On Friday, March 18th, Amanda, Jeff, and Steve visited Chapel Hill to attend the LAUNC-CH Conference. This is an annual conference put on by the librarians at UNC-Chapel Hill and features breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to all aspects of academic librarianship.

Keynote Address: Makerspaces in Libraries (Amanda)

The Keynote Address was delivered by Peter Wardrip, a learning scientist from the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, who spoke to us about makerspaces. Wardrip led an upcoming project to create a framework for supporting learning in makerspaces, and he gave us a sneak peak of that framework:

  • Purpose – refers to determining makerspace goals. Who is the audience? What does success look like? In terms of success, Wardrip emphasized quality of experience over number of people served.
  • People – Wardrip argued that makerspaces need to be more than just putting a tool on a table to be successful. He highlighted the need to have dedicated people in the makerspace, preferably people with pedagogical experience. Even though people are expensive, the value in a makerspace comes from the teaching/mentorship.
  • Pieces and Parts – refer to being intentional about tools and materials. Wardrip argued that too many people rush out and buy a 3D printer when it doesn’t fit in with their program’s goals.

Wardrip also gave examples of how different makerspaces are measuring learning/value. An example of this being done well is the Tinkering Studio, which measures on five different dimensions of learning, which can be observed/reported on in the makerspace.

Map-a-thons, Edit-a-thons, and Transcribe-a-thons at UNC (Amanda)

Many of us are likely familiar with Wikipedia edit-a-thons, but GIS map-a-thons and special collections transcribe-a-thons were completely new to me. All of these initiatives work to get students and other library patrons involved in open knowledge creation. The map-a-thon used OpenSteetMaps to create openly available maps of parts of the world where no accurate maps currently exist. The transcribe-a-thon transcribing hand-written documents from the special collections for accessibility. Both of these projects were creative and unique. Personally, I was very excited to hear about UNC’s experience putting on an edit-a-thon through Wikipedia. I’m planning to have my students edit Wikipedia later this semester, so it was great to meet the librarians involved afterwards to get some first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Book + Art = Snowball (Jeff)

This is a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, i.e. the best kind of topic. Artists’ books are works of art that take the form of books. Josh Hockensmith from UNC-Chapel Hill talked about his library and Duke’s joint 2010 effort to stage exhibitions of artists’ books from their collections in a series called “Book + Art.” The benefits of partnership on a project like this range from expanded audience to shared cost/labor to greater diversity of expertise. An unplanned outcome of the events was the organic development of a local community centered around common interest the book arts, which eventually came to be known as Triangle Book Arts (TBA). This group in turn increased awareness of the artists’ books held by both UNC and Duke’s Special Collections departments: a win on all sides. And yes, we have some fascinating artists’ books of our own, right here at ZSR.

Archiving for Artists: Outreach and Empowerment (Jeff)

Elizabeth Grab, a graduate student from UNC-Chapel hill, presented on a day-long workshop called Archiving for Artists, which gathered area artists in an effort to empower them to develop best practices for archiving the products of their studio activities. Attendees were instructed in the fundamentals of digitization, organization, storage, etc. The hope of the organizers was that the workshop might serve as a model for similar workshops to be held around the country in a larger effort to encourage artists to document their work and their careers.

Libraries Unbounded: Partnering With Carolina ADMIRES to Expose High School Students to Scientific Research in a Library Setting (Steve)

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Amy Oldenburg and Therese Triumph, a physics professor and a science librarian, respectively, discussed their involvement in a grant funded program to get 8th and 9th grade students involved in the STEM disciplines, particularly encouraging gender and racial diversity. The program began last year with 20 students, who participated in two hour sessions twice a month for a semester. The students were put into pairs and matched with a mentor from the science departments or medical school at UNC. Each mentor was trained in working with high school age kids. About half the time of the sessions was spent in the lab, which had to be set up to be safe for high school age children. The students developed a research project, ending with a capstone research presentation. The students had to be taught the fundamentals of information literacy, because their initial impulse was to rely on Google and Wikipedia for their research, and they didn’t evaluate the credibility of their sources. One important lesson learned by the programmers was that some of the students did not have access to home computers and had to rely on their smart phones for research and staying in email contact with their mentors. The programming for the second year is taking this into account.

Programming on The Edge (Amanda)

This session informed us about the many new outreach activities taking place at Duke’s recently re-designed space called “The Edge.” No, not that Edge. This Edge. Most interesting to me was the Long Night Against Procrastination — an outreach event that has been successfully done at several other academic libraries. The LNAP takes place during finals week, late at night, much like our Wake the Library event. Library staff were there to provide snacks, games, and other activities related to campus wellness. Duke’s unique take on this was to partner with other academic support staff, like the tutors from the writing center. Writing consultations with three different tutors were booked solid for the four hours they were offered. This sounded like an excellent collaboration and perhaps an opportunity for us to explore in the future.

Researching Reynolda: Teaming up with a Campus Institution to Teach Students Research (Jeff)

Our own Amanda Foster presented on her experience with a project in which she instructed her students to choose some aspect of Reynolda House to research for her LIB100 class, using the house and museum, essentially, as their primary sources. Unforeseen difficulties arose when students chose the very worthy topic of the lives of African-American domestic workers at Reynolda House. The archival record, and Reynolda House’s public persona (can a house have a persona?), were disappointingly quiet on the topic. In the end Amanda was able to use this as a teaching moment; both for herself and for her students. I’ll limit my praise here, but Amanda really gave one of the more interesting conference presentations I’ve seen in awhile, making great use of visuals from Reynolda House’s rich history and a compelling narrative structure. And for the record, she went out of her way to praise Reynolda House and its excellent staff. She did ZSR and Wake Forest proud.