January 3

New Texas library serves only e-bookworms

The first of its kind in the country, BiblioTech has plenty of iMacs and iPads, but no paper volumes, in an area where most families don’t have Wi-Fi.

By Paul J. Weber
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Juan Castilleja uses a computer last month at BiblioTech, a first of its kind digital public library, in San Antonio, Texas.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Patrons use computers last month at BiblioTech, a first of its kind digital public library, in San Antonio, Texas.

The Associated Press

“If you have bookshelves, you have to structure the building so it can hold all of that weight,” Elkholf said. “Books are heavy, if you’ve ever had one fall on your foot.”

Up the road in Austin, for example, the city is building a downtown library to open in 2016 at a cost of $120 million. Even a smaller traditional public library that recently opened in nearby suburban Kyle cost that city about $1 million more than BiblioTech.

On her first visit, 19-year-old Abigail Reyes was only looking for a quiet space to study for an algebra exam. But she got a quick tutorial from a librarian on how to search for digital books and check out tablets before plopping down on a row of sleek couches.

“I kind of miss the books,” Reyes said. “I don’t like being on the tablets and stuff like that. It hurts my eyes.”

Across the room, Rosemary Caballeo tried shopping for health insurance on a set of computers reserved for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. Her restless 2-year-old ran around and pawed at a row of keyboards. The little girl shrieked loudly, shattering the main room’s quiet. She was soon whisked outside by her father.

After all, it’s still a library.

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