Virtual Reality in Rhode Island

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 1:26 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

In the fall of 2017 I attended the Futures Conference in Atlantic City where I saw a presentation by Oculus VR, LLC. The company donated Oculus Rift VR systems to 90 libraries in the state and basically said, “Have fun!” And they did!! Just google “Oculus Rift in California libraries” and you’ll find all kinds of press.

In their presentation, Oculus noted how VR is currently being used. I was moved by the research being done with full immersion virtual reality; empathy building in particular. So, I looked at my conference mates and said, “OK, Let’s do this!!” But, VR is expensive, and this was 6 months before every library journal published an article about having VR in the library. My conference mates were excited, but also not convinced to spend the money.

When the Studio Rhode Next Generation Library Challenge, phase 2 came along, I decided this was my chance. I wrote the grant with the idea that Warwick Library would have a permanent VR set up, as well as a traveling VR system that we could loan out to libraries in Rhode Island. I firmly believe that as a small state we should be sharing big ticket items that may not be used regularly. (Aren’t we the ultimate sharers?)

I received the grant and now we have a traveling HTC Vive VR system, an Asus ROG STRIX Gaming Laptop loaded with over 65 VR experiences and games, and all you need to set up a room scale virtual reality experience. Give me a call, I’ll bring it to you. If you need training, we can plan a session where I hang out and teach your staff how to set it up and use it. Then you can hold your own programs, without the cost of purchasing a whole system. Thanks to Studio Rhode and OLIS!!

Here are some of the programs we have done so far:

  • Minecraft creation camp – teens built a replica of the library in Minecraft and were able to explore it in VR. This was intense and I had a lot of help with it. The teens knew what they were doing, but I knew nothing about Minecraft.
  • Book group attendees have watched experiences that relate to the books they were reading. An example is they were reading about immigration and refugees and they watched Forced to Flee, a live film made in the Rohingya Refugee camp.
  • We have done several demonstrations in the lobby, to peak interest and get the word out that we have VR.
  • Teen Gaming time
  • 30 minute appointments for the public to sign up to use VR
By Jana L. Stevenson 

Deputy Director, Warwick Public Library