Bexar County and the San Antonio Independent School District celebrated the opening of the fourth BiblioTech library Tuesday, this one at downtown’s Fox Tech campus, saying its primary goal is to give students access to the internet and opportunities they might not have otherwise. 

The Nelson and Tracy Wolff BiblioTech EDU library will be open to campus students and staff during school hours. After 3 p.m., the library will be open to the general public until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On the weekends, the BiblioTech will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This is what I would call an interim step toward a full deal,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff about how the new facility will help close the digital divide that plagues parts of Bexar County.

“Even when you get the full deal, there are still going to be people who are going to want to come in and study and learn how to do the technology … access information, books available to them. Even if they have the [internet] access, how do they use it?”

Wolff said access to the internet for all is still several years away, but for now, BiblioTech will be “a big help,” he said. 

SAISD Trustee Patti Radle told the San Antonio Report the district is always working to ensure students have access to the digital world, but school access alone is not enough.

“They might be able to be here and have it, but they also go home and they don’t,” Radle said. “How wonderful it is that we have a center like this that is so accessible to them and after school hours as well.

“It’s still very difficult in areas of poverty to keep up with the access, so an effort like this is very, very important to us,” she said.

Juliana Chavez, an 11-year-old student at ALA, operates one of the robots in the Robotics room inside of the new BiblioTech EDU Library located on the Fox Tech campus downtown Tuesday.
Juliana Chavez, an 11-year-old student at the Advanced Learning Academy, operates one of the robots in the robotics room inside the new BiblioTech EDU Library located on the Fox Tech campus downtown Tuesday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Radle noted that even people experiencing homelessness would be able to access BiblioTech.

The fourth BiblioTech location at 626 N Flores St. is in an area where as many as three-quarters of residents don’t have access to the internet, according to the latest Health Collaborative report.

BiblioTech was funded by the county and several community organizations, including the Najim Charitable Foundation, the Charles Butt Foundation, Toyota and several others. 

“These libraries are a resource that places a world of learning at the fingertips of everyone with a passion and desire to follow their career dreams, complete high school, or simply just escape into a world of literature,” said Susann Kazunas, vice president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas. 

Harvey Najim told the large crowd assembled for the opening that 30% of the population in Bexar County does not have an education, a job, housing and food security. 

Marina Alderete Gavito, executive director of SA Digital Connects, a broad coalition of public, private and community partners working to reduce the digital divide, told the San Antonio Report that Bibliotech will help 20% of households in San Antonio access the internet. 

“It’s necessary because connecting all these households is not going to happen overnight, so having the launch of BiblioTech Edu is great progress,” she said.  “For those people who cannot connect for whatever reason, this will help them significantly — and then in parallel, we will be working on connecting all households to the internet.”

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.