Disruptive technology: A look at virtual reality

Will virtual reality technology change the world? Maybe, according to this Time article from 2015. A lot of VR technology has been focused on the games sector, but there are lots of applications for libraries and other community organisations according to one article on Public Libraries Online:

Many patrons already check out books virtually and don’t visit the actual physical library too often, if at all. Are virtual reality labs, tours, and workshops the next step for libraries? The answer is a solid maybe as the technology develops and makes its way out of gaming and movies and into education and everyday experiences [source]

Library conferences have started to feature presentations on the use of virtual reality,  with the University of Adelaide Australia, and Broward County Library USA being just two examples from 2016.

At my own workplace, the University of Wollongong Library in Australia, we have a long history with digitisation of archival and other unique collections and have recently been collaborating with academics and students from creative arts using VR to both showcase one particular collection and provide an immersive teaching experience in the relevant disciplines. Specifically focused on the Yellow House artists collective based in Sydney in the early 1970s, VR technology has incorporated images from the Library’s collection to recreate a room from the house. While the physical building remains in Sydney, the artists collective is long since gone:


Presented at the VALA conference in February 2016, the project has generated interest and excitement from both library and creative arts communities. The Library has created a portal for the Yellow House and will continue to add content to this portal as it is available.

The future is here. The only question really is how we use it and what it becomes as it moves beyond experimental.

-Clare McKenzie, ILN Director of Communications



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