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Augmented Reality: enhancing the level of engagement with oral histories through the use of technology - a guest blog post

A guest blog by Kerrie Shaw

One of the objectives of Tamworth Library’s Goonoo Goonoo Station Oral History Project was to be able to use portions of the interviews for an audio tour of the site. Snippets of the interviews with former residents of the station’s village could be used to engage with visitors and give them a view into life on the station in the 1960s. With new developments in technology this goal can be expanded to include methods which will engage the listener on many different levels. The more engaged and interested people are, the more likely they are to listen to the whole interview and/or more interviews.

Young generations nowadays don’t visit museums as often as older generations. It isn’t that the history, culture or art isn’t relevant to millennials but rather museum-going experiences don’t match their lifestyles and expectations

People in today’s society expect a higher level of engagement with their surroundings. By using sounds, images and technology to engage the audience, we can bring stories to life. We can develop a deeper level of engagement with the audience than if they were just listening to an oral history recording.  These techniques are being used in large exhibitions, art galleries and tourist locations with impressive results and excellent feedback from users. If we use technology to interest and engage the audience with oral histories then the recordings can become an even more valued and more frequently accessed resource.

Geo location is already being used to trigger sound recordings on walking tours or sound trails. QR codes are being used to link to oral histories that are particular to place. This use of technology creates experiences that are engaging and interesting and there is currently the potential to take this engagement one step further. It is possible to bring the past to life in front of the listener via their mobile device.

I have used a free augmented reality App called Aurasma to create an example of what can be done with oral histories to produce a deeper level of engagement. To augment is to add something; be it pictures, a movie, an audio recording or even animation. I have, in this example, added video footage to augment an oral history.

A video of the daily tasks being spoken about in the recording brings new depth and connects the listener on a new level to keep them engaged for the full 1:20 minutes of the clip. The simple, everyday tasks of cooking and preparing packed lunches can become interesting as we watch ‘her’ actually carrying out the tasks.

Using the App and the augmented reality places another layer over an oral history. This will bring the oral histories out of the archives and catalogues and onto the devices that everyone carries with them, bring them to life;

‘Yes, there is an App for that!’

Augmented reality instructions for Central Northern Regional Library

Side one postcard showing Augmented Reality instructions.


Side 2 of postcard from Central Northern Libraries

Side 2 of postcard from Central Northern Libraries


Kerrie Shaw

Technology & Local Studies Officer 

Central Northern Regional Library