This year, Bryant University celebrates the 20th anniversary of the George E. Bello Center for Information and Technology, which houses the Douglas and Judith Krupp Library. Since it first opened in 2002, the Bello Center has served as a campus hub for learning and gathering, offering resources and services to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the local community.
The Bello Center for Information and Technology is a cutting-edge academic and professional research center. Built in 2002, as big data, computer technology, and the Internet were beginning to reshape the fabric of American society, the Bello Center was designed to support academic work that embraced and harnessed the power of technology to revolutionize the academic experience. Twenty years later, the Bello Center continues to serve as a community hub and critical University resource for the entire Bryant community, continuously evolving to keep pace with new developments in technology to meet the needs of today’s students, faculty, and staff.
Laura Kohl, Director of Library Services, says a student-centered approach has been critical to the success of the Bello Center and the Krupp Library. She joined the Krupp Library’s staff in 2006, and her priority, she says, has always been to “meet students where they are for our services.” By keeping students in mind, Kohl says, the Bello Center has been able to anticipate changes, adapt to their needs, and provide value in a changing higher education landscape. In 2009, as SMS text messaging began to gain popularity, Kohl designed and implemented a program that enabled students to text librarians for assistance with library services. “No one was doing that,” she says. “It was just us and Yale at that point.” That texting service is still consistently utilized today, and its continued success exemplifies the Bello Center and Krupp Library’s attitude towards the services it provides. “Folks are very excited to try new things,” says Kohl. “My colleagues will say, ‘let's give it a shot and see what happens.’ If it doesn't work, that's okay. We'll dust ourselves off and try something new.”
The Bello Center attracts continued innovation and investment, including the C.V. Starr Financial Markets Center, which provides a real-world educational experience that immerses students in a state-of-the-art financial markets environment; 12 Bloomberg Terminals, an industry-standard market analysis tool for the finance industry, which are available for student use; and the Data Visualization Lab, a cutting-edge virtual reality lab and educational space. These tools and more have adapted to meet the needs of Bryant students and the changing landscape of the American and international job markets.
“It's about having responsible citizens. We want graduates from Bryant University to have rigorous training on information literacy and data literacy.”
As Kohl looks to the future of the Bello Center and the Krupp Library, she emphasizes the growing importance of data analysis and information literacy skills, and she plans to expand library resources in those areas for students. “It's about having responsible citizens,” she says. “We want graduates from Bryant University to have rigorous training on information literacy and data literacy.”
She also highlights the role Krupp Library staff play in Bryant’s growing global scholarly footprint. “We are graduating students who are doing fantastic, original research that's contributing to the scholarly conversation,” she says, and she has prioritized using library resources to help amplify the reach of their research.
In its 20 years at Bryant, the Bello Center has impacted the lives of countless students, connecting them with critical resources and teaching them research and information skills that will serve them throughout their personal lives and professional careers. Often, students and alumni will reach out to share the transformational impact the Bello Center’s services had on their lives. For Kohl, that’s what makes her job so enjoyable. “It reminds me why I became a librarian."