On March 13, 2015 I traveled with Steve Kelley to the annual LAUNC-CH Conference in Chapel Hill. Unlike Leslie, Ellen, and Kaeley, I did so without the stress of a presentation engagement. What followed was a fairly relaxing day of programming. (Not wanting to add to anyone’s jitters, I opted not to watch my colleagues’ presentation; but I heard rave reviews.)

The keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey A. Greene, a professor at UNC, refuted the belief that modern students are truly “digital natives.” Oftentimes it is assumed that, having grown up with the internet, smart phones, etc., today’s students have a natural knack for digital literacy. Mr. Greene argued that this is not nearly so true as is commonly believed. For one thing, it is a false assumption that all students grow up with computers. Some do not. Nor has the human brain done a lot of evolving in the short space of time the internet has been around. Students still need help. And given that professors often don’t have time to teach kids how to learn, librarians fill an essential role in helping them navigate the complex information landscape.

Marc Bess and Somaly Kim Wu from UNC-Charlotte presented on their beta “49er Alerts” system whereby library patrons who opt in by downloading and activating a particular app receive (via Bluetooth or Apple’s iBeacon) helpful information as they move throughout the library. Such “proximity marketing” technology allows for the automatic sending of messages about circulation desk hours, new e-resources relevant to a particular subject range in the stacks, or library events, based on the physical location of the user’s device. It sounds like a cool program. They hope to share the code, which is being developed by one of their grad students, by the end of the year.

Will Cross and Greg Raschke from NC State talked about the brokenness of the current textbook market and students’ captivity to preposterously inflated book costs. NCSU’s Alt-Textbook project is a grant-funding program in which the Libraries provide money and support to instructors who are interested in exploring alternative teaching resources. Their goals are to improve instruction by tailoring course materials to individual instructors, to decrease cost for students, and to provide instructional support in the form of library experts in copyright, digitization, and online instruction. (Here I thought about our own library experts at ZSR, and how lucky we are to have them.) Mr. Cross, a lawyer, made the interesting point that cost-saving measures such as these ought to look pretty good to budget-conscious state legislators concerned with the cost of higher education.

Magnanimous, no? To close, I’ll skip to the lightning talks that ended the day. NC State’s Hunt Library has a nifty program of showing films digitized by A/V Geeks on a weekly basis alongside commentary from speakers in various disciplines. I was glad to learn that Skip from A/V Geeks is out there. Jaci Paige Wilkinson, a SILS student at UNC, then presented the interesting notion that hip-hop music provides a compelling case study for thinking about linked data given its heavy use of musical samples that relate to various works and creators in different ways (RDA relator codes, anyone?). It was a thought-provoking way to end the afternoon.