Bibliotech, the first-ever entirely digital library in the United States, will celebrate its first anniversary this month. The Bexar County space, which contains no physical books, still offers readers and researchers the traditional library experience of a quiet environment, or speaking with a librarian in person.
The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with head librarian Ashley Eklof about Bibliotech and how it is changing the landscape of public libraries in America.
On the digital library model:
“Libraries are about accessing information. We are still connecting information and making it available to the people in Bexar County. They can take an eReader home… it’s very much like a library in that they are able to take away content for free. It’s just a different model, a very sizable model, a very flexible model.”
On the physical library:
“We aren’t trying to sell anyone anything. We are just assisting them with accessing technology and information and books. So it’s nice to see people use the space and sit around all day and to be working on projects. We have a gentleman who comes and he is working on a screenplay in our space. We have students doing homework. So in that sense, I feel like it is more of a community center.”
On the availability of eBooks versus traditional books:
“We have about 25,000 individual e-books in our collection, and that’s growing. …We have a variety of audiobooks, magazines, movies, and so on. There are very few times that we’ve had someone say, ‘Can you get this book?’ and we can’t.”
“Not every publisher wants to work and provide e-content. That is definitely an issue that, as more people are wanting and buying and borrowing e-content, publishers are realizing that they need to make it more available to people.”