The presentation was by Australian brothers Scott and Steven Mundell, who paid a 30-day visit to libraries in California and who have set up a website, https://augmentedlibraries.com/, which serves as a searchable, curated collection of VR/AR/MR hardware, software, and experiences for libraries. Users can filter the collection by technology, theme or cost.
Here are a few pictures of last night’s meeting:
The Libraries in XR group has members from all around the world, who are interested in applications of VR and AR to public and academic libraries. The group plans to hold regular meetings in AltspaceVR, so check the Events Calendar for the next meetup! You can also join their Discord server (here’s an invitation). See you at the next meeting!
Did you know that there is now a group of librarians and other library workers who are meeting weekly on the AltspaceVR social VR platform?
The XR in Libraries meetup brings librarians and library allies together to discuss the role that libraries can play at making XR technologies (VR/AR/MR) available to the communities we serve. Meeting in virtual reality provides us a practical way for us to test the affordances of various virtual meeting spaces, and to explore the associated technologies.
You are invited to our second meeting to discuss VR/AR/MR in libraries, share your experiences and get ideas for new ones. This meetup will take place on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM Central Standard Time (or Thursday, March 19th, 2020, 02:00-03:00 UTC). Everyone is welcome!
This morning, I decided to submit an application to be a speaker about applications of social VR to libraries at the upcoming Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, which will run from February 17th to 22nd, 2020. Wish me luck! I’m crossing my fingers that my proposed talk will be accepted!
Instead of a physical real-world location, the entire conference will take place on various social VR platforms, including:
AltspaceVR (where I understand most of the conference will be taking place)
AltspaceVR is actually a pretty good choice as a platform for this conference, since it is pretty much accessible to almost everybody, including flatscreen PC users (although I still object to the cartoony avatars from a purely aesthetic standpoint 😉 …).
The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is a free, open-to-the public, virtual event lasting 6 days (over 80 round-the-clock hours) with a diverse range of speakers and presentations covering:
• The Basics of VR/AR/XR/MR • Research into Spatial Technologies in Education • Corporate Uses for Training and Education • Language Arts Training, Education, and as a Classroom • Coaching and Personal Development • Medical and Science • Computer Science and Math • Student Maker/Creator Projects, Collaborations, and Apps • Virtual Applications and Hardware for the Classroom
And so much more. We have topics under consideration covering the use of social media with virtual reality, education in religion and virtual worlds, world building, VR/AR app development, social and educational VR platforms, and open discussions with some of the world’s foremost experts in education and integrating extended reality.
The Educators in VR group that is putting on this event is an open, international, cross-platform community of educators, researchers, and trainers exploring and collaborating with and in virtual and augmented reality. They host weekly meetups in AltspaceVR on Tuesdays. They also have an active Discord server (here’s the invite link to join if you are interested). They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.
Even if I am not accepted as a speaker or panelist at the summit, I do plan to attend as much as I can of this event! The best part is, I don’t have to spend any money on conference fees, or buy a plane ticket to fly anywhere! (Trying to fit my tired, old, fat ass into economy airline seating for several hours at a stretch is no longer my idea of a fun time.)
If you wish to submit a proposal yourself to present at the conference, here is the link (the deadline is December 30th, 2019). The summit is also looking for volunteers; here is the link to apply if you want to help out.
Virtual reference is reference service initiated electronically, often in real-time, where patrons employ computers or other Internet technology to communicate with reference staff, without being physically present. Communication channels used frequently in virtual reference include chat, videoconferencing, Voice over IP, co-browsing, e-mail, and instant messaging…
Reference services requested and provided over the Internet, usually via e-mail, instant messaging (“chat”), or Web-based submission forms, usually answered by librarians in the reference department of a library, sometimes by the participants in a collaborative reference system serving more than one institution.
One important issue that virtual reference service via VR would face is the licensing of resources. Libraries sign license agreements with commercial database publishers which restrict access to institutional users only. This means that, if I were to provide reference services to a user not affiliated with my institution, I would not be able to provide them with copies of books and articles. However, there are still many useful non-commercial information resources such as Google Scholar that we could refer users to, as well as the myriad of resources of their own local public and academic libraries. Librarians refer users to other libraries all the time.
Another key issue is the cost of VR equipment and the learning curve associated with social VR platforms. While I would argue that it is easier and more natural to get started in Sansar than it is in Second Life, it’s still a significant challenge for many people to take their first steps in VR. The first generation of VR headsets, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, were complicated to set up, and required an expensive gaming-level computer. However, cheaper standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Quest promise to bring VR to an ever larger audience of consumers, including potential library users.
I can forsee a future (starting perhaps a decade from now) where many libraries would offer virtual reference services to users via virtual reality (“VR in VR”, if you like). Users could make appointments for their avatar to meet in-world with a reference librarian, who would assist them in finding electronic and printed information resources to answer their questions. Alternatively, library staff could sit at the virtual reference desk at regularly scheduled shifts, available to whoever dropped in with a query. The reference interview would encompass both text chat and voice chat, and include hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions, just as in real-life conversations. Academic, public, and special libraries could even work together to create a collaborative, 24/7 reference service which spans the globe and has locations on many popular social VR platforms.
As I said, it’s not here yet. But it’s coming, and perhaps sooner than you might think.