Dakota County Library had two presentations about their makerspace, iLab, and maker programs: Virtual Reality in Practice and Tech in the Suburbs.
Virtual reality is hot in the news and in popular culture.
Uses for VR:
- Aversion therapy
- Treatment of PTSD
- Creation of an intense group connection
- Evoking a feeling of empathy- putting oneself in someone else's shoes
- Combating memory loss
- Virtual tours for people with disabilities - e.g. people with autism who are disoriented by new places
- Immersive games
- Virtual visits to other countries for genealogy or history
Dakota County decided not to go with immersive experience viewers such as the Vive or the Oculus Rift because of issues with expense and instant obsolescence. Instead, they went with Viewmaster- cheap, sturdy, easy to clean, can be used in a class with a bunch of kids. A smartphone or similar device is required. Dakota County asks patrons to bring their own, then has two iPod Touches for people without their own device.
Tips for virtual reality programs:
- Do a short "body awareness" exercise before class to minimize disorientation.
- Monitor patrons so they don’t bump into something .
- Provide a disclaimer that VR is disorientating and to take a break if they experience discomfort.
- Not every app will be compatible with every device.
- Check the calibration settings for your device.
Currently, Dakota County only has a very basic "Exploring VR" class and sometimes has VR games when offering gaming programs. This summer, it will be more integrated into youth STEAM programs. Uses for virtual reality aren’t there for long programs yet. For Saint Paul Public Library, asking patrons to bring their own devices could be problematic, especially with youth.
- Cospaces - educational VR app
- Roundme - virtual tour app -there is a free version, but it doesn't do a full 360 degrees.
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes - cooperative game about disarming a bomb
Dakota County now has circulating 2Go! Kits for fitness, nature and maker activities, including 2 VR kits (smartphone not included). Kits are not request-able or renewable. Total cost was $2000 for 28 kits (2 copies of 14 kits). Tubs were purchased from Global industrial. Some items in the kits, such as a spindle for weaving and a lucet for braiding, were made using the 3D printer.
Maker programs at Dakota County Library:
- Homeschool science series
- Movie making for youth- kids work in pairs on in a small group to create a movie with iMovie, Legos, and a green screen.
- Makey-Makey and Snap Circuits.
- Coding - Scratch is free, Hour of Code has free activities.
- Robotics- Local high school robotics team volunteers
- Fashion battle - had a contestant from Project Runway mentor youth designers - asked for clothing donation from staff for kids to transform
- T-shirt quilt - patrons brought their own t-shirts
- DIY throw pillow
- Lucet braiding
- Bicycle maintenance
- Preserving digital memories - got 40 people to come
- NASA moon rocks - Have to pay for shipping, special storage, certification, and security guard if you publicize that moon rocks will be available.
- Hedgehog made from a book.
Sources for makerspace donations/grants:
- Local craft/hobbyist groups might be willing to donate equipment
- Craft stores might give away an old sewing machine when they get the new ones
- Local tech companies
- Chamber of Commerce
- Big box stores have education grants
- Local utility companies
- DEMCO has a grant search
The presentation for Virtual Reality in Practice is here.
In other maker news, St. Louis Public Library shared what they learned about collaboration from their makerspace, Creative Experience. Beth Staats from Minitex shared some notes.
Macalester College also has a makerspace, the Idea Lab. that is very art- and textile-oriented, but also has two 3D printers and a large-format inkjet printer. Here are some pictures.