Thursday, January 16, 2014


Bexar Bibliotech bookless library

I guess this had to happen, but I felt quite queasy when I read the headline.

I'm all in favor of e-books, but I don't want them to take over the world.

I feel much the same way about Google. Or Amazon. Or the Irish.

Moderation in all things.

I will confess: We Irish are not renowned for our moderation.

But the sentence "Bexar County, Texas has opened a new library that has no books inside," made me feel quite ill—even though I think such developments are both desirable and inevitable. But books—real printed books, the kind that are heavy to lug around, and near impossible to dust—are sacred to me. I’ve built my life around them (with the help of a couple of other pleasant ways of passing the time).   

I feel like paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling’s memorable 1922 line: “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke,” into something like: “A woman is only a woman, but a good book is… However, my life is hazardous enough already—and I hold (most) women in high regard. In fact, I think they/you have the edge on us males. But even though it is sexist and dated, I love the rhythm of the line—and of course The Man Who Would Be King.jpgKipling was only joking (I think).

I’m a great Kipling fan. My much loved grandmother read me THE JUNGLE BOOK, and other stories, before I learned to read, and then I worked through most of his other works over time.

He was a consummate story-teller  and his works translated well into movies such as KIM, GUNGA DIN and THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (one of my favorite films with a dream cast directed by John Huston).

Here is a little more detail from :

Instead the library is outfitted with iPad stations and iMacs loaded with digital books available to check out, making it the first digital library in the country.

The library is called the BiblioTech. Patrons can check out eBooks, audiobooks, and software training databases, as well as eReaders. The library also hosts computer classes and patrons can use laptops, tablets, and desktops at the branch.

The Associated Press points out that the library looks like an Apple Store but is located in a part of town which wouldn’t appeal to the tech company. “BiblioTech is on the city’s economically depressed South Side and shares an old strip mall with a Bexar County government building,” explains the AP.

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