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.