May 20, 2022

"LifeTime Library Thought to be the First Nationwide" (UNC Chapel Hill)

From the University of North Carolina News:

How often have you wondered, “What did I do with that report I presented when I was in college? Did I save it on my laptop, on a CD, to my cell phone, or is it on a computer I no longer have?”

Or, after graduating, have you sadly remembered that you saved a special photo in your folder on the university’s server only to realize it was now gone forever?

Now imagine keeping those items all together and staying permanently connected to your university with the gift of digital storage throughout your lifetime. This fall, that gift was presented to new students in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The students are the first at UNC to use a new, web-based LifeTime Library, the brainchild of Gary Marchionini, Ph.D., dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor at the school. He believes the service will be the first of its kind at any university.

Since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1998, Marchionini has pondered ways to allow students to keep their digital files where they can access them whenever they need them for as long as they need them, before and after graduation.

“The vision is for students to be provided with storage facilities that would persist after they graduate,” Marchionini said. “This would include public space as well as private space to keep files, photographs, health records and legal downloads of music – all in one place.”


Two years in the making, the LifeTime Library has benefitted from research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and other prestigious sources. Last year a group of students tested it in a pilot project. Some were impressed by the library’s easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface.

“We’ve been designing it to be as user-friendly as possible,” said Mike Conway, a master’s degree candidate in the school who helped create the library as part of his work for RENCI – the Renaissance Computing Institute, a collaboration by seven North Carolina universities including UNC. For new users, “there won’t be much of a learning curve.”

Read the Complete Report

See Also: UNC to launch Digital Innovation Lab (via UNC News)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.