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Newport Beach’s ‘Bookless Library’ Plan Blows Up

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NEWPORT BEACH (CBS) — Library officials in Newport Beach want to make it clear that no one is taking the books away.

The tiny seaside city’s library administration and city hall officials have been inundated with phone calls from as far as the East Coast, concerned that the city’s four library branches were going to forgo physical books and go all digital.

“I actually got an email from an English professor in a college or university, I’m not sure which, in New Jersey who had heard the story on public radio in New York City,” Library Director Cynthia Cowell said. “Has a cousin here in Newport Beach who happens to be a physician, and she said, ‘I just can’t believe it. I’m stunned.’”

The misunderstanding stems from a proposed development called Marina Park that was made public last week. The development includes an electronic library, which would mean Balboa Branch, which was the city’s first library, and its books could disappear.

The story, however, blew up, with publications like The New Yorker describing the plan as “going Netflix.” To be clear, the plan was for one library and not for all four of the city’s library branches.

The plan, plus a second one that calls for a traditional library with shelves, books and Internet-enabled computers, will be discussed Thursday afternoon at a meeting.

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