Skip to main content

The Sphere in Las Vegas is a virtual reality building seating 18,000 viewers, and as the lights dim to darkness, these viewers become fully enveloped by a massive wrap-around screen that launches their minds into a convincing and breathtaking VR experience.

Meta’s Quest 3 YouTubeVR feature does essentially the same thing as the Sphere. Flying through the Milky Way galaxy with the James Webb satellite; wandering the streets in Amalfi, Italy with Rick Steves; being part of a kite festival; landing a F-16 jet on an aircraft carrier; walking with dinosaurs; or taking part in a mini-concert with Olivia Rodrigo are just a few examples of how the Colonial Heights Public Library staff is using the Quest YouTubeVR programing for all ages. The Quest 3 viewer sees a very large, curved theater screen, and as the video is launched, the lights go down, and the VR adventure begins.

We have learned several things along the way:

  • YouTubeVR is standard YouTube plus a collection of 3D, 360° videos.
  • Motion sickness is a common peril, and staff selections must have a very smooth camera flow (i.e., mountain biking and Red Bull events are generally not good VR choices).
  • Dolby Vision selections ranging from 4K to 12K are extraordinary and common, and particularly with natural events such as swimming with sea animals or visiting countries.
  • Quest units are often associated with the young gamers, but we have found that the senior population is often a better target group, particularly with highly visual travelogues. A recently released Stanford University study found that seniors, with their growing limitations, benefit greatly by having their spirits lifted with VR.
  • We initially created subject playlists within the Quest 3 (i.e., travel, adventure, the universe, etc.) but eventually found that breaking the subject playlists down by age group was better. Olivia Rodrigo appeals to a different age group than those visiting the Amsterdam tulip festival.
  • Staff members are assigned to develop playlist collections according to their age. Younger staff members make selections for the very young and young adult patrons, while older staff members select for adult patrons.

The Quest 3 is joining the library’s digital device family, which includes the Microsoft HoloLens, Apple’s iPad Pro, and a growing list of artificial intelligence software resources such as Adobe’s Firefly.

The first order of any brick-and-mortar establishment is to get the customer in the door. Our goal in developing a digital device collection is not to overshadow the book, but to lure the digital generation into the library. Parallel to the development of the device collection, the library has significantly grown the number of book displays. The patron wanting a VR or AR experience must walk by hundreds of displayed books to reach any of these devices. The objective is to remind the screen-time generation that tempting books still exist.

Finally, we anticipate using these digital devices in our summer reading programs as adventure tools, while wrapping the program space with display books.

An example of a video used on the Quest 3. In your computer browser you can move the image with your mouse, on the Quest 3 you simply have to move your head.

Bruce Hansen, Director, Colonial Heights Public Library

Leave a Reply