Florida Polytechnic University's enormous facility promises to make 'many more books available for the students' in digital form.
There are no dusty bookshelves or piles of textbooks in the library of Florida's newest university. Welcoming its first students this week, Florida Polytechnic University's new library houses not a single physical book.
Instead, its inaugural class of 500 will have access to around 135,000 ebooks. "Our on-campus library is entirely digital," said director of libraries Kathryn Miller. "We have access to print books through the state university system's interlibrary loan program. However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally."
The 11,000 square-foot library is situated within a huge, white-domed building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Eschewing physical books, it is a bright, open space featuring computer terminals, desks, and comfortable spots to read.
A budget of $60,000 (£36,000) has also been set aside for students to read ebooks that the library doesn't already own. Once a book has been viewed twice on this system, it will be automatically purchased. The set-up, said Miller, "allows for many more books to be available for the students, and the university only has to pay when the student or faculty member uses the book", allowing students "to make direct choices regarding the books they want to read and have available in the library".
The new university offers courses exclusively in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Miller said that one of its objectives was to "prepare students for the high-tech workforce by giving them hands-on experience with advanced technology".