Friday, January 25, 2013

Paperless libraries?

For several years now, libraries have offered the ability to check out ebooks as part of their services -- and for many libraries, like mine, their ebook collections are growing steadily, if not rapidly.  There is a pretty high demand for ebooks at the library, surprising considering how slow many people were to accept the digitalization of books.

But as popular as ebooks have become, I was still surprised (though very pleased), to see this article from NPR:

A New Chapter? A Launch of the Bookless Library

This library will have nothing but digital media.  Patrons who don't have e-readers of their own can use the library's e-readers and computers to read ebooks in the building, or check out pre-loaded e-readers to take home.  Of course, I am sure there will be a high demand for those devices, but at least the library is finding a way to cater to people who cannot afford the technology.

The trade-off is that the library is not only able to save money on space (books take up a lot of real estate), but they will also have more space for computer stations and reading areas -- the idea of which I love.  It would be weird not to see any books, I think, but at the same time I often find that libraries and bookstores have a shortage of good places to sit and read.

Is the paperless library the future?  I certainly think so (though I don't necessarily want it to have the cold discomfort of an Apple store, as this article suggests it will).  I would make it more cozy, personally, since I think that's what most readers want, regardless of the format in which they read!  But I really like the idea of the library's space being devoted to computer stations and comfortable reading nooks.

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