Open Discovery Space

Recently this month of May, it was announced that BiblioTech is to launch the world’s first paperless public library this summer in Bexar Country, Texas. The low cost but big ambitons initiative will be located in a relatively poor district of San Antonio’s South Side; where the existence of a bookshop let alone a library is scarce. The library will have a hundred e-readers on loan and multiple screens for users to access, browse information whilst also developing their digital skills. One great advantage of Bibliotech is that ten thousand books can be accessed way out in the most remote regions of the continent. The expansive accessbility of accessing learning materials stored in cyber capsules can be significant in remote zones in developing nations. Whilst the booming rise in the global population and the occurence of satellite towns way out of city limits, has meant there is a pressing need for more e-books to meet the elasticity of demand and for those who live on the fringes of the centre. Moreover, we live in a busy world in which people have less windows of time, digital libraries can be open right into the evening rather than be resticted by certain hours. Bibliotech will offer books to 1.7 million people just in the US alone, and hopes to work and partner with schools and run literacy digital courses. Thus the e-learning giant hopes to become an ethical steward, hoping to deliver a service to readers, but also be involved in education progress and innovation.

In academic circles e-books already have a prominence, especially in subjects such as maths, science and engineering. There is a likely chance that academic instituions in particular will adopt e-books, more so than public libraries that cater for the general public. BiblioTech is a global company that wishes to expand cross border and over continents. Once it reaches the UK, digital libraries has been predicted to be accepted by Imperial College London first, as last year they mentioned that 98% of its journal collection were digital and that they had stopped purchasing printed books. Despite this, the UK’s problem is not bookless libraries but library less boroughs. Many people have been active in campaigning for the preservation of traditional libraries. E-books that must be interactive and updated can be much more costly, whilst ilustrated books that mostly dominte the children books market, cannot be transeferred electronically. Other criticisms of e-books is that it could make reading atomised, in which minority and mid list books become obliterated, whilst printed books have a history and sensory experience for many. Libraries themselves are not just places to shelve books, but also have a social value and importance for quiet controlled study. Most importantly, many have claimed that digital libaries can ghettoise the poorest sector of the demographic who may not have internet connection or a computer (as the case in many developing remote regions), which goes against the essence of public libraries as bastions for education that has an egalitarian accessibility for all.

This advance is of importance to ODS, as it discusses the future of education technology, and how it can make knowledge and learning for young people more seamless, effective and accessible. The many challenges to Bibliotech however do give rise to the wider problems associated with education technology as a whole; which ODS hopes to address.

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