texas,a new library opened up. But it wasn't your parents' kind of library. This library, known as BiblioTech, does not have any physical copies of books. Its entire catalog is located online in the form of eBooks. The library also provided over 600 e-readers and computers for patrons to access these eBooks. Other cities and many college and university campuses were also embracing bookless libraries. And the question was asked, if there aren't any paper books, is it still a library?

If you still hold on to the traditional identity of a library as being a place to go and find books that you can hold and are interested in reading, or a place to find obscure information for research, then you will most likely answer "no." But in this age of internet access and digital everything, you may see a more futuristic identity of a library as being a place to collaborate with others who share your interests and utilize computers to access the vast web of information we call the Internet.

These digital libraries are serving a purpose beyond offering books to borrow. Most, if not all, of the public bookless libraries we have today are situated in low-income areas where a majority of its population do not own a computer or have internet access. Colleges and universities set up collaborative spaces for students to work on projects. Both settings provide open spaces where people can come together as a community. There are separate reading and study areas, lab spaces for group projects, and some may even have a cafe of sorts. It may no longer be a place to experience the touch of a paper book in your hands, but it is still very much a place for the community to use.

But are books going away? Paper books have been around for centuries, and is one of the most lasting technologies ever invented. It will take many more years befor all libraries embrace the digital age of eBooks and eReaders, and maybe in that time, the resiliant paper book will continue to have a place in the future. What we should all hope for is that the knowledge and imagination of the past is not lost. Like the burning of the library of Alexandria, once a book is gone, history is gone.

Read more: 
A Bookless Library Opens in San Antonio 
Q&A: The enduring magic of libraries
BiblioTech Opens a New Chapter for Bookless Libraries
The "Bookless" Library
Nation's first bookless library on university campus is thriving at UTSA
A New Chapter? A Launch Of The Bookless Library

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