teen girl

Frequently Asked Questions

Teen Participation

What can we do to ensure teen participation throughout?

Our pilot programs had excellent retention rates with 75% of teens still participating at the final session. Also very encouraging to us was to see the teens’ enthusiasm for the 3-hour design sprints. We anticipated some teens would not engage in a 3-hour design sprint. However, teen co-designers participated fully in those 3-hour sessions. This enthusiasm and ongoing participation stem from the work we did to build relationships with the teens, our focus on youth agency, and keeping the momentum going through every other week sessions and ongoing Discord-based communications.

Skills Needed

Does the library staff facilitating the VRtality program need to be VR experts?

Expertise in VR is not required. Prior to the start of the program. and each co-design session, library staff will want to test out the VR tools that will be used in order to have a basic understanding. However, library staff can learn many aspects of VR alongside teen co-designers as long as staff bring to those sessions an openness to trying new things, curiosity, and a willingness to take risks.

Does the library staff facilitating the VRtality program need to have expertise in co-design?

Prior to launching a VRtality program, library staff will need to understand the ideas inherent in co-design activities. Co-design facilitation requires flexibility in facilitation along with the ability to empower co-designers (in this instance teens) to have agency over the co-design process. Library staff starting out in co-design may want to work with a co-facilitator and discuss with others the co-design process and what makes it different from more traditional facilitation techniques.

What teen-related skills do we need to facilitate this program?

Library staff working on the VRtality program must have an openness to letting teens truly take the lead. Staff need to build relationships with teens and be open to difficult conversations about mental health.

Do we need to have a mental health expert on our VRtality team?

A mental health expert is not required. However, as mentioned above, library staff must be comfortable talking about various aspects of mental health and understand that library mental health services include giving teens the chance to de-stress and talk with each other about how they are feeling

Planning and Facilitating Sessions

How much time is needed to plan for each session?

One to two hours on average are required to plan each VRtality session. This planning includes designing a co-design session agenda and developing resources, such as Miro Boards, to use during the session.

How much time is needed to debrief after each session?

The co-facilitators and participating project team should schedule approximately 15 minutes following each co-design session to reflect on how the session went, changes they would make in the future, and next steps.

Should I be ready to change a session plan if things are not going as expected?

Yes, a co-design experience should be founded on flexibility. If you realize that the process isn’t going as planned, use that as a learning opportunity and a chance to talk with the co-designers about making changes in order to move forward more successfully.

Do we need to have community partnerships in place?

It is important to have partnerships in place prior to the launch of the program. These partnerships may include colleges and universities, whose students can assist in the development of the VR experience, and/or technologists in the community who have expertise to offer. If the partnerships are not in place, library staff will want to add time to their planning process to build those relationships.


What is the typical duration for a program like VRtality

A VRtality program spans between four and six months.

What do I need to think about as I schedule a VRtality program?

As you begin to plan and schedule a VRtality program you will want to consider all of the people involved including library staff, outside technology experts and developers, and teens. Consider teen schedules as well as those of college students, if you are working with interns who attend an academic institution.

How frequently should sessions be scheduled?

We suggest hosting sessions every other week in order to keep momentum while allowing for project team planning time between sessions.

How long should each session last?

We suggest 90-minutes for each co-design session and 3-hours for each design sprint

Can I add more sessions than outlined in the materials presented on this site?

Absolutely. The goal is for the VRtality program is to serve as a guide from which libraries are inspired to customize and extend, meeting the needs of the teens in their local communities and neighborhoods. We established a framework which your library can replicate with content relevant to your teen population.

Can we offer VRtality more than once?

The VRtality mission is, through co-design, to help teens build positive mental health while also de-stigmatizing mental health. Iterations of VRtality might include new groups of teen co-designers, might leverage technologies other than VR, or might give teens who already participated in the program the chance to act as co-facilitators.

Keep in mind that as your library continues to facilitate the VRtality program, costs for resources, including technology and human resources, are likely to decrease.


How much did the pilot VRtality program cost?

The pilot initiative was funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and VRtality program materials are provided, via this website, free of charge to co-designers.

What costs should my library plan for?

Libraries need to consider human resources – staff and the potential of paid positions for VR developers and interns. It is also possible that library staff may want to have funds available to pay teens a stipend for their participation.

Libraries need to have enough VR headsets for all teen participants and facilitators and may also need to supply loaner devices (such as Chromebooks) so teens can participate in Zoom calls, etc. if the program is facilitated remotely.

Paid software is also required for the smooth running of this program. For more details, on hardware and software see the Selecting the Technology page.

Will costs remain the same each time we repeat the program?

As your library continues to offer multiple rounds of the program, costs are likely to decrease as hardware and software will already be on hand and time for planning each session may diminish.


Do you offer technical support for VR headsets, tablets or other hardware or software?

No. Please seek support from the relevant hardware manufacturer or software provider, from your in-house IT support, and/or colleagues.

What technology do I need?

You will find a list of all of the technology needed for a VRtality program in the Technology section of this site.


How do I get buy-in from library management?

As you begin to think about and plan for the VRtality program, you will want to start talking with colleagues and library leadership about the positive impact of the program. Tie impact related to mental health, digital literacy, and 21st century workforce development skills to the library’s mission, values, vision, and strategic plan. The Resources section of this site links to materials that will prove useful as you plan your conversations with colleagues and administrators.

Is someone from VRtality available to speak at conferences and other events?

Members of the VRtality team are happy to talk with you about speaking at a conference or other types of events. Use the contact form to connect with us. Let us know the event you would like us to speak at and any other details that you think would be useful for us to know before talking with you about the event.

Animal Hippo

We are normalizing more and more the conversation around Mental Health by
bringing it up every time, and doing exercises around it. We will continue to go deeper around the use of VR for Mental Health and designing for their peers.

Field Notes

Seattle Public Library