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UVic Ideafest: Modern libraries bridge history

Modern libraries will enable citizens to navigate the digital world by combining access to technology with the old-time ethos of the public library, says a UVic digital scholarship expert.
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Modern libraries will enable citizens to navigate the digital world by combining access to technology with the old-time ethos of the public library, says a UVic digital scholarship expert.

Matt Huculak, digital scholarship librarian at the University of Victoria, said a modern library will offer insights into computers and their functions by offering people access to high-tech equipment.

“It’s a lot like the library of the 20th century, which gave us access when we might not have been able to afford to buy expensive books,” Huculak said.

He will be on hand Saturday for the UVic Ideafest event Welcome to the 21st Century Library.

With offerings as high-tech as virtual-reality viewers and as traditional as old-time books, the event is one of the most family-friendly of this year’s Ideafest offerings.

The Tech Petting Zoo will offer a chance to play with 3D scanners and printers, while DIY computers made possible by companies like Arduino and Raspberry Pi will demonstrate how to build hardware and create the software to make it work.

A retro-computing room will display digital archeology from the 1980s and 1990s. People are invited to bring in old floppy discs so digital forensic experts can recover the old files. There will also be pop-up books, children’s literature and graphic novels, and a chance to make, bind and decorate your own book.

The point, Huculak said, is not to discard the mission of the public library. Instead, modern libraries will offer new possibilities.

Modern virtual-reality viewers, for example, can be powerful tools even for the classics.

UVic professors teaching about ancient Rome and Greece are giving students virtual tours of archeological sites. “They have created 3D virtual versions of the dig that is so lifelike you can go there and get to know the site before you even set foot on an airplane,” Huculak said.

Welcome to the 21st Century Library takes place Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the McPherson Library.

The six-day Ideafest, now in its seventh year, has more than 40 events highlighting new insights, discoveries and research advancements. To learn more, go to uvic.ca/ideafest.

rwatts@timescolonist.com