Library

Virtual Reality Comes to County Library

VR1

“Ohhhh!”

“Amazing!”

“Whoa!”

Library customers couldn’t help but exclaim out loud as they experienced the new virtual reality programs at the Alpine Library. The system was available for the first time on Tuesday, and a number of people wanted to check it out.

“It was the first time I tried it,” said Eric Meiners. “It gives you a feeling of immersion. You definitely feel like you’re there.”

Meiners, a web developer, says you definitely should experience it.

Debbie Van Hyfte wasn’t shy. The retiree had seen it on TV and was curious about it.

“I always like to be exposed to new things,” said Van Hyfte.

With the Oculus Virtual Reality headset on and her hands gripping the controls, she was off and exploring a new 3-D world. She twisted her head this way and that, and turned her chair left and right to see everything she could.

VR2“I thought it was very cool,” said Van Hyfte.

So what is it exactly?

Virtual reality refers to a computer-generated space you experience and interact with by using special gear. They could be places in the real world or imaginary ones.

Two kinds of equipment are required: a game computer that runs the system and an Oculus Virtual Reality headset. The user gets two controllers, one for each hand, and sensors next to the equipment know where you are spatially located. Ten programs are currently available, ranging from topics like nature, travel and a tour of the White House to Google Earth maps where you feel like you’re floating above the ground. Yet another allows you to explore in space.

“I was skeptical at first, but when I put it on (the headset), it was pretty fun,” said County Library Adult Services Manager Marc Webb. “I was taken by how immersive it was.”

Webb says the Vista Library also offers a chance to try out the Virtual Reality system every week and the County Library hopes to expand the program to other branches.

The Virtual Reality Experience Project came to the Vista and Alpine branches thanks to a grant that is run through the California State Library and partially funded by Facebook and Oculus. The County Library provides trained staff and facilities to offer the programming. Currently the program is available to those over 18 years old.

“Some patrons are real excited about it, they come back on a regular basis,” said Webb.

For more information on when the Alpine and Vista libraries offer the program, visit the County Library’s events calendar. For other information about the County Library overall, visit www.sdcl.org.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact