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.
“If you want to get an idea what it looks like, go into an Apple store,” Wolff told the San Antonio Express News. Called BiblioTech, the library system plans for several locations, starting with a first one in the fall of 2013 on the south side of the county. Wolff says this system won’t be a replacement for the County’s City library system, but an enhancement to it. They plan to save money by using buildings which are already owned by Bexar County, and have estimated that beginning costs are around $250,000 to secure the first 10,000 titles for the library.
Academic libraries have been moving toward digital systems for years now, but public libraries, which depend on public funding, have struggled to keep up with changing technologies. Several other cities have announced — and then aborted — plans to go fully digital. Still, the potential cost-savings for digital-only libraries in the long run should see more cities following suit in the future.