By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published March 07, 2019
Justin Chrysostom, Air University librarian, shares a few of the new technologies offered at the AU library during the MGMWERX Library Ideation Workshop, Feb. 21, 2019, in Montgomery, Alabama. The Air University Library recently opened the new Innovation Lab, which boasts augment reality and virtual reality headsets, a 3D printer and a raspberry pie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Jason Griffey, Harvard University metaLAB affiliate, takes notes of the different technologies Liberians say they offer at their universities during the MGMWERX Library Ideation Workshop, Feb. 21, 2019, in Montgomery, Alabama. Griffey facilitated the workshop by encouraging the attendees’ to discuss ways to implement new technologies at their respective libraries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Dorothy Ogden, University of Alabama – Birmingham Emerging Technologies librarian, checks out virtual reality through an Oculus Rift headset at the MGMWERX Library Ideation Workshop, Feb. 21, 2019, in Montgomery, Alabama. During the workshop, the attendees discussed different types of technologies that could be used to enhance student’s experience in the library, with the use of augmented reality and virtual reality being the main one. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
MGMWERX opened their doors again to foster the creation of ideas, but this time focusing solely on libraries, by hosting the Library Ideation Workshop, March 1, 2019, in Montgomery, Alabama.
The workshop brought together librarians from universities and colleges from Alabama and Mississippi, to discuss how they can better create a more dynamic learning environment with the use of emerging technologies.
The librarians hailed from universities such as Air University, Alabama State University, Lobaki VR Academy and University of Alabama – Birmingham.
To facilitate the four-hour workshop, MGMWERX invited Harvard metaLAB affiliate, Jason Griffey.
Griffey is also a founder and principal for Evenly Distributed, a technology consulting and creation firm for libraries, museums, education, and other non-profits, and is a former Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.
Out of all the emerging technologies discussed, the hot topic was augmented and virtual reality.
Griffey recalled a time while he was working at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, their library installed a 3D printer during a time when it was unknown as to why a library would need one. In turn, this allowed a department that wouldn’t have access to this technology otherwise, in this case the Dance department, to explore a new form of expression that wouldn’t have happened if the printer had been “hidden away” in one specific department.
“I think that’s going to be the case moving forward for AR/VR,” he said, “making it broadly available is the most responsible way for a university to provide access to it. That is always going to be in the library, it’s the only place on campus that doesn’t have that political ownership.”
Librarians from each of the universities shared the technologies that they possess and the services they provide with them, as well as the shortcomings they’ve encountered.
One drawback a university librarian said they were having was the overall reluctance from students to use AR/VR.
“We all sort of have a natural reaction to new things, where they might be dangerous and they’re probably scary, but I think it’s partially up to us in the library world, especially when you’re dealing with those 18 – 35 year olds, to not to let that overtake us when it comes to the implications of potential of new technologies,” he said.
To wrap things up, Griffey presented what he believes is next for technology, which includes the same concepts we see today, but more functional and wearable. Additionally, he had the librarians brainstorm on what technologies they would like to see in the future and how they could be implemented in a library.
Air University Library director, Dr. Mehmed Ali said, “The input and ideas that we received today are really going to propel the process of getting the AU Library and our regional partners in implementing Augmented Reality at our institutions. Another great day for expanding our intellect!”