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Monday, January 14, 2013

Today in Bummer Headlines

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The Verge says:

The first paragraph goes like this:

Bexar County, Texas says that it will open the first 100 percent digital public library system in the country, unveiling plans for its first location this past week. The plan has been in the works for a while, headed up by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who says he was inspired to create a digitally native library while reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

I know that the first 100% digital public library is on the horizon, but I think this is just too soon. There are way too many materials that simply aren't yet available digitally for this plan to work, unless your library exists just to loan free copies of 50 Shades of Grey e-books to the public.


Comments (17) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Not to worry, some skinny geek kid will download all the 50 shades ebooks and then be hounded into suicide while Bankster CEOs roam free for killing millions.


(caveat - kudos on this, Bexar, represent!)
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
rob! 2
Coming soon, no doubt: content-free newspapers; sexless marriages; jobs lacking actual work; sarcasm-impoverished blogs.
Posted by rob! on January 14, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 3
The lack of books is no reason to embrace the sterile Apple look. Why does it have to look like that? There's a reason the reading parties happen in the fireside room at the Sorento and not in a phlebotomy lab.
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
LEE. 4
serious question: how will they recreate the bowel-loosening feeling of tranquility you get whenever you step into a real library? (our downtown library not included)
Posted by LEE. on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 5
Why even have a building?
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM · Report this
ryjan 6
Why in Texas, things going to be a flop, how many people in Baxter county have an e-reader besides the judge and his friends.
Posted by ryjan on January 14, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
@2 actually, San Antonio is heavily wireless, very tech, and a great place. Where did you think Bexar County was?
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 14, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
Just because a small town can't have the same circulation list as the LOC does it mean they shouldn't even try?

If you can get your head out of your ass regarding what a library "should" be, then you'll realize this isn't a bad idea. Instead of simply offering oodles of books, the vast majority of which will likely never be touched, maybe we should focus on providing spaces that help people access, share and discuss information/literature? Kind of like study hall but for willing adults (and I suppose eager children).

Why have a building? Well, maybe because it's worth having a place like that that doesn't require you to buy a latte every hour.
Posted by dak7e on January 14, 2013 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Rotten666 9
Why bother? Any decent library system has a website for downloading ebook, searching databases, finding homework help, asking a librarian, etc. Why go to a physical building for online tasks?

Brick and mortar libraries are for interacting with the materials. You know, touching and shit like that. And what kind of programming are they going to offer in their sterile, no book library? Are kids going to bring their e-readers for story time?

Will it be a library or just a glorified computer lab with a librarian to answer questions and a tech to fix glitches?
Posted by Rotten666 on January 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 10
@8 If the point is to have a cafe without the coffee (though coffee would be nice, right?), then the Apple store feel is really the wrong direction.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Rotten666 11
"maybe we should focus on providing spaces that help people access, share and discuss information/literature? Kind of like study hall but for willing adults (and I suppose eager children)"

You know, I think there is a name for what you are describing, it's on the tip of my tongue.
Posted by Rotten666 on January 14, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
The books may be online, but people still like a nice place to read.

Today's library is more of a learning, studying, job hunting, reading center. In some sense, the stacks of paper books take away from space!

Just because the books are online, it doesn't mean that students will not want to come for after school study breaks, or adults will not want to take kids to the play area.

One can imagine all kinds of Microsoft Surface type devices implanted in desks, walls and so one, so that reading is everywhere. Pervasive.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on January 14, 2013 at 1:53 PM · Report this
People use the "apple store" comparison all the time w/o really meaning it. It's just a quick and easy way to get attention and sound cool.

And yeah, this is basically just a slightly redone version of a library. They've just dropped physical books... and I know Constant's gonna hate this, but those are rapidly becoming an expensive vestigial tail many localities can't afford to hold on to.
Posted by dak7e on January 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Fnarf 14
So they're going to have the tables at an impossible height, but mostly empty space, it's going to be echoey and drab, and there's going to be a staff of soulless, eyeless drones standing around with nametags on, just barely out of reach, watching you. Groovy.

Imagine if they spent the money on books instead. Looking for even the standard literature on almost any topic imaginable at SPL is an endless sequence of "nopes", and the ebook world is even worse. The books just aren't there.
Posted by Fnarf on January 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM · Report this
chinaski 15
At least at SPL you can submit a purchase request and eventually get what you're after.
I imagine at some point in the future it will be a bit like videos:
Everyone will read the same (limited) digital content (like netflix). Hopefully there will be some equivalent of scarecrow video in the dusty basement of an abandoned church or something.
Posted by chinaski on January 14, 2013 at 3:32 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 16
@15 Google's already scanned millions of books. There are all kinds of copyright issues in the way, but the industry will eventually work past those. At some point, you'll pay Google (or whoever) a few bucks, and they'll pass some of that to the publisher.

Paul's point is that we're nowhere near this point yet, not that we won't eventually get there.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Meh. From what I can tell Bexar County currently has NO public library system (though San Antonio does) so it's not like they're stealing money from a traditional library and it's not as if anyone would (or should) consider building a paper library from scratch these days.
In fact it's somewhat amazing that someplace in Texas using is tax-payer dollars to provide books for all the lazy 47%. Maybe it's because they feel confident that really poor people won't have e-readers anyway and therefore won't be rewarded for their slothful ways.
Anyway, yes it may seem early but libraries are going to have to evolve to survive and they shouldn't cling to their outdated ways until the last possible moment or it will already be too late. It's already starting to be too late as a lot of (powerful, affluent) people already scoff at their continued existence.
Posted by chi_type on January 14, 2013 at 9:35 PM · Report this

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