In a world going digital, libraries need to find creative and innovative ways to help their patrons access information and experiences.
With virtual reality and 360 film technology, South Australian Libraries are doing just that!
Traditionally, librarians have facilitated immense learning opportunities through helping people find books, texts, articles and videos on pretty much any topic they’re interested in. SA Libraries have taken this to a whole new level by connect their patrons with immersive experiences using Virtual Reality technology (VR).
Choosing to learn about ancient Rome or the Pyramids in Egypt can be taken to a whole new level in some SA Libraries locations with librarians now having the training and the technology to take you there, immerse you in another culture and allow you to walk among the mummies and tombs in VR.
Think Digital was approached by Jon Bentick at Public Library Services SA to increase the digital skills and confidence of the librarians around immersive technologies. The first workshop was run by Tim Gentle at the State Library of South Australia and at the Mount Gambier Library. We worked with the librarians to help them understand and use 360 photo and film technologies, virtual and augmented reality, and how to add 360 photos to their Google map listing. We visited the Great Barrier Reef within the Google Cardboard VR Headsets, and had augmented reality with dinosaurs popping out of books!
Going back to the libraries for a second workshop months later gave us the opportunity to see the results of the first session, and it was incredible to see the confidence and skills built in the librarians. In Adelaide, one of the librarians had a smartwatch taking her pulse, and used her phone to augment her beating heart for everyone to see in real time.
In Mt Gambier, Danni Read and Ricky Koopman had produced their own augmented reality streetscape so that if someone held an iPad up at an old photograph of the street outside, it would show the street as it looks now.
We were then able to build on their skills, and shared the knowledge with the librarians so they could run their own workshops on immersive technologies within their communities. We focused on content creation, and showed them how to make their own 360 photos and videos. We also left our first VRKit with the Mt Gambier librarians, which allowed for group synchronised virtual reality experiences, as well as augmented reality.
Turning theory into practice, it was incredible to hear that Danni and Ricky were hosting their own workshops, and that they had participants from as young as 16 to as old as 60 learning about virtual reality and other immersive technologies. They had even filmed their own 360 video, uploaded it to YouTube, then watched it in the YouTube VR with everyone in the synchronised headsets.
As educators, Think Digital sets out to create a cycle to showcase immersive technologies, and empower and educate in using it. We hope that this in turn develops immersive storytellers who will in turn go out to their own community to educate and create. Librarians are the invaluable facilitators in sharing the digital world with their community!
We are so proud of our involvement with SA Libraries and seeing the evolution they’re undergoing in exploring and using immersive technologies further. If you’d like to know more about our VRKits or workshops, please get in touch!