Augmented Reality in a school library – Part 5.

So far I have covered ways in which emerging technologies such as AR can be incorporated into the classroom.  This next section is about this technology can be used in school libraries as part of resource management, pedagogical practices and collaborative learning.


School libraries and teacher librarians play a pivotal role in technology access.  School libraries have long been known for providing equitable access for information (ALIA, 2014).  The digital revolution has changed the primary purpose of libraries from information repositories to being gateways to knowledge.  This is because a library collection is no longer limited to print texts but now extends to including ebooks, digital resources,online databases and emerging technologies.  Consequently, by extending this access to emerging technologies like AR and VR, school libraries are building the value of their resources and concurrently, reducing the impact of the digital divide on their students (DIIS, 2016).  There are several ways in which a library can introduce emerging technologies such as AR to their patrons.  These include:


  1. AR EMBEDDED TEXTS – These resources are also the most cost efficient method of introducing AR technology to students,  as it enables them to experience the technology but without the associated costs of setting up hardware and software (Brigham, 2017; Foote, 2018).  Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2018, p. 526) cite clearly there is an increased student understanding when multimodal resources such as AR embedded information texts are used when compared to traditional texts. The reason why AR technology has increased efficacy in informational resources is that haptic feedback is non verbal and students focus on that as the primary source of information and the text provides the support (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2018).  This method is currently in place in most schools and academic libraries and some libraries offer a smart device loan scheme as well to assist with AR resources for offsite learning.
  2. MAKERSPACES – Makerspaces convert students from users of content to creators of knowledge as they allow students to pursue individual projects in and out of class time,  as well as facilitate independent and cross disciplinary learning (Slatter & Howard, 2013).  Many libraries have designated makerspace areas to facilitate creativity and critical learning and free play.  Pope (2018a) points out that free play should be encouraged as it allows users of all ages to learn through experimentation, even if the original point was educational or recreational in purpose.  These areas also allow teachers to experiment with new technology for their own personal benefit or to embed into their teaching practice (Slatter & Howard, 2013).
  3. AR INSTALLATIONS – An extension of makerspaces are AR installations.  These areas, known as sandbox programming, are permanently devoted to experimentation, exploration and demonstrations of AR/VR technology  (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Some examples of AR installations are TinkerLamp and zSpace. TinkerLamp was the forerunner of AR technology and required a screen, a projector, experimentation board and an interferometer (Furio et al., 2017, p.3).  Whereas the more modern zSpace consists of a computer, stylus and specialised glasses (Foote, 2018).                                                                                                                 Foote (2018) correctly points out that it is not cost effective to implement AR technology into every classroom, and that AR elements are best served through shared spaces such as the library.  But even then, these installations are not common in schools as Merge cubes, as they are very expensive and the latter is cheaper and more flexible for group use (Pope, 2018a).  
  4. LIBRARY OUTREACH AND MARKETING – Library tours, displays and other promotional programs have an immense capability for AR.  AR embedded posters and displays are an innovative method to engage students, and can convey useful information about seasonal events, special collection, library skills and services (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  It is also possible to gamify library maps with embedded GPS tagging as a method of incentivising students to explore the various library spaces and facilities (Balci, 2017; Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Besides being innovative, the use of mobile applications facilitates the collection of user data.  Library staff are able to analyse this data and use it to appraise student engagement, as well as illustrate the library’s effectiveness in adapting to advancements in technology (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017). 
  5. INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR –  There is scope for libraries to implement AR as part of their learning management system, the delivery of information and the provision of data (Zak, 2014).  The modern student has a preference for technology based practices and this extends to information seeking (Wolz, 2019). Zak (2014) suggests that by using emerging technologies as part of information seeking, libraries are speaking the same language as their clientele.



Australian Library and Information Association. (2014). Future of the Library and Information Science Profession. ALIA Futures. Retrieved from

Balci, L. (2017). Using augmented reality to engage students in the library. Information Today Europe [Blog]. Retrieved from

Brigham, T. (2017). Reality check: Basics of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality. Medical Reference Services Quarterly (36) 2. Pp 171-178. DOI: 10.1080/02763869.2017.1293987

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved from

Foote, C. (2018).  Is it real or is it VR? Exploring AR and VR tools. Computers in Libraries. Retrieved from

Furio, D., Fleck, S., Bousquet, B., Guillet, JP., Canioni, L., & Hachet, M. (2017). HOBIT: Hybrid optical bench for innovative teaching. CHI’17 – Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from

Magana, A., Serrano, M., & Rebello, N. (2018). A sequenced multimodal learning approach to support students’ development of conceptual learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35 (4). DOI

Pope, H. (2018a). Virtual and augmented reality in libraries. Library Technology Reports – American Library Association, (54)6.

Slatter, D., & Howard, D. (2013). A place ot make, hack and learn: makerspaces in Australian public libraries. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 62(4), pp.272-284. Retrieved from

Townsdin, S., & Whitmer, W. (2017). Technology. Public Services Quarterly. 13. Pp190-199. DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2017.1338541

Wolz, K. (2019). Building faculty competence and self efficacy for using ZSpace virtual reality (VR) software in the classroom. All Regis University Theses. Retrieved from

Zak, E. (2014). Do you believe in magic? Exploring the conceptualisation of augmented reality and its implication for the user in the field of library and information science.  Information Technology and Libraries.

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