Focus Carolina

Focus Carolina: Elaine Westbrooks

As the University Librarian, she ensures that the Carolina community has the resources it needs to continue learning and to preserve the history and culture of North Carolina.

Elaine Westbrooks in a library
University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks says North Carolinians can depend on the libraries to make sure that future generations have access to the rich history of the University and the state. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

As the University Librarian, Elaine Westbrooks oversees 10 libraries and more than 10 million volumes. Her goal is to ensure that the Carolina community has the resources it needs to continue learning and to preserve the history and culture of North Carolina.

More than 10 million people have made virtual visits to Carolina’s libraries to access information over the past year. Some are students conducting research for classes; others are international scholars accessing Carolina’s unique collections.

Whether it’s books, manuscripts, journals or musical recordings, Carolina’s libraries have millions of items “that people can access from home at night in their pajamas,” Westbrooks said.

While the library will always have books, it also allows students to have access to technology. “We’re not your grandmother’s library,” Westbrooks said.

Prior to the pandemic, students could access hardware, video and audio recording equipment to create podcasts and videos. Today, they can still access online tools to  create digital images and videos that become part of multimedia scholarly works produced as part of their studies.

Westbrooks joined Carolina in 2017 and leads a team of 300 librarians, archivists and staff. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in linguistics and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Every day, faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that makes an impact in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM.

Read a transcript of this interview.

Read a transcript of this interview.