published Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Lookout Mountain's Covenant College pioneers library technology

Covenant College was founded in 1955 on Lookout Mountain. Staff File Photo by Dan Henry.
Covenant College was founded in 1955 on Lookout Mountain. Staff File Photo by Dan Henry.
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Sitting on top of Lookout Mountain, Covenant College sometimes is lost in the clouds.

Now the private Dade County, Ga., school's Kresge Memorial Library will be in the clouds on a daily basis.

The school is the 11th in the world to launch a cloud-based library system to streamline administrative functions and give access to books and media in libraries around the world, according to Tad Mindeman, Covenant's director of library services.

"It's unlike anything that has been done before," he said.

In technological terms, the "cloud" refers to the storage of users' data and software on remote servers that can be accessed through any Internet connection.

For students and faculty at Covenant, doing a search on the library's system is like using Google, only in this case they can see all of the books and electronic resources available in different libraries, Mindeman said.

Covenant College was among about three dozen libraries to test the Online Computer Library Center's new cloud-based integrated operating system -- called WorldShare -- in February.

It is a tech platform designed to emphasize "collaboration and app-sharing across the library community," according to the group. The Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit membership and research organization.

"Every library has some sort of software system it uses to run its internal operation, cataloging, circulation, acquisitions," Mindeman said. "What's different about what we did is a brand new product, OCLS [Online Computer Library Center], really invented a catalog of catalogs of libraries from all over the world."

That saves time and money on the administrative side, he said.

Covenant College paid an initial $20,000 to move all of the data to the new system. Each month the college pays about $3,000 for the service, but in the long run it will save money because the college does not have to maintain servers and upgrade software, Mindeman said.

The technology world in general is shifting more toward cloud computing, where everything is done remotely, including data storing, said Marshall Breeding, director of innovative technologies and research at Vanderbilt University.

And it is a trend libraries have started to follow.

"If you look forward five years from now, a much larger number of libraries would have moved in that direction by then," Breeding said.

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about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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AndrewLohr said...

Can you write comments in the margins of these cloud books? One good student at Covenant when I was there said that when she wrote a paper on some (physical) book, she found such comments a big help.

December 27, 2011 at 5:51 a.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Andrew, You are the expert when it comes to writing while in a cloud.

December 27, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.
Veritas said...

This article, both interesting and informative, was written by Perla Trevizo. Is there a Hispanic/Latino connection I missed? Surely some of the many volumes in these libraries are written in Spanish.

December 27, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.
dl said...

The end of paper books is not far away....

December 27, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.
inkcow said...

I find it a little hard to call this "pioneering" or "never been done before" when UTC runs the same system (http://utc.worldcat.org/) which would affect far more people locally.

Also it is just the catalog and the back office systems in the cloud. It has nothing to do with e-books.

December 28, 2011 at 6:52 a.m.
inkcow said...

(Not to take anything away from Covenant, of course. Congratulations on your new library system)

December 28, 2011 at 6:59 a.m.
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