Blurred Lines—between virtual reality games, research, and education

GREENE, David and GROENENDYK, Michael (2018) Blurred Lines—between virtual reality games, research, and education. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 75 - Audiovisual and Multimedia with Information Technology.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Blurred Lines—between virtual reality games, research, and education

Immersive computing technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality headsets, are increasingly being adopted by library makerspaces and technology commons in both public and academic libraries. Through the use of HMDs (head-mounted displays), these technologies allow users to be transported to places real or imagined (VR) or to overlay convincing digital objects onto the real world (AR). However, do VR and AR truly have a place in the library context? Do these technologies simply provide new ways to play video games, or do they offer something more? Is the purchase of this often expensive equipment yet justified? In our paper, we argue that AR and VR technologies have a major potential to impact the library services of the future by introducing radical new forms of immersive media, and by also providing new ways to interact with existing forms of media. For this reason, we believe that libraries and librarians are justified in experimenting with virtual and augmented reality in their current, nascent forms, so that they might avoid playing catch-up in the future. We then discuss the ways in which the line between education and entertainment is blurred, and how the new immersive and participatory media enabled by VR and AR further contribute to breaking down this false dichotomy. In conclusion, we provide practical advice to libraries of all types and budgets for how to implement a VR/AR service based on our experience establishing one at the McGill University Library.

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