Augmented Reality Gamifies the Library: A Ride Through the Technological Frontier

Augmented Reality Gamifies the Library: A Ride Through the Technological Frontier

Karin L. Heffernan, Shana Chartier
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4742-7.ch011
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Two librarians at a University in New Hampshire attempted to integrate gamification and mobile technologies into the exploration of, and orientation to, the library's services and resources. From augmented reality to virtual escape rooms and finally an in-house app created by undergraduate, campus-based, game design students, the library team learned much about the triumphs and challenges that come with attempting to utilize new technologies to reach users in the 21st century. This chapter is a narrative describing years of various attempts, innovation, and iteration, which have led to the library team being on the verge of introducing an app that could revolutionize campus discovery and engagement.
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The process of introducing students to the library via technological exploration began with a simple request. A faculty member asked for a scavenger hunt of the library, so that their students could learn about the space and its offerings in an engaged and hands-on way. Initially the library instruction team created a paper document with questions students tried to answer by asking support staff at various service points around the building. This was used mostly by classes in the English as a Second Language bridge courses initially, until adjunct faculty began to request a self-guided library introduction tool.

The library team worked on different ways to create a scavenger hunt that was engaging and interesting—one that incorporated technology in some way. As Maura Smale (2012) writes, “some kinds of games, like scavenger hunts or those that require players to solve a mystery, seem to lend themselves well to an orientation context.” It was clear that students were comfortable with the use of cell phones or tablets, and finding ways to integrate that into a scavenger hunt was one of the goals of the initial project. Additionally, the library team gathered information from all learning commons stakeholders to begin the process. The first step of the hunt involved a trip to the information desk, where students were to ask for a particular book on reserve and then collect a bookmark as proof that they had accomplished the task. The next step involved finding a study room and then taking a selfie inside the study room (or outside, if it was in use), thereby introducing a popular pastime, the selfie, into the hunt. After that, students were asked to find Instructional Support, one of the various service points in the library, and access their website to find two software tutorials that might be helpful. The next service point was the reference desk, where they were required to perform a search for “coffee” from the library home page’s multi-search bar and write down two titles of interest. To prove that they had found the reference desk, they were asked to take one of the research bookmarks available there.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Geospatial Data: Information that is tracked using a geographic location, such as coordinates and topology.

Escape Room: Virtual or physical space that acts as a series of puzzles, where the user must solve a number of riddles in order to be released from the space.

Orientation: In the academic library context, this is the experience, program, activity, process or event that familiarizes new users with the library’s resources and services.

Gamification: The implementation of competition and active engagement into what might be an otherwise ordinary experience, thereby adding an element of risk and reward.

Virtual Reality: An entirely immersive digital experience, wherein the user is placed in a seemingly 3-dimensional environment that is not physically present.

Mini Game: A short, 3-5 minute game that can be used inside the context of another, larger game.

APP: Short for “application,” an interface commonly used to play games or utilize digital products.

UI: Short for “user interface,” this is the element of the app that is visually appealing specifically designed to make it easier for the user to engage with the technology.

Augmented Reality: A form of technology that uses triggers to produce digital content over a physical space, integrating a virtual environment with the real world around it.

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