Virtual reality learning environments: Development of multi-user reference support experiences

Jim F. Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a case study on virtual reality (VR) learning environments, focused on the development and integration of multi-user reference support. Design/methodology/approach: This paper used a case study methodology to understand applied software development incorporating textual browsing experiences within the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. An open corpus of text from the HathiTrust Digital Library accessed via the API was used as a data source. Findings: In collaboration with students from a senior undergraduate Computer Science project course, the project team developed software to pilot a multi-user VR experience, with functionality for users to search, discover and select e-books and other digitized content from the HathiTrust digital library. Originality/value: Overall, the system has been developed as a prototype e-book experiment to model several VR affordances for browsing, user support and educational endeavors within libraries. Within the VR reading room pilot, users are able collaboratively explore digital collections. Aspects of reference librarian user support were modeled in the VR system including communication in real-time using chat features and text highlighting and manipulation tools that are unique to learning in VR environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-661
Number of pages10
JournalInformation and Learning Science
Issue number11
Early online dateSep 28 2018
StatePublished - Nov 12 2018


  • Computer science
  • Software development
  • Undergraduate students
  • Unity 3D
  • Virtual reality
  • WebVR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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  • Virtual Reality Library Environments

    Hahn, J., May 15 2017, Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries: Innovative Services for Research and Learning. Chicago, Illinois: American Library Association, p. 237-248

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access

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