There’s some pretty exciting news over at the Boise Library. On March 1st, four locations unveiled VR set-ups to the public. Don’t have a system at home? No problem, now all you need is to visit your local library! Anyone can try it and it is absolutely FREE!
When we asked them what the impetus was for getting VR technology they said they felt it was the next logical step for them. They launched the Boise Code project at Hackfort last year and with the rising popularity of virtual and augmented realities they felt it was an appropriate next step to take. They already have the technology in place for 3-D printing, computers for Unity training etc so it wasn’t a far leap for them to integrate VR as another offering. The library wants to ensure that they are part of the technology ecosystem in Boise and libraries are a place where people can come to learn at no cost. Libraries help lower the barrier to entry for learning a new skill set or technology and they hope that many people will leverage the new VR technology - it might be students or even mid career adults looking at a possible career change. The library wants to make sure VR is accessible to anyone who wants to try it.
The IVRC was able to assist library staff as they determined what equipment made the most sense for them. They had to troubleshoot a bit with the first computers they bought through their state contracts. They purchased the most powerful ones they could get, but the media card didn’t fit and a few other roadblocks kept them from using those. They landed on HP Omen line of computers (both desktop and a laptop) with the HTC Vive headsets. At the Main Library location they have a room on the 3rd floor that is dedicated to VR, AR and mixed reality. It even has green walls! They are still learning exactly how they’ll best use the room, but when we were there there was a line to try it out.
If you’d like to give the library set ups a test run, they are open at the following four locations: Boise Main Library, Library! at Cole & Ustick, Library! at Collister, and Library! at Hillcrest. They will also have another unit installed in the Bown Crossing branch once that is open this summer. Right now the Boise Main library currently allows patrons to reserve the unit in blocks of two hours and they have VR Wednesdays for drop-in usage from 11 AM to 3 PM and 4 to 8 PM.
The Boise Public Library Foundation was critical to getting VR technology into the library. They 100% funded the project. Initially the idea was to purchase one or two set-ups, but the campaign “$16 for ‘16” was so successful (they exceeded their goal by 27%) they were able to allocate additional funds to two more units. We all need to give the Boise Public Library Foundation a big thank you for bringing this technology to the hands of more people in the Treasure Valley. If you would like to donate to the Boise Public Library Foundation we’ll make it super easy for you. Just go HERE!
Enjoy your new VR access at the library!