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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:42am

Brown haired woman in check shirt has hands outstretched while using a virtual reality headset

A visit to the international space station, kayaking with penguins in Antarctica, or a tour of the Anne Frank house, have all become reality at Selwyn Libraries.

The libraries are showcasing new virtual reality experiences with drop-in sessions for people to try their new virtual reality headsets.

Selwyn Libraries’ Digital Futures Coordinator Mark Lawrence says the virtual reality experience is about learning, and a lot of fun. “It’s something we have been planning for a long time. It’s to do with different learning styles and wellbeing, giving people a bit of fun. People come into libraries, but books might not be how they learn. Sometimes when they’re in an experience, it’s a different world, it’s a new way of learning and we’re all about life-long learning.”

Virtual reality has benefits for people who are not neuro-typical and require different sensory experiences to suit their learning style, which makes the libraries more accessible for all, Mark says.

The first drop-in session at Lincoln Library last week showed the experiences had a wow factor for everyone, he says. “It’s difficult to describe—you have got to try it. When people are in an experience we cast what they’re experiencing to a big screen so everyone can see what’s going on. Everyone who sees it is blown away and asks to have a go.”

The experiences will change from time to time during the year as libraries staff see new options or people recommend them, he says, but those available this term include an energetic beat-saber experience where people select music, and smash boxes and dodge obstacles to the beat, a 3D painting experience and swimming with manatees, among others.

Sessions are available at each library and are regularly taken to communities with the Libraries’ Edge Connector Vehicle. The drop-in sessions will be happening during school term time at:

  • Lincoln Library – Thursdays, 3.30–5.30pm
  • Rolleston Library – Mondays 3.30–5.30pm
  • Leeston Library – Wednesdays 2–4pm
  • Darfield Library – Thursdays 3.30–5.30pm