OU Libraries Unites Experts on 3D and Virtual Reality Through IMLS Grant Funded Forum

The University of Oklahoma Libraries hosted a national forum on 3D and virtual reality (VR) technologies June 13 through 15. The forum, held at the Tom Love Innovation Hub on the OU-Norman campus, gathered researchers, practitioners and other leaders in imaging science and engineering, digital preservation, and digital libraries from across the United States to discuss their work.
This event is the second of three national forums funded through a $95K National Leadership Grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The three-part forum is led by Nathan Hall, associate director of digital imaging and preservation services at Virginia Tech University Libraries, along with Robert H. McDonald, associate dean of libraries at Indiana University and Matt Cook, head of emerging technologies at OU Libraries. 

“The overall goal of the project is to develop a roadmap and white paper for libraries’ adoption of 3D and VR services to support new ways of interacting with digital content,” says Cook. “We want to help form holistic knowledge from the normally siloed areas of 3D and VR by bringing together experts from a wide variety of disciplines.”
 The OU Libraries forum focused specifically on visualization and analysis to identify best practices for these technologies, while the other forums target workflows and tools for capturing metadata from content creation through visualization, archiving, and reuse, as well as best practices for repositories that enable description, discovery, and long-term preservation.
“A second goal (of the series) is to establish guidelines that can serve multiple research contexts and use cases for libraries to support 3D and VR as research tools, and to develop strategies that libraries can use for creating policies and workflows for providing related research services,” says Cook.
Topics covered during the OU Libraries forum include:
  • 3D/VR Visualization and Analysis
  • Developing 3D/VR tools
  • Using VR to support other library services
  • Human-centered issues of 3D/VR technology use
  • Modifying and repurposing 3D models
  • Course integrations and measuring impact on student learning
  • Sustainability: Reanimating 3D/VR objects.
Zack Lischer-Katz, a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Post-doctoral fellow studying at OU and one of the forum’s speakers, shared an example of the applications for OU Libraries.
“The educational implementation of this technology is still in its early days, and a multitude of institutions are tackling the same issues, oftentimes replicating similar work,” says Lischer-Katz. “This means solutions shared by one IMLS Forum participant could be mutually applicable. For example, on-the-ground practicalities associated with mitigating issues related to motion sickness and accessibility of this still cumbersome technology. Further, the importance of funding models and assessment metrics for evaluating learning outcomes was a valuable topic. If you can’t show that VR has measurable learning outcomes, then it becomes difficult to argue for continued funding and support from your institution’s administration.”
A public component to the forum also opened discussions beyond libraries, drawing participants from a range of contexts including academic programs across the university, public K-12 educators, and commercial VR developers, enabling a cross-pollination of ideas and sharing of best practices for implementing VR in a range of learning contexts.
The first of the three forums was held on March 2018 at the Virginia Tech Research Center, Arlington, VA on “Content Creation and Publishing.” The final forum is planned for September 2018 at the Big Ten Conference Center, Rosemont, IL on “Repository Practices and Standards.” 
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