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transparent reference desk and large screen monitor

On Friday, Susan, Erik, Jean-Paul, and I went to NCSU for a gathering of librarians working at the intersection of libraries, instruction, and technology.

This gathering has evolved quite a bit in the past few years. The first meet up was at UNCG, when Steve Cramer got in touch to see if we wanted to share information about some of the new and interesting work happening at both our libraries. We got together here next, and extended the invitation to NCSU as well, since we knew they were doing some similar types of projects. Then, NCSU hosted and invited someone from Duke. We’re now at the point of having to think more carefully about the purpose of the group, what size we’re comfortable with it growing to, and how to maximize the time for those involved. Along the way I set up a wiki, which the group is using to keep track of what we’re covering.

So, this was the first time this group met at NCSU, and it was a really good time. We had a packed agenda, and ended up spending most of our time on specific projects from each institution. This was a really good use of time, though, to see what people are doing and to go a little further in depth with each project.


  • GroupFinder is a project created to get around the fact that many cell phones don’t work within the library. Students can use the GroupFinder website to let their friends/classmates know what part of the library they’re studying in. Students can see this information on the website or the large display panels around the library. When doing usability testing on this, library staff approached people in their coffee shop saying they’d buy their cup of coffee for 5 minutes of their time. This gave them all kinds of relevant feedback that they incorporated into the product.
  • Wolfwalk is a project that is still in development, but is one I’m really interested in and that I cited in the Top Tech Trends panel. It’s a step towards augmented reality, where they’ve created an app that displays photos from their archives for wherever you happen to be standing. It’s really neat, and I was glad to have a chance to actually see it in action. Again, I think there’s a lot of promise in augmented reality (further down the road) and this is one example of how libraries can really do some interesting and useful work in that area.


  • Google Forms for assessment: UNCG is using Google Forms to collect data on all kinds of things. They highlighted using it for pre and post assessment for one-shot instruction sessions, but also for stats for reference and instruction. We talked about how it would be useful to have a bank of assessment questions to share amongst different institutions.
  • Assignment Calculator: Like many libraries, UNCG has implemented an assignment calculator. However, the really interesting work they’re doing with it comes from the next steps… They are looking at how to build in social features. For example, including ways to share assignments with groups for collaborative papers, or having the calculator send Tweets to students about deadlines as they come up. They’re also looking at how to incorporate faculty input for specific resource to look at in the process of writing a paper or deadlines that professors might have along the way that are slightly different from the ones given by the calculator.


  • Susan discussed the Social Stratification course and some of the ways it has impacted the larger campus.
  • Erik explained the mini studio, how we came to host it, and the service we offer.

People seemed very interested in both of our topics!


We also talked about instructional technologies in general, and spent a good portion of that time on LibGuides. We were pointed to usability studies from the University of Michigan. Fascinating stuff!!

I think this is a really interesting group, because all the institutions are fairly forward looking about instructional technology, but we’re all very different. UNCG and NCSU are state schools that face some different restrictions than Duke and WFU. NCSU and Duke are research 1 schools, and UNCG is still really big compared with WFU. We also have very different staff sizes and organizational charts. Yet, with all these differences, we still face a lot of the same issues, and could possibly collaborate in some areas.

The WFU crowd left at lunch, part of the group due to meetings back here, and me so that I could go see my soon-to-be nephew. However, the group is continuing discussions virtually about what type of future it might take on. Let me know if you have any ideas or recommendations!