A library without books? Kids weigh in!

Apr 23, 2013
Photo: Courtesy Illustration Can you imagine walking into your local library, eager to pick up something new to read, and finding all of the shelves of books replaced with computers? The first bookless public library is scheduled to open this fall in San Antonio, Texas, where computer terminals and tablets will take the place of printed books (read more about it here). The reaction to the announcement seems to be a mix of curiosity, excitement, and bewilderment. The idea of a completely digital library is fun and futuristic, but are readers still too attached to the printed page to make such a drastic change? Scholastic News 5/6, our current events classroom magazine for 5th and 6th graders, ran a poll in their March 18th issue that explained San Antonio’s bookless library and then asked kids: Should we eliminated printed books in libraries? As of today, 54,858 students have voted in the poll, and it’s a close call! 52% of kids voted NO (we should keep printed books in libraries), and 48% voted YES (we should eliminate printed books in libraries)! The results aren’t too shocking when you consider that the number of kids who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%), according to Scholastic’s most recent Kids & Family Reading Report. The same report also showed that among children who have read an ebook, one in five says he or she is reading more books for fun, and that half of children age 9–17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks. That’s a lot of enthusiasm from kids about reading digitally! One finding that may help print books to retain their place on the shelf is that eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print. So while it will be interesting to see how a bookless library fares in San Antonio, it will likely be a while before they become a trend. So what do you think — do you prefer to leave the library with an ereader full of files or a bag brimming with books? Let us know in the comments!