The distinct smell of much-loved and much-turned pages, shelves organised by subject and surname, step stools to reach the highest shelves and date stamped tabs in the inside cover. These are all tiny but significant details that we associate with a trip to the library. But what if a library had none of that? No full-to-bursting shelves, no lending labels, no books?

That’s exactly the model that one library in Ontario has adopted. The first of its kind in Canada, The Idea Exchange Old Post Office has gone ‘bookless’, instead giving visitors the opportunity to read their chosen title on tablets.

A beautiful glass pavilion added to an existing 134-year-old building, the space is intended to be a community hub for learning, creating and socialising. As well as being able to read on tablets, visitors can make use of 3D printers, sewing machines and a selection of workshop tools. A restaurant and event space also make up this very 21st century library.

With books so central to the very notion of what a library is, could this concept catch on?

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