Sacramento Library Offers Gaming, Virtual Reality Programs Thanks to Greater Broadband Capacity
About 80% of public library jurisdictions in California now have high-speed Internet access as a result of connecting to CENIC’s California Research and Education Network (CalREN). In 2017, the California State Library created the Libraries Illuminated grant program to help libraries create more sophisticated programs and services for their communities. The funding supports the purchase of cutting-edge hardware and software that enables libraries to maximize the greater broadband connectivity. As one of 38 grant recipients, the Sacramento Public Library has become a leader in developing richer online interactive programs for all ages.
Since connecting to CalREN, Sacramento public libraries have enjoyed high-speed Internet access of 10 Gbps at the main library and 1 Gbps at the 22 branches, with the remaining 6 onboarding in 2018/2019. Now that bandwidth is no longer a barrier for advanced programs and services, the library is encouraging active access and content creation by its patrons. This high-capacity connectivity combined with Libraries Illuminated funding has enabled the Sacramento Public Library to leverage Twitch, a leading social live-streaming platform, to create collaborative online learning experiences.
Assistant Director of Infrastructure at the Sacramento Public Library Jarrid Keller shared, “By combining Twitch with designed-to-be-streamed programming, we aim both to promote new and existing library services and collections, and to enable patrons to develop valuable skills in video production, streaming, and marketing. Because bandwidth is no longer a limitation, we can design programs for both virtual and physical audiences.”
Programs in development at the Sacramento Public Library include:
Minecraft Sacramento: Teen volunteers are using Minecraft under the guidance of librarians to virtually re-create three sites in Sacramento from the early 20th century. Once they complete these virtual sites, they will add links to historic documents, photos, and videos at the Sacramento Public Library to bring history alive. Staff and volunteers can then give patrons virtual tours of the sites, further engaging the community and demonstrating a unique intersection of technology and historical preservation.
Introduction to Virtual Reality: Visitors can use a virtual reality phone booth to make video calls, while actors can use the technology cave to create interactive scenes for viewers.
Boardless Games: Board game players and designers use live streaming to discuss strategy and play tabletop games. Presenters and the public can communicate, learn, and interact together using the Twitch platform.
Gamers Book Club: In this book club focusing on gaming, librarians discuss books and authors, while audiences can join the conversation and ask questions remotely.
Makerspace and 3D Printing: Various locations now offers 3D printing. Two free printing sessions are available each week on a first-come, first-served basis. Online submissions are accepted, and the library website suggests several design sites for users.
These programs demonstrate the new online routes of discovery, interaction, and learning afforded to libraries by high-speed connectivity and funding for hardware and software. As a partner with California public libraries, CENIC aims to continue expanding broader and better Internet access across California and beyond.