When we think of a library the image that comes to mind is that of thousands and thousands of books lined up in shelves in a huge hall. But this image is beginning to change with bookless libraries starting to emerge. A bookless library is a library that only has digital books and doesn’t have any real books. The concept is being tried in a few libraries around the world in different formats. BiblioTech in Bexar County, Texas is the world’s first truly bookless library that opened recently. Whether this concept will be better or worse than the normal library concept is still to be seen but there are a few clear benefits of a bookless library. Eventually we might see a middle path emerging where we’ll have libraries that are mostly digital but also house certain number of real books and still give the feel of a traditional library environment.
Libraries are traditionally large projects that require a lot of space and money to be built but a bookless library can be built in a much smaller space. Since all the books are digital, very little room is wasted in storing books and all the space can be utilized to house patrons. Bookless libraries will house computers and screens that the readers can use to read digital books and all the space can be used for this purpose. They’ll also lend out eReaders to increase the number of people they can reach. Of course the highest number of readership will be from people who’ll be using their own devices.
Traditional books need a lot of maintenance and care. They need to be protected from the environment while being stored in the shelves of the library and from time to time will need repair and rebinding as they get old. A digital library doesn’t have any such problem. There will be no cases of misplaced or lost books because the books don’t need to be sorted manually according to their category. All this saves time and money that the library can spend on providing more books and better facilities.
Many people procrastinate about going to library. It is a lot of work because you have to make at least two trips to read a book; one to loan the book and one to return it. If you can’t read the book in 14 days you have to either make multiple trips or pay a fine. But a bookless library solves all these problems. To loan a book you don’t even have to visit the library physically and can just do it through the library’s website. Once your period of 14 days is over the book will automatically get returned to the library and you won’t be able to access it on your device unless you loan it again. This makes a bookless library very easy to use and will encourage more and more people to read more.
A bookless library can be a good way to reach the ever growing population. With suburbs expanding exponentially around cities, it is hard for everyone to visit the city library in person. But a bookless library can have many small centers located in every neighborhood. A lot of people can be reached by such a network of bookless libraries. Uneducated people who would never even think of stepping inside a library can also be reached and education can be provided to each and everyone irrespective of their location or economic background.