Staff ID - Meet Elisa Lanzi

Learn more about the Libraries' new Director of Digital Strategies and Services.

Elisa Lanzi, Director of Digital Strategies & Services, (413) 585-2912


To help the libraries expand our digital horizons, Elisa joined us in March of 2013 as Director of Digital Strategies and Services, a newly created position that supervises the libraries digital services team. In collaboration with Smith’s ITS, other groups in the libraries, and our Five College colleagues, the team administers and supports the technical infrastructure of the libraries, oversees our web and social media presence, and manages development of emerging technologies such as digital asset management. 

Elisa’s previous technology and library backgrounds readied her for these many responsibilities. A trained reference librarian, she became the Director of Smith’s Imaging Center in 2000, overseeing the creation and cataloging of digital image collections, and supporting the image databases used on campus for teaching and learning purposes. 

In addition to her administrative work, Elisa is involved in library collection development for the Religion department, and for the Burack collection of contemporary fiction and non-fiction. She is currently learning a lot about women’s historic clothing by being involved in the Five Colleges Digital Humanities project on historic clothing (

Originally from Rochester, NY, Elisa has lived in New England for many years, although you can still sometimes detect her Western New York accent!

We asked Elisa for some more information about herself.

What is the best part of your job?

I have always loved working with students and that’s what keeps me at Smith. This year I’m going to be a library mentor for several incoming Ada Comstock students. I’m also on the Book Studies Concentration Advisory Committee. The students in that program have a wide range of interests from traditional bookmaking to online publishing to the history of reading.

Elisa in Italy [photo left]

What are you reading right now?  What’s good about it?

I usually have a few things going at once, online and a real book out of the stacks. It’s very tempting to pick up new titles as I walk by the Burack collection in the Neilson lobby. I just finished Clare Messud’s “The Woman Upstairs.” It’s about a woman and her creative life … the challenges, the risks, and the inevitable compromises. Plus Messud is an outstanding writer. I also recommend her other title, “The Emperor’s Children”.

What inspired you to work in a library?

I grew up in a household with an artist and a teacher. My parents fostered a passion for art and culture, a community service ethic, and most important, the joy of learning and reading. One of our favorite Saturday outings was to the “big” library downtown, the Rochester Rundel Library. Talk about lost in the stacks! My parents never censored our selections. I remember being quite young when I read Michener’s “Caravans” and Uris’ “Exodus,” two “adult” novels set in the Middle East. While I was trained as a reference librarian I got involved in cataloging and metadata early in my career. It comes in handy as I'm now cataloging my father's artwork.

What do you think libraries of the future will look like?

Well, that’s what we think about every day over here! While the digital revolution has changed the way we deliver our collections and services, the idea of the library as a hub where information is created and exchanged remains fundamental. Cultural institutions like libraries and museums are embracing opportunities to become even more vital to teaching and learning. We’ll be getting more involved with scholarly communication, that is, online publishing, as scholars look to provide open access to their intellectual output. The library of the future will still be a physical place too. Just visit our marvelous Reading Room in Neilson, recently renovated by the Friends of the Library. It’s full of students reading books and using mobile devices. Comfy chairs, huge windows, and superb artwork make for a timeless environment.

What is your favorite getaway?

A few years ago I began exploring my Italian-American family heritage starting with a trip to my father’s ancestral home in Anagni (near Rome). I was hooked and since then I’ve traveled all over Italy. This summer my husband and I went to Sicily and I also made a pilgrimage to Fabriano, the home of Italian papermaking since the 13th century. The Museo della Carta is a hands on museum and I got to experience papermaking with historic equipment [see photo].

What do you like to do the most when you are not at work?

I’m an artist working in handmade paper and printmaking and am part of a group called Trout Paper. I love to travel, write, hike, and garden. Oh, yes, and cooking!

Elisa welcomes visitors to her office in the administrative office suite at Neilson, or you can say “hi” during her frequent travels around campus!