Small campus library bolstered by the cloud

“It was worth the risk of trusting in a product that we’ve seen develop over time,” Mindeman said. “It’s an experiment still going on, but the benefits of sharing with other institutions will allow us to collaborate in ways we never dared to imagine even a decade ago. We just decided to walk out front on this one. Whenever we can offload [IT and library work] and still get great service, it is a no-brainer.”

WorldShare is a technology platform designed to emphasize “collaboration and app-sharing across the library community,” according to the OCLC. The group 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, describing the new system as a “catalog of catalogs of libraries from all over the world.”

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

Each month, the college pays about $3,000 for the service, but in the long run it will save money because Covenant does not have to maintain servers and upgrade software, Mindeman said.

Research universities often have more than a million volumes on their shelves, while Covenant students have access to about 100,000 physical volumes in the campus library—making it essential for the school to team up with other colleges and universities with many times the number of library resources.

“It just provides a much quicker and more comprehensive way to find resources about what [students are] looking for,” Mindeman said, adding that Covenant books and articles are listed before resources from other colleges when students search in the system. “Covenant College is no longer isolated; we can find anything through these searches.”

The number of books packing the shelves of a school’s library, Mindeman said, has become largely irrelevant in higher education as the vast majority of books and publications have been transferred to some sort of online database, whether it’s stored on on-campus servers or in the cloud.

Library officials at Covenant said they have seen marked improvement in students’ bibliographies and citations since the school switched to the cloud-based system in April.