Virtual Reality in Libraries Explored in New MLIS Course


A new elective is being offered in the Master of Library and Information Science program for fall 2022. INFO 287-19, Feel the Learn: The Library Advancing Virtual Reality, is a course available to students enrolled in the MLIS Special Session at San José State University School of Information. The prerequisite for the course is the completion of INFO 200 and INFO 203. This new three-unit course will discuss the past and future use of virtual reality (VR) technology in libraries.

Tammy Westergard, the instructor of the course, currently leads a “workforce development project with virtual reality assets at the center.” This allows workers to earn certificates and grants them career mobility. Westergard views libraries as a place to bridge the digital divide and to develop digital literacy skills, especially with new technologies like VR. “As libraries kind of step into that space, I think that’s going to create at least some sense of an opportunity to understand what skills you need to continue to sharpen as an individual.”

Students taking INFO 287-19 will benefit from learning the “best practices from across the country of a variety of libraries, museums and education early adopters,” according to Westergard. These include exploring and experimenting with 3D tools and software, as well as developing programs that support immersive learning and are accessible. Westergard states that this course will “expand awareness, attitudes, beliefs about libraries and their use of emerging technology to affirm our central role in the advancement of new technologies.”

Virtual reality room

Dr. Anthony Chow, director of the SJSU School of Information, requested this course be developed to further studies in VR. Chow views virtual and augmented reality as a “component of digital literacy that all children and members of our communities should have access to and be aware of and, as usual, LIS professionals must lead the way.” The School of Information has already begun investing in VR, with several VR rooms currently in development.  

Registration information for the fall 2022 semester can be found on the Registration and Enrollment web page.