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by Tom Freeman
07 November 2014
Libraries could host local heritage ‘game’

Libraries could host local heritage ‘game’

Libraries may be able to use computer games technology to boost community heritage projects, according to researchers at Robert Gordon University (RGU).
The university has launched the Bring Your Own Heritage project, which will examine ways libraries can enhance local heritage records by incorporating local knowledge about historic sites with advanced digital scans of the area rendered in a computer 3D game engine.
Dr Elizabeth Tait, principal investigator and course leader of the MSc Digital Curation course at RGU, said: “We have seen libraries adapting in recent years as a response to the changing information environment.”
The research team will be testing the idea in Elgin over the next few months, and have invited residents to feed into the project and assist with scanning their town.
The scan data will be combined with other scans of Elgin and rendered into an interactive ‘townscape’. Local people will be able to engage with the technology at Elgin library, as well as share stories and memories, integrate photos taken on their own mobile devices and older photographs of the area.
Richard Laing, co-investigator and Professor of Built Environment Visualisation at RGU, said: “Developments in digital technologies present new opportunities for libraries to build on traditional activities such as the curation of local studies, collections and cultural heritage.
“While laser scanning and gaming technologies may seem very advanced for use by public libraries, the cost and skill level required is reducing and future developments in augmented and virtual reality are likely to increase the accessibility of these initiatives further.”
The findings will be disseminated in a one-day knowledge-sharing workshop involving around 25 practitioners and academics from the wider library and information science community.
There have been concerns over the sustainability of public libraries in Scotland over the last couple of years, with Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders showing the sharpest decline in visits. Scots are being encouraged to declare their true feelings for their favourite library by penning a love letter describing why they would be lost without it for Book Week Scotland at the end of the month.

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