Davenport Public Library to introduce virtual reality technology thanks to support from the Community Foundation
Patrons to the Davenport Public Library will soon have the chance to dissect a human heart, sculpt a vase or untangle electric wires thanks to virtual reality technology. The Quad Cities Community Foundation awarded a $15,000 nonprofit capacity grant to FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library in November, which will fund three flat-panel computers and virtual reality software.
“This is how information is being provided to people now,” said Library Director Amy Groskopf. “This is the next big thing. We are glad to be able to offer it to the community.”
Users of the technology will check out glasses and a stylus, which can be used to “pick up” the image off the screen and manipulate it. “It’s interactive learning,” Groskopf said.
Tracy Moore, development officer for the library, said the community has had an increasing number of families moving into the area and they are looking for technology in their library. “What people want is constantly changing,” she said. “This virtual reality technology is a great thing to have—it’s more than games. It offers something new and cutting-edge downtown and it boosts awareness of the library at the same time.”
One of the most exciting aspects of the technology is that it fosters collaborative learning, Groskopf noted. The virtual reality systems will be offered in a space of the library where patrons can use them on a “walk-in” basis. The Creative Arts Academy is also anticipating use of the new technology in their curriculum. “We are also hoping to make it available to homeschoolers and groups,” Groskopf said, adding that groups will be able to check out multiple stations. A parent could also work on one of the stations with a child.
Moore said the staff will train on the technology before it is available to patrons, which could be as soon as early spring. She was recently able to try out the equipment when the company supplying the virtual reality systems visited the library earlier this year.
Offering technology like virtual reality is important to libraries who wish to engage young people in new ways. “Students in K-12 have some opportunities to be exposed to things like this already,” Moore said. “But for the rest of us, it’s important to have technology for everyone and anyone. It’s a great study tool and it is part of what we do as a library—continuing education and learning.”
Having support from the Community Foundation is meaningful, she added. “It really does let us do some of these special things that are not within the regular library budget.”
Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants are made from the Community Impact Fund, a permanent endowment at the Community Foundation that enables the Community Foundation to respond to high-priority needs quickly. The foundation awarded more than $100,000 to 10 local organizations to help them build their capacity in November.