Katie MacBride, Young Adult Librarian at the Mill Valley Public Library in California, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea YALSA President’s Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for “Building History in 3D” in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.
We wanted to catch up with Katie before she heads to San Francisco for ALA’s Annual Conference.
TW: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl.
KB: The project we’re pitching, called Building History in 3D, centers around technology, history, and community. The project builds off of TimeWalk, a 3D virtual world developed by Ted Barnett, a former volunteer in our Library’s Lucretia Little History Room. Ted has started out by developing an initial virtual model of downtown Mill Valley as it was in 1915. Eventually this virtual world will expand to include renderings of Mill Valley as it was throughout the decades.
Ted introduced his project to our Library and we were eager to help out. Over the last few months, staff and volunteers in our Lucretia Little History Room have been providing research support as TimeWalk’s developers “build” a historically accurate town — creating buildings, steam trains, landscapes, and more. What we want to do through Building History in 3D is invite local teens to be part of the process, offering them the opportunity to learn new technological skills while engaging with the community and learning more about their town and its history.
Through a combination of instruction and workshop time, Building History in 3D will teach 20 young adults 3D modeling skills, allowing them to create buildings within TimeWalk’s virtual reality world. By the end of the semester-long program, teens will have experience using the 3D modeling software SketchUp, experience preparing 3D models for integration into the game platform Unity, and they will have create a 3D model of a Mill Valley building, using historical research as a foundation.
TW: What was your inspiration for this project?
KB: Being so close to Silicon Valley, we find that there is a high demand for tech programs and the Library is always looking for ways to address this need. When Ted came to us for help with his TimeWalk Project, we saw the perfect opportunity. We see kids using 3D now in games like MineCraft and Grand Theft Auto and wanted to engage them in how to learn those skills while at the same time getting involved in Mill Valley history. There are so many wonderful tools that are available, like SketchUp–which is free–that make this project much more accessible to teens.
TW: In what ways are teens involved in the project?
KB: Teens are the backbone of this project and we want to make sure they are included in every step of the process. Before we even begin, we will meet with the teens to establish the criteria, based on their suggestions, of what a “successful” building looks like. What elements should all the buildings have? If they were walking around a video game of Old Mill Valley, what would they want to see? The students will then be able to choose which buildings they create. They’ll be responsible for researching the history of that building and all the details they need to create an accurate 3D representation of it. Teens will then, of course, create the building in SketchUp and place it in the TimeWalk world.
TW: How is your community involved in the project?
KB: This is a very community-driven project. We see it as a 3D Wikipedia. It’s a project about the Mill Valley community and we expect the community to be a very important part of the research, and they are already an important part of Mill Valley’s history. People become more involved in the community when they have an appreciation of the history of where they live. We are incorporating oral histories into the TimeWalk world, and we really expect this to be something that the whole community can get excited about.
TW: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference?
KB: Making sure that the teens are involved in the planning and process of the overall program. We also need to work out specific details about instructors, etc.
TW: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl?
KB: We’re really excited about getting one step closer to making this happen for teens. Right now, it’s just an idea that we have, with a slight framework in place. It will really come alive when teens are involved and the Shark Bowl is one step closer to that goal.
TW: Is there anything else you want to tell us?
KB: It’s very hard to describe how cool TimeWalk is. Please take a look at the short YouTube video to get an idea of how interesting and exciting this project is!