Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear stories from faculty members at UNC and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on 97.9 The Hill WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Elaine Westbrooks, vice provost for university libraries and university librarian for UNC Chapel Hill, works to ensure the continued learning of the Carolina community through the combined resources of 10 libraries and more than 10 million individual volumes.

“Most people are familiar with our Davis library, as well as our Wilson special collections library, but we have libraries that are dedicated to the health sciences, the arts, science, music … but what’s most exciting is the fact that it’s much more than books,” said Westbrooks. “Manuscripts, there’s musical recordings, there’s data sets, software image, collections, library, collections, that they are much more diverse than they ever have been.”

The vast collection acts as a research and learning resource, while also functioning as a natural tool for the preservation of North Carolina’s history and culture — ensuring that anyone can access the information stored and categorized in the UNC library system.

“When we think about those 10 million volumes, what that does is it creates that comprehensive collection that anybody in the state of North Carolina can walk in and have access to it,” said Westbrooks. “And when I think about people walking in, we get nearly 3 million visitors a year, and that was actually pre-pandemic. When we look at how people act with information today, most of our users come in via our website. So we’re getting over 10 million people who are coming to our library virtually.”

The UNC library — alongside its “deep mission,” according to Westbrooks, to preserve history and culture as libraries have done for centuries — is to provide students with access to technology. Specifically, the hardware, video and audio recording equipment needed to create podcasts and videos. Online tools have also been made avaialbe to create digital images and videos that become part of multimedia scholarly works produced as part of their studies.

“We feel that the library is a learning space,” said Westbrooks. “That includes technology, but [it’s also] a place where students can be curious, they can wonder, they can innovate, they can engage with other students. They can engage with faculty and staff. And so, we want the library to be that place of choice for students to come for a quiet place to study — but also they’re going to be surrounded by technology. They’re going to be surrounded by expertise, and they also have that community of people who are empowered to learn and to be better students and did go out and change the world.”

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