On the Verge of Something Big
by Dick Kaser
Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR)—when we asked authors to submit proposals for this issue on emerging tech, that’s all anybody wanted to write about.
I had my first experience wearing Oculus’ Rift VR headgear at an Internet Librarian workshop in Monterey this past fall—and wow! There I was in the cockpit of a spacecraft, looking out the window at planets and asteroids and such. As a boy, I had wanted to be an astronaut. As an old man, my VR experience was close enough.
In this issue, we explore what these mindboggling technologies mean for libraries and librarians.
- David Green and Michael Groenendyk share their experience in making VR gear available at McGill University’s library. They provide a rundown of the VR and AR equipment that you might consider lending to students or other patrons.
- Ashley Todd-Diaz, Arthur Gutierrez, and Bethanie O’Dell share their knowledge about using AR for outreach and then review the apps libraries can use to engage patrons.
- Barbara A. Wood and David J. Evans share their research on librarians’ perceptions of AI and its potential impact on the profession, finding that all librarians may not get it yet.
- In a thoughtful essay, Ben Johnson walks readers through some of the issues that librarians need to face.
- Felicia A. Smith shares her proposal to justify a VR instructional program at Stanford.
- Jessamyn West reflects on the state-of-the-art of AI.
With this issue of Computers in Libraries, we welcome readers of Internet@Schools, a magazine that we and previous owners have published separately under various names for 24 years. As public and school libraries come closer together—and all libraries become more and more interested in educational technology—it makes sense for this merger to take place at this time. Going forward, we will feature an ed-tech topic in each issue, starting with a feature in this issue on the award-winning young learners makerspace at Muncie Public Library.
Happy New Year!
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor