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St. Louis County Library to offer virtual-reality programs

Kara Smith | St. Louis County
A new virtual-reality program through the St. Louis County Library will give residents the chance to explore a variety of places.

St. Louis County Library members will have a chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at volcanoes, under the ocean and even outer space.

The library district is now offering free virtual-reality programs starting this fall using high-tech headsets and the virtual-reality teaching tool Google Expeditions.

Kristen Sorth, the director of the St. Louis County Library District, said the program opens the mind to possibilities, especially for kids.

“Sometimes our worlds can be pretty small, and I think having the opportunity to explore a place that we may never get to go,” Sorth said. "Maybe that child may be interested in going to a place that they never thought possible because of something that they saw during the Google Expedition program.”

Library staff will act as their tour guides through the 360-degree experience. Each virtual adventure will accommodate roughly 15 people. Sorth said the program has a nostalgic feel that makes the user feel like they’re there.

“It’s like View-Master, but cooler, because you have a 360 view of what you’re looking at, including 3D images."

The budget for the program was roughly $13,000. Sorth said the library hopes to add more virtual-reality programs in the future.

Registration is required for all ages.

The program starts on Sept. 4 at select branches including Eureka Hills, Bridgeton Trails, Prairie Commons, Jamestown Bluffs, Cliff Cave, Natural Bridge, Rock Road, Florissant Valley, Headquarters, Grant’s View, Daniel Boone, Indian Trails and Weber Road.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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