Friday, December 9, 2016

Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience

Bradford, Josie

Lambert. T. (2016). Virtual reality in the library: creating a new experience, Public Library Association: Public Libraries Online, 4 pgs.

I currently work at the Boise Public Library, and this article was passed out to staff to read in order to get an idea of why we are looking into investing in virtual reality in the next fiscal year.  We have currently been testing out vendors, and just the other day staff got the opportunity to test out virtual reality for the first time.  I was fortunate enough to explore an undersea world and test out the Tilt Brush.  I had my reservations about VR, but I was honestly beyond impressed.  If fact I was amazed at the possibilities that VR has in our future.   

The article Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience explains the exciting new possibilities that virtual reality has in public libraries.  As libraries transition away from their traditional roles, they have become more like community centers, centered around education, experience and introducing new technologies to the public, and since the purchase of Oculus by Google many public libraries are starting to realize that virtual reality is going to be the next big thing.  However, what is VR’s place in libraries?  How will it be implemented into programs and services?  

This article explores some of the possibilities that VR has in the future such as virtual travel experiences, virtual field trips, virtual gaming as well as virtual education and storytelling.
With VR users can explore fantastical worlds that don’t exist.  They can practice surgery, or see national monuments, and libraries are a great platform to provide these experiences.  However, how do libraries do this when they don’t have much of a budget?  This article suggests that there are several products out there that are very cheap such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear.  Patrons can also make their own VR kit out of cardboard and their phones as a craft project. 

This article also suggests that in addition to VR, augmented reality is also going to play a role in libraries of the future. Augmented reality is a way to use a camera in conjunction with software to alter the appearance of a space, so patrons can see virtual stacks or go on a virtual tours of the library.  These new technologies are very exciting for libraries and offer endless possibilities for use.    

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