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New Zealand’s Libraries get Tech Boosts

Virtual reality games are coming to Blenheim and Picton’s libraries, alongside 3D printers and tech kits such as e-Readers and robot kits, as part of a technology revamp, as per news reports. New Zealand libraries were handed more than USD 40 million in last year’s COVID-19 budget to keep librarians at work and open specialist library services for schools and young people.

Now, the Marlborough District Council received part of that budget and used some of the funds to purchase six Quest 2 headsets – the latest in virtual reality technology. Virtual reality, also known as VR, is an interactive computer-generated experience that creates environments like, or not possible, in the real world.

The district libraries manager said that the council planned to launch its new virtual reality sets this year. They believe it will add a whole new dimension to their learning programmes at the library. It provides a much-enhanced sense of reality than any other technology in use. It reduces the difference between what is digitally generated, and what is real in the physical world.

The VR sets are capable of loading thousands of games and experiences, but the council would load just a small number at a time, starting with about 10 apps. The council is still considering what apps to include. It had also yet to develop policies around how often the devices would be available to the public and for how long.

However, the district library manager said the VR sets would be free to use.

Each library would have three virtual reality headsets. Both libraries would also receive a printer capable of printing materials such as corn starch, tapioca roots or sugarcane on top of one another to create any 3D shape. Customers would be able to use the machines to print durable and biodegradable objects for 20 cents a gram – but not without the library staff first checking the design.

Users over the age of 16-years-old could also borrow out tech kits ranging from robotic maker kits to tabletop drum sets from the start of June for two weeks, for free.  A report to councillors at a meeting last month said the tech kits would let library users discover and explore their digital, technological and creative interests.

People would be able to borrow one tech kit at a time.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way work is being done in the world today. While changes and adjustments were being done before COVID-19, the pandemic has not only accelerated these strategies but has also force entirely new models of organisational capacities.

New Zealand launched its Digital Tech Industry Transformation Plan for Ministerial very early on in 2019. The new approach to industry policy was aimed at growing more innovative industries in New Zealand and lifting the productivity of key sectors. While the country has a strong economic foundation, but its productivity has continued to fall behind its main competitors.

To take advantage of the opportunities of the technological revolution the government has announced Industry Transformation Plans will be developed for key sectors. Industry Transformation Plans will be sector-led and government-supported. They will involve a partnership between government, business, workers and Māori.

Each will be unique to its industry but will build on any existing work to describe an agreed vision for the future state of the sector and outline the actions required to realise this vision, including investment, innovation and skills development. This progress update on the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan shows some very positive developments.

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