Research Libraries UK, working with a number of our national and international partners, is re-issuing its major survey, first conducted in May-June 2021, regarding the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Room and Virtual Teaching Space services. The aim is to document the most recent developments and innovations in the area by the RLUK and broader national and international research library communities.

Many collection-holding institutions have been actively exploring new and innovative ways through which digital access can be provided to their collections. This need has been enhanced by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of libraries, archives, and museums to researchers during the height of the pandemic, restricted access during successive periods of national lockdown, and on-going social distancing rules, have significantly disrupted the ability of scholars to conduct research.

In response to these challenges, research libraries, archives and special collections, and museums and galleries have been experimenting with the provision of geographically remote digital access to heritage and cultural collections through the creation of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs).

What do we mean by a Virtual Reading Room or a Virtual Teaching Space?

VRRs and VTSs provide human-mediated remote digital access to collections without digitisation. Through the use of live streaming and visualisers positioned within physical research spaces, scholars, teachers or members of the public can view and digitally engage with an institution’s heritage and cultural collections, asking for these to be positioned and repositioned by a member of staff, to enable their research. These are emerging and bespoke services which provide another means of user-responsive access to collection materials.

This is a video demonstration of a Virtual Reading Room service:

Complete the survey:

This survey asks a series of questions about the development and use of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs) within institutions.

If you or your institution have developed a VRR or VTS service, please complete the more comprehensive version of the survey accessed through the link below.

Link to the FULL survey: Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces (full survey)
Who should complete this survey: Institutions who have already developed a VRR or VTS service
Duration: 20-25 minutes to complete
Survey closes: Monday 10th January 2022

If you or your institution intend to develop a VRR or VTS service but haven’t developed it yet, please complete the slightly shorter version of the survey accessed through the link below.

Link to the SHORT survey: Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces (short version)
Who should complete this survey: Institutions who intend to develop a VRR or VTS service but haven’t yet done so
Duration: 15-20 minutes to complete
Survey closes: Monday 10th January 2022

We welcome submissions from any institution and from around the world. If colleagues wish to consider the survey questions in advance of completion, please find the PDFs of the full survey and the short survey below.

Full survey pdf 

Short survey pdf

Results

The results of this survey will be published by RLUK and made available to the community. It will complement the report ‘New Frontiers of Digital Access: The development and delivery of Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces amongst collection-holding institutions’ published in July 2021 and a series of case studies on the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs).

For further information about this survey and the work of Research Libraries UK in this area, please contact: christina.kamposiori@rluk.ac.uk or matthew.greenhall@rluk.ac.uk