The Bexar County, Texas, Bibliotech library system may not have pioneered the idea of an all-digital library but it has become the poster child for the idea.
Texas Public Radio reports that Bibliotech has partnered with the local school district to equip school buses with Wifi and internet access:
Since Monday, Jackie Washington Miller's students have been listening to the audio book Nimona on their ride to Cameron Elementary school.
Washington Miller, a senior school bus driver with the district says the kids have been quiet, intensely listening to the book.
"And as soon as they see me they said, 'Miss Jackie, Miss Jackie. Are we going to listen to the book today?" says Washington Miller explaining the kids check to make sure they start the place they left off.
BiblioTech outfitted seven SAISD buses with wireless routers and internet infrastructure as part of their "Rolling Readers" program. The technology gives students access to the internet through the district's content filters, and access to the digital library's thousands of books. The seven will rotate every two months to routes for multiple schools.
Cameron Elementary is on the city's eastside near the AT&T Center, in a historically impoverished area. The district says the school has a rate of 94.78 percent of students deemed economically disadvantaged, above the district average of 92 percent.
BiblioTech's Laura Cole says Cameron students are exactly the ones they want to be helping as part of their mission to address the city's digital divide, and help students access an internet that is increasingly intertwined with all aspects of life.
"They may have a phone, they may have a tablet, but sometimes they don't actually have the connectivity to make that work for them," Cole says.
The school district produced this video about the program:
In an age where a lot of kids have mobile devices, this is not a bad idea.
But is it a good use of public library funds? Shouldn't the school district be funding it?
It is the school district's bus, after all, and its students.
image by John Picken