Greetings and welcome to the VR Preservation Project, a blog tracking work at the University of Oklahoma (OU) Libraries to preserve all aspects of virtual reality (VR) within the context of higher-education research and teaching. In this first post, I would like to give a little background on the project and outline the current areas of research we have identified.

First of all, my official position here at OU Libraries is “CLIR Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Virtual Reality Preservation and Archiving for the Sciences.” This is a two-year fellowship through the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), with funding from the Sloan Foundation. My work involves developing guidelines, specifications and the technologies necessary to support the preservation of digital content and technologies related to VR. As of now, common standards and best practices for the archiving and preservation of VR-related data have not been widely adopted, offering a variety of preservation challenges. This is a problem if OU Libraries is going to be able to support campus-wide research and teaching that is beginning to use these types of emerging technologies.

Over the course of the last six months I have reviewed existing literature, conferred with experts in the field, and carried out on-site testing of software, equipment and workflows, in order to plan how to address the key challenges facing VR preservation. I identified the following major areas of research and related issues that should be studied in order to support VR in a research context:

Preservation of VR Viewing Platform

Hardware preservation and interoperability

Software preservation, emulation and migration

Documenting VR System Configurations for Scholarly Citation & Research Integrity

Documenting user experiences and uses as historical records of VR adoption 

Preservation of VR Content

Assess sustainable 3D file formats and VR system environments

Metadata for recording 3D model creation, use and annotation

Repository structures for archiving 3D models and metadata

Schemas for documenting relationships between 3D content and events within VR environments

 Accessing VR Content

Making VR content discoverable

  •             Descriptive Metadata Schemas
  •             Information Retrieval Systems
  •             Federated Searching Across Multi-institutional Collections

Building VR Collection Platforms for Public Access

Visualization and analysis techniques and tools

 Ethical/Legal Issues

Privacy (of VR users)

Intellectual Property Rights

Security and Access Restrictions for Sensitive Content

In upcoming posts, I will address these research areas in more detail and provide some updates on my progress working to solve some of these thorny problems. Stay tuned!