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Belk Library embraces digital age with technological innovations

From the introduction of the Kindles last semester to the transcription of library archives to an online format, Elon University’s Belk Library is beginning to embrace the digital age.

"Belk Library is looking at several technology innovations right now, all of which provide users quick, easy access to library info and resources," said Lynne Bisko, a non-print librarian at Belk. "We hope that technology will improve the visitor's experience and make it easier to find and use library resources when and where they're needed."

Some of the innovations Belk will introduce include a mobile website for the library, a mobile version of the catalog and increased usage of Quick Response, or QR codes, Bisko said.

Even archiving at Elon is becoming a part of the digital world.

"I think for libraries and archives to remain relevant, online archiving is important," said Katie Nash, archivist and special collections librarian. "Specifically in the archives community, making collections available online is a luxury and necessity all at the same time."

Nash said Belk Library is using OCLC’s CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software, or CONTENTdm, which is a database that stores and makes digital content accessible and organized in one place.

"Before CONTENTdm, we had separate websites with digital content and separate library catalog records," Nash said. "We hope to put all of the Thomas Jefferson Carret Essays in CONTENTdm, as well as embark on a large project to get the honors theses digitalized and available in CONTENTdm."

To view the Belk Library Digital Collections, visit:

One of the biggest issues with the evolution of technology in everyday society is the fear that print materials, such as books, will become obsolete in years to come. But while Belk is expanding its digital and technological means, print material will still be relevant, Bisko said.

The archives will also retain their original form, as there is a particular need to see certain archives in person as opposed to a digital format.

"Sometimes it is necessary to come to the physical location of where the item is housed because the digital copy is not sufficient," Nash said. "Just because there is a digital copy online does not mean that people no longer come to a physical space of an archive."

Other advances that Belk Library has made over the past few years include blogging, widgets, instant messaging, podcasts and an increased social media presence, such as Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, in the past 10 years, the computer systems have changed three times. But a desire to keep up with the times by developing technology comes with a cost.

"One of the conflicts we've faced is, of course, money," Bisko said.

According to her and Shannon Tennant, a cataloging librarian, the university and library's budgets have been tightened as a result of the recent economic conditions.

"Luckily, many of the technological innovations don't cost a lot of money and can end up saving the library a lot of money in the long run," said Tennant.

About Elon University

Elon University is a selective, independent, private university renowned as a national model for engaged learning, along with excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs. Elon's beautiful and historic campus in central North Carolina is designated as a botanical garden.


This OCLC News Item is an excerpt from “Belk embraces digital age with technological innovations,” by Ashley Fahey, March 1, 2011.  It was used with permission from The Pendulum, Elon University’s student newspaper. To read the complete article, visit: