Saturday, 8 March 2008

Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education, Museums : 2

This is the second post on the Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education, Museums conference that took place in Second Life on 8 March 2008, mostly in the NMC conference Centre.
The next parallel session I chose was Whatcha Gonna Do?: An Academic Health Sciences Library in Second Life Embraces New Roles Presented by PF Anderson (Perplexity Peccable in SL); the paper was coauthored with Gillian Mayman (Gillian Oh in SL); Anne Perorazio (Kaiya Qunha in SL); and Jane Blumenthal (Wrenaissance Jewell in SL)
The whole presentation is up online at It has loads of slides and I think you can follow some of the main points, so I won't go over all the presentation. I did find it very interesting to see this example of how the services have developed in response to the nature of Second Life and users' interests - and to the opportunities offered.

The island (Wolverine Island) was bought by University of Michigan Medical School in Spring 2007 and students were introduced from September 2007. The island is closed to outsiders. In Summer 2007 the librarians were gaining basic skills and exploring science, health, library and education locations. However, there were a lot of technical problems, and some gave up in frustration. In addition one person had problems with a griefer and never returned to SL.

At one point before launch the team had to put together a video very quickly to help persuade senior officers, and the speakers found this ultimately a positive experience. Perplexity said "What this told me was how EMPOWERING Second Life is. That a real batch of noobs could do this just blew my mind." This video is at
From September 2007 they helped out with an optional module and then had weekly brown bag sessions: SLUM - Second Life at the University of Michigan. These sounded very interesting – speakers, discussions, tours, freebie swaps and so forth. They had RL meetings when the brown bags started and email and blog were important as part of communications strategy.

They also mentioned that they have a larger proportion of distance learners participating in SL compared with the RL proportion of the population. This makes it sound useful for this purpose: keeping in touch with remote learners. They have a (private) wiki, which people asked for. Acadamics are the biggest group of users of the library in SL, however.

They went on to talk specifically about the library: the original very traditional plan had been replaced by aan open building without a roof. There were some RL activities that were unfeasible or didn't make sense in SL. However, instruction; liaison; resouce guides and troubleshooting seemed useful things in SL as well as RL.

They said how they used "vendors" (used by shops) for exhibits in the library; namely the Eatavend system. They "sell" freebies of various kinds, like shirts, food, gestures, and features of the library include game days, patient supprt group, parties, a "spirit" shop and Perplexity noted that "the LIBRARY is the current designated designer of offical UM sports wear for Second Life"! Altogether they were using new skills and going into new and unexpected areas (scripting, world tours, teaching in your (SL) underwear!). They were reaching new people as well, by the sound of it. Perplexity said "Getting a presence with the community was what has paid off the most Just BEING THERE". I have noted how useful collaboration and partinership are, and perplexity said that "No man is an island - especially in SL".

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The blog of Sheila Yoshikawa on her adventures in Second Life. This may be very thrilling. Or possibly not.