Impact of cloud computing on LIS tools and instruction


Current approaches to information technology (IT) instruction often include the use of computing environments to help students learn about tools and platforms. This practice is common in technical disciplines such as Computer Science and Library and Information Science (LIS). In these disciplines it is common for schools to use client solutions such as VirtualBox or locally implemented Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) solutions to serve these needs. This approach however ignores the larger impact of cloud computing on technology tools/skills and fails to capitalize on the benefits of scale and sustainability provided by cloud-based solutions.

Further, in the Library and Information Science graduate school community, students have a real need to learn more about cloud computing and get hands-on experience with cloud-based systems. By exploring LIS tool implementation in the cloud and the creation of an inter-institutional VCL, this project could potentially transform technology education in the LIS community. The project plan includes studying the implications of cloud computing on traditional open source library information systems (e.g. digital libraries and index/retrieval systems) and seeks to design a VCL running on the Amazon platform that would serve the LIS education community.

Research plan

This study seeks to answer two research questions:

  1. How do existing cloud-computing technologies enable or inhibit implementation of open source library information systems? What approaches facilitate the implementation and management of these systems?
  2. How can current library information systems be implemented in a cloud-based VCL environment? How would an inter-institutional VCL on Amazon function?

Communication Plan

In the initial phase of the research a web-presence will be launched that discusses the goal of the research and current work. As solutions are tested and data is gathered on cloud computing skills/needs in libraries the site will be updated to show progress.

In the fall of 2012 and through 2013, an Amazon based VCL platform will be made available to LIS students to work with. The intent of this work is to provide a template and hosting environment for development of resources. The project will result in multiple papers and presentations in the Computing, Information Science, and Library communities.


  • Fall 2011 – Continue survey of cloud computing adoption in libraries, prepare for technical exploration of VCL resources by creating evaluative framework for VCL development, use and sustainability.
  • Spring 2012 – Select testable information systems (e.g. digital libraries, index/retrieval tools, library metadata management tools) and implement them using AWS resources.
  • Summer 2012 – Explore technology environment development and use in different VCL environments, write article comparing and contrasting results
  • Fall 2012/Spring 2013 – Refine VCL implementation and scale a single selection for use by wider LIS community. Publish paper on cloud computing impact on LIS skill and tool literacy requirements
  • Summer / Fall 2013 – Evaluate outcome from Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 exploration and use. Create plan for project sustainability.

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