Student employees at NC State University Libraries are livestreaming resource tutorials every day of the week on Twitch, an online broadcasting service that allows users to livestream content while interacting with viewers in real time. The program’s main purpose is to showcase the library’s resources and to give NC State students a casual place to learn by watching experts and asking questions.
Students can watch the livestreams on the NC State Libraries Twitch page from 6-8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 2-4 p.m. on Fridays.
Claire Cahoon, an NC State libraries fellow in data visualization services and experiential learning spaces and services, said the libraries began streaming over the summer to show students everything they could safely during COVID-19 and with restricted access to the library facilitates. Her hope is to encourage students to take full advantage of the resources being offered.
“We’re hoping to show that this is all stuff that [students] can participate in,” Cahoon said. “If they see something that’s really cool in the Makerspace that they want to try, it’s available to them. Same thing with the Digital Media Lab and all of the equipment in the VR studio; these are all available to NC State students and affiliates.”
According to Colin Nickels, an experiential learning spaces and services librarian, the program was initially created to fill the gap in employment left by the closure of the experiential learning spaces.
“In response to the coronavirus, as we mentioned before, many of our spaces closed, but we still had all of these student employees that we would feel bad just being like ‘Sorry, no job. Goodbye,’” Nickels said. “So we started with that as our pool of students who might be interested.”
Since then, some employees have been added to the libraries’ staff, with Twitch being one of their explicit responsibilities. The program has also expanded to feature library experts and other guest speakers. These guests vary from student organizations to other NC State University Libraries staff and more.
“We have a regular schedule that we stick to on a weekly basis that includes two of those guest slots, and those guest slots change depending on who’s filling them,” Nickels said. “...Depending on what it is, we’ll have an events page up on the [NC State University Libraries’ website] describing what it’s going to be and what they’re talking about.”
Nickels explained that the NC State University Libraries chose Twitch over live streaming services such as YouTube Live or Facebook Live because they believe it is a more casual and comfortable space where students can separate themselves from their identity.
“You create a semi-anonymous username on Twitch that isn’t necessarily tied to who you are,” Nickels said. “We hoped this would allow people to ask any kind of question they wanted to ask. We wanted to allow people the freedom to not feel dumb.”
Gwen Faircloth, a second-year studying textile technology, is familiar with Twitch but not the libraries’ new venture. However, she is impressed with the informal setting for learning about the libraries’ technologies and thinks it is helpful for students who heavily rely on the programs for their majors.
The library is currently operating by drop-in hours where student employees and other staff members stream from the libraries’ Makerspace, Virtual Reality (VR) Studio and Digital Media Lab. The livestreams showcase how students can use these spaces for various things such as sewing masks, 3D modeling and painting in VR. Viewers can pop in and watch past streams any time or participate in livestreams by asking questions in the chat feature.
The NC State University Libraries plan to continue their Twitch livestreams even as the University plans for normalcy in the fall because they’ve seen a lot of potential in the program so far.
“We were really proud of the content that we’ve created so far, but also there’s a lot of different places to grow and new collaborations that we could try, so I think we are hoping to increase awareness and let people know it’s out there,” Cahoon said.
Nickels also said that a space made specifically for livestreaming may be in the libraries’ future.
More information about the program can also be found on the NC State University Libraries livestream website.