Library Manager Erik Surber and his staff accept funds for an Oculus from Secretary of State Michelle Reagan (right). Photo by Adam Wolfe

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan stopped in for a visit to the Maricopa Public Library to see a demonstration of the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Wednesday afternoon.

The library was awarded $9,425 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to purchase the virtual reality equipment. Reagan brought an oversized check with her to present to the library’s staff, and she stuck around to see members of the library’s S.M.A.R.T. Kids program test the Oculus system.

“This is a grant we are sure is going to engage and inspire and prepare the next generation of youth,” Reagan said. “We want to better prepare the youth for advanced classes and allow them to gain the technology we know they’ll need in later employment.”

According to a statement released by Maricopa Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown, the Oculus Rift is the latest advancement in virtual reality technology. Though it is still in development, and gaming is its primary, educational and business applications are currently being explored.

“We live in a digital world and there is no going back,” Reagan said. “Libraries like yours understand this better than most and are expanding their traditional collections to include this new and exciting technology.”

Reagan chose not to test the equipment for herself, but the line of children waiting to have a turn on the system shows the money will be immediately put to use.