You may have seen this bit of public library news in headlines lately. A new San Antonio, Texas public library branch will be completely digital. You can read a news report about it here.
This is an interesting development because typically academic libraries have been more likely to adopt an all digital format, like Walden University Library. This is because of the types of materials we have versus what a public library collects. Academic journals, magazines, newspapers, and academic book presses are more likely to be available in electronic format than books on a popular best-seller list that you would want to find at a public library. Children's books are also less likely to be available in electronic format. I've often myself found that while my public library has many ebooks that I can download to my own e-reader, the newer, popular books I want to read just aren't released by their publishers to digital format immediately.
Electronic, academic-focused research databases have been around for quite awhile (you can read this blog post from last year to get a brief history of research databases). E-readers and their various electronic formats are still relatively new; there's a lot to be ironed out still. As this article points out, the Santa Rosa Branch Library in Tucson, Arizona already tried a digital-only collection but then started purchasing print books again because of demand from their community.
We're always interested in what other libraries, whether public or academic, are doing, so we'll be keeping an eye on the trend toward digital public libraries.
Does your public library offer ebooks? Can you check out tablets or e-readers?