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Yesterday I went to Duke for the inaugural meeting of the TRLN Instruction Group. The TRLN is the Triangle Research Libraries Network, comprised of Duke, Central, NCSU, and UNC. However, the organizer of this meeting invited several folks from other libraries including UNCG, Guilford, and here, making it something she referred to as “TRLN Plus.” At the end of the meeting everyone agreed that the group was a good one and discussed possible names for the Triangle/Triad group rather than affiliating with TRLN. I think that this meeting fits very well with the informal WFU/UNCG/NCSU meetings we’ve had a few times, and perhaps the two groups could be combined into one.

Tomorrow you’ll hear all about the WFU/UNCG/NCSU meeting, so this post will focus on yesterday’s meeting.

The Lilly Library at Duke hosted the event, providing refreshments as people arrived and a place to meet and network. I saw several familiar faces from the North Carolina library instruction world, including our friends at UNCG, some folks I’ve met along the way at Duke, someone that I know from Twitter, and another person who I should have known given that she and I were at NCSU running in the same circles at the same time!

The main event of the day was a one hour presentation by NCSU on their “back story” tutorial project. You can see their tutorials on their website or YouTube channel. This project has been going on for a little while, I think I first heard about it at MERLOT, but has been in the works long enough now that there are several tutorials available for use.

Their take has been about as different from ours as you would expect, given that their institution is so different from ours. Whereas we have a lot of face-to-face contact, and place high value on classroom interaction, there is no way that the NCSU libraries could have the same level of face-to-face contact and classroom interaction based on size of the institution alone. So where our tutorials are being built to deal with technical issues to free up our instruction time to do the critical thinking, NCSU creates tutorials to focus on the critical thinking since they know they won’t be able to cover that content with all students.

NCSU also puts a lot of time, energy, and resources into each tutorial, whereas ours are created inexpensively and quickly. There are certainly arguments for both, but in the case of their tutorials, which focus on longer term issues that aren’t likely to change, it makes sense to invest more energy into making something that will be useful for years. Ours focus on tools and resources that change fairly quickly (for example, we need to redo all our toolkit tools on the catalog already), so we have to use a quick and dirty method to produce them in quantity.

NCSU’s tutorials focus on the “back story” of information: how peer review works, what a literature review is, how Wikipedia works, the anatomy of a scholarly article, etc. (Does this sound to anyone else like a lot of what gets covered in Lib100?) One of the particularly lovely things about the tutorials is that they are about concepts that apply to all libraries, regardless of what vendors you use or products you provide. So NCSU is intentionally creating them to be unbranded so that anyone could include them in their teaching. (Hint, hint, you could embed these in Lib100!) A lot of work and energy goes into the creation of their tutorials, so they’d like to see them be useful to a lot of people.

The NCSU back story project has been up and running long enough now to begin thinking about marketing and assessment, so that’s where some of the future work lies. I, for one, am very excited about their project, and can’t wait to see what they do next!