quarta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2014

Biblioteca totalmente digital, um sucesso retumbante

Os estudantes fazem uso dos computadores na Bibiliotech, primeiro sistema de biblioteca pública totalmente digital dos EUA. A utilização da instalação tem crescido desde que foi inaugurada no verão passado. 

John W. Gonzalez | mySanAntonio
Título origiinal: All-digital library a resounding success

When the school day ends, the crush begins at Bexar County BiblioTech.

Students fill the South Side public library each afternoon to gain free online connections to do homework, check Facebook, play computer games and perhaps read a best-seller like “Divergent” by Veronica Roth — all in a cozy, high-tech ambiance.

Five months into its avant-garde existence, the nation's first all-digital public library system has soaring interest from young readers, and there's a growing clamor for more locations and wider access to ebooks.

Since its September debut, the Bexar County-operated library has garnered global attention as an innovative remedy to the “digital inequality” that leaves too many students unplugged at home. The library's rapid success spawned a satellite site downtown in the courthouse, and a third location is coming to the East Side.

Meanwhile, the original site on Pleasanton Road has seen increasing registrations, walk-in traffic and ebook circulations. Demand is heavy for the library's computers and hundreds of loaner ereaders, forcing strict enforcement of time limits on equipment use.

Early qualms about patrons absconding with ereaders have proved unfounded, said County Judge Nelson Wolff, who conceived of the library after reading the life story of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

“We have an average 200-220 ereaders checked out all the time. The good news is, they all get returned,” Wolff said.

There have been a few mishaps, however. A couple of devices were damaged, requiring reimbursement by patrons, and one device was lost in a fire. But fears that students would hijack loaner devices did not occur, Wolff said.

“We heard a lot of people say a library can't do that. Well, we're doing it,” Wolff said.

“We've got about 20,000 books now and we're adding about 10,000 a year to that,” Wolff said.

Patrons with their own devices, including smart phones and iPads, can access the library content from anywhere. Remote use is increasing along with on-site use.

About 16,000 residents are registered, but sign-up got off to a slow start last year partly due to a requirement — no longer in force — that patrons visit the library to show proof of identity. Faced with community resistance to the rule, it was abandoned recently. Now patrons only need to supply their zip codes that must reflect residency in the county.

“We take them at their word. If we're seeing a spike coming from France or wherever, we'll have to revisit that,” BiblioTech special projects coordinator Laura Cole said.

As expected, many of the library's on-site users are students from nearby schools in Harlandale Independent School District, Cole said.

“It's a thrill for me to come in here and see all the study rooms being used, all the computers being used,” she said.

BiblioTech's mission remains focused on encouraging reading, Wolff said.

“We're trying to keep it as simple as we can — break the barriers to reading and let a person check out a book wherever they are,” Wolff said.

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