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A Virtual Tour of the SNU Central Library

Mar 31, 2021

The SNU Central Library boasts the largest collection of books and scope of facilities among university libraries in Korea. And while recent circumstances have precluded in-person tours, the VR tour service implemented last December has given many the freedom to explore the library digitally.

The SNU Central library VR Tour
The SNU Central library VR Tour

Meeting the Central Library Online

The VR tour service launched on December 1, 2020. The VR tour allows users to explore the library and its surroundings. The service can be accessed through the SNU Library homepage, under the “VR Tour” tab. It is also available on the sixth floor of the Kwanjeong hall, as a part of the VR experience zone. The VR tour was developed to accommodate the difficulty that people faced in being unable to visit the library during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Museum of Korea and other institutions abroad have also developed their own VR tours. VR tours have been increasing in popularity, as a way for users to explore an institution's facilities regardless of place and time. The VR tour was designed by Lee Yoon Gyung, a member of the SNU Library multimedia lab. The intention was to “capture the vibrancy of the library during a time when social distancing increased the need for online services.”

Antique Books from their Contours to their Stains

The VR tour is a way for users to admire a panoramic view of the library and explore its various facilities. As soon as one enters the VR tour, a scene of the university and the library, outlined against a clear blue sky, unfolds. A few clicks are all it takes for the user to travel from the library lounge to the sunlit Kwanjeong reading room. Even areas restricted to students, such as the faculty lounge and ancient literature reference room, can be viewed in detail as a part of the tour. And despite being a virtual experience, the tour captures every last detail of antique books – from the contour of each book, down to its stains. It feels as if one is actually walking through the halls of the ancient literature reference room, thumbing through the pages of each book. Yoo Jin Hee of the library multimedia lab remarked that “the library features a comfortable reading room, a recording studio, a VR experience zone, and various other multimedia services. My hope is that students are acquainted with these services through the VR Tour, and can use them freely once the pandemic passes.”

A System Designed for the Convenience of the User

The VR tour was designed so that users may easily understand the structure of the library as well as the services that it provides. Audio recordings introduce the borrowing and return service for library books, the rental service for tablet PCs, the interlibrary loan service, and many other frequently used services. Video clips are available for more detailed explanations of the usage of specific facilities. Explanations are also provided in English, so that non-Korean speakers may enjoy the VR Tour as well. The VR Tour displays arrows which allow users to freely move within their screens. A floor map and guide help further facilitate unconstrained navigation of the library.

The VR tour has become an invaluable resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a unique experience for users who wish to learn more about the SNU Library and its various facilities and services.

Original Source:
Written by Min Seo Ki, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,