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Magazines > Information Today > May 2024

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Information Today
Vol. 41 No. 4 — May 2024
Learning in a Digital Scholarship Lab

by Sophia Guevara


Digital Scholarship Lab

Igloo Vision

“A Better Super Bowl—NFL Hyundai Super Bowl LI”

360 Room


Anatomage Table

Anatomage: Introduction to Anatomage at MSU Libraries
When I saw an ad for an open VR lab being hosted by Michigan State University (MSU) Libraries, I knew I had to make the trip to Lansing to learn more. The Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), located in the Main Library, was created in partnership with MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. I got to interview a member of the DSL team: Justin Wadland, head of digital scholarship services and DSL lead. He started in this position in April 2023.


Wadland shared that when the DSL was in the planning stage, library staffers visited a number of universities that had similar services. From these experiences, they found that many of the technologies had a high barrier to use and were meant for specialized activities. One vendor that stood out as having potential for MSU was Igloo Vision, which is a “shared immersive space company” that facilitates digital content displays that can be experienced by groups of people at one time. Stepping into an Igloo Vision room “is a bit like stepping into a giant virtual reality headset,” the company explains. Paul Cooper, transformative technology coordinator for the DSL, had spotted a Super Bowl commercial that showed soldiers talking with their families in one of these rooms. It wouldn’t take much training to use this technology, so Wadland said the library started with 360-degree cameras from Igloo Vision and added them to the DSL’s immersive space room.

I briefly got to experience the Igloo Vision-enabled DSL 360 Room, which holds up to 20 people. One of the DSL’s most common uses is putting up Google Street View to virtually visit places. When I was there, I learned that students would be virtually visiting Kenya for their lessons in ethnography later that week. Students can also make their own visualizations for the room. The space has been used to deliver digital poster sessions, and design classes have used the technology to pull up their renderings. Faculty members can come in and see what is possible and then work to develop activities and lesson plans incorporating the technology. Wadland says that the DSL is aiming to be the place where you find your way around data management, digital scholarship, and immersive visualization.

The DSL also has Meta Quest 1 and 2 headsets that are lent out to faculty members after a consultation about how they are interested in incorporating the technology into a class. The DSL is looking to expand this program, but it does come with some logistical challenges. The headsets require a Meta account to use, but the DSL plans to experiment with ArborXR, which remotely manages AR and VR devices, so that users can access apps without having to sign up with Meta.


During my visit, I also saw the DSL’s Anatomage Table, which its website calls “the most technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization system for anatomy and physiology education,” with five virtual “full-body human cadavers [that] are available for volumetric dissection.” MSU Libraries’ libguide on the Anatomage Table explains, “Users can visualize anatomy exactly as they would on a fresh cadaver. … Individual structures are reconstructed in accurate 3D, resulting in an unprecedented level of real accurate anatomy, dissectible in 3D.” Wadland says that Jessica Sender, who is the DSL’s health sciences librarian and has a background in educational technology, has been guiding instructors in the adoption of this technology in classes and assignments. Instructors can interact with the table and then create the visuals they need to present to the class. The instructor can use an HDMI connection to get the image to come up on their classroom screen. Students are then given assignments that allow for interaction with the high-resolution anatomy files.


So, how could you introduce something similar at your own library? Wadland says it is best to think about the technologies in relation to others: It’s not just about having the technology to experience the media, but also to create the media. The DSL benefits from having its immersive technologies adjacent to a computer classroom that has machines with the processing power to create materials for the 360 Room and VR headsets. This approach could be replicated on a smaller scale to fit your library’s budget.

One thing to avoid is thinking, “If you build it, they will come.” You can have great technology, but it has to be in support of the pedagogical and research goals of the academic community that you are serving. Training programs and workshops help. Be intentional about staffing and partnerships, since these people create the pathways for the user community to incorporate the technology. For the DSL, there are four full-time library staffers, nine student employees, and five affiliate faculty members from the College of Arts & Letters. These teams of staffers and partners support the day-to-day operations of the DSL and provide consultations, trainings, and workshops that engage the community.

Sophia GuevaraSophia Guevara received both her M.L.I.S. and master of public administration degrees from Wayne State University. She has also been published in Computers in Libraries, Online Searcher, and Information Outlook. Send your comments about this article to