The library of the future is here, and it is called BiblioTech. Situated on the south side of San Antonio, Bexar County opened the first all-digital public library in September 2013 with the goal of bridging the digital divide in an area where most homes lack computers or an Internet connection, and all students within the school district qualify for free lunches. It was the first bookless, all-digital public library in the United States, lending e-readers and digital content rather than physical publications.
Our second library branch, BiblioTech West, opened in July 2015 and is the first co-location of a digital public library within a public housing development. The third library branch, BiblioTech East, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016 and is located in an Eastside Promise Neighborhood, part of the federal Promise Zone Initiative. BiblioTech has also integrated its resources with three local military base libraries, the Warrior and Family Support Center at Fort Sam Houston, and in the Historic Bexar County Courthouse.
BiblioTech’s innovative programming focuses on the intersection between technology and reading. The digital collections allow all residents of Bexar County to access a growing database of materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week; wherever they have an internet connection. BiblioTech is more than just the nation′s first all-digital public library, it′s a community resource. Computer stations for the visually impaired are available with electronic braille technology; this allows complete access to our collection. Through e-readers provided by BiblioTech, incarcerated mothers can read parenting e-books or read e-books to their children during visits.
Since opening, BiblioTech has participated in 449 community events, reached 31,926 community members and registered more than 10,341 patrons through community outreach efforts. BiblioTech has also given school presentations to more than 35,472 students and educators, resulting in 20,570 library card registrations.
Literacy in the digital age requires us to be able to locate, organize, and analyze information using digital technology. With the support of The Meadows Foundation, BiblioTech is bringing reading, learning, technology and community together in the physical and virtual worlds.