“Where do you want to go today: the Great Barrier Reef, the International Space Station, or what about The National Library of Wales?”

Collections - Posted 22-06-2020

The National Library of Wales building has been closed for several weeks, but did you know that you can pay a virtual visit to one of Wales’ leading institutions on your smartphone or tablet?

In 2017 the National Library was invited to work with Google on producing a tour for the Google Expeditions app. This is a resource that teaches children about important places throughout the world by providing virtual tours. This project was an important milestone for the company, since this was the first time that Google Expeditions had produced an expedition in Welsh.

Representatives of Google Arts and Culture held discussions with the Library’s Digital Access unit and Education Service in order to confirm the content of a virtual visit to The National Library of Wales. It was agreed that the expedition should include materials representing the Library’s extensive collections, and which offer a taste of Wales’ history and heritage, as well as showing various spaces within the building.

For users to appreciate the full effect of the virtual visit they need to wear a VR headset, but the experience can also be enjoyed on a smartphone or tablet without a headset. It is possible to look around spaces in the Library – each view is 360º – and by clicking on a POI (Points of Interest), a user can learn more about the organisation, the building or items from the collection.

Each expedition contains facts about the place of interest, and challenges the viewer with relevant questions. To make sure that the resource is suitable for pupils of different ages, the questions ranged between easier ones for younger children and more difficult ones for older children. A teacher has access to the answers, without the pupils being able to see them.

Equipment was brought over from the United States to produce images of the Library’s spaces, and even though the company only filmed for an afternoon, the work of stitching the digital scenes together in California, as well as preparing the text and questions in the Library, took several days.

The resource enables children on the other side of the world to see the The National Library of Wales, but the Education Service has also used the tool to introduce pupils in Wales to the Library and its collections, as seen here in a workshop held at Ysgol Gymunedol Trimsaran.

To visit The National Library of Wales on Google Expeditions, you’ll need to download the Google Expeditions app free of charge from Google Play or App Store. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your device you can search for specific tours by using the app’s search facility. Look for The National Library of Wales for the English version or Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru for the Welsh language tour, and follow the directions.

This post is also available in: Welsh

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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