San Antonio.- Before you know it, Southside San Antonio will be on the educational cutting edge as it begins operation of the city’s first bookless library. Instead of the hardbacks this BiblioTech is made up of desktop, laptop and tablet computers; as well as e-readers.
Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez is the man behind the plans to get his ‘backyard’ involved.
“The Southside has always wanted a book store,” the commissioner told La Prensa. “County Judge Nelson Wolff is pro-advocate for books. I said Judge I’d like to look at this avenue of a bookless library for this community.”
Rodriguez went into further detail on what the BiblioTech was really bringing to the table.
“What we’re offering are the computers, the laptops, the access that people do not necessarily have in my backyard. People in my neighborhood don’t have WiFi. They have Roadrunner. The phone rings, it cuts the computer system down. They’re going to have the opportunity to come here,” he explained.
No books, he added, translates into huge savings. Rodriguez said they have the shell space and it’s not taking anything away from the libraries. We’re encouraging people to get more library cards.
“We already give $3.7 million to the library, but we need something that our kids don’t have and that is the ePads, the laptops to be able to take home, to sign out,” he said.
This is the idea Judge Nelson Wolff found appealing.
“BiblioTech is Bexar County’s new concept in offering library services, it should not be seen as a replacement to the traditional library,” Judge Wolff said. “It is an enhancement to the current system to which all County residents have access. The ever changing landscape of technology means that literacy is no longer about picking up a physical book and being able to comprehend the words; technology is changing the way we read, learn and thrive as citizens of the 21st Century.”
The first BiblioTech will be inside the Precinct 1 Satellite Offices at 3505 Pleasanton Road in a 4,989 square foot shell space; it is expected to open this summer. On Tuesday, Commissioners Court will consider a package of items to create BiblioTech, including:
- A request for proposals to provide e-book distributor services
- A request for qualifications for architectural services to finish out the shell space
- A request to establish a budget
- And the creation of a 7 member BiblioTech Advisory Board to be appointed by Commissioners Court.
The concept backed by the Southside education community.
“I have the support of Southwest ISD, Southside ISD and Harlandale ISD. Having the board members involved in the partnering, the tutoring, working with the community, working with the seniors to get an ID. You gotta get a library ID to have access to the library,” Rodriguez said.
The facility has an impressive library to begin with. The BiblioTech proposal starts with 100 e-readers for circulation, 50 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets to use on site; additional e-reading accommodations will be made for the visually impaired. The collection will include 10,000 current titles to start, with access to tens of thousands of classic titles.
“This is the most cost effective way we could find to bring library services into the County,” Judge Wolff said. “But I want to emphasize that it will be open to anyone who wants to come in.”
It will be open seven days a week, maybe from noon to 10, Monday through Sunday. Rodriguez said they we’re going to try and keep it open as late as possible and security won’t be a problem since the constable’s office is on site, plus they have a well lit parking area.
In addition, residents with their own e-readers or tablets will be able to access the collection remotely once they have a library ID. The location also will have study spaces, meeting rooms and a designated interactive children’s area. The center will be open 7 days a week. Eventually, Judge Wolff said he would like to see the BiblioTech concept expanded to other areas of unincorporated Bexar County.