Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Pomona Writer

Pomona Writer is an SL librarian doing double duty in the libraries on the islands of Amatsu Shima, which has a Japanese theme, and UUtopia, actually four islands founded by a group of Unitarian Universalists. Between these two commitments (not to mention RL), Writer was kind enough to take some time and answer my many questions.

                     (Pomona Writer inside the UUtopia Community Library)

Amatsu Shima is a beautiful, Japanese-themed island owned by Suzanne Logan. Logan used to run an Okiya (geisha training school) on the island, which is what first drew Writer to it.

"I just wish I had been one," said Writer, addressing the fact that she, like so many SL librarians, is not a trained librarian in RL, "so SL is a place for me to realize that dream!"

"The materials in the Library [which opened in 2008] were both SL books with opening pages and some click-receive-notecard "books" or posters.  These were about geisha, Japanese poetry, history, art, and literature.  

There was also an archive of posters containing notecards from the similarly-themed lectures given by Rena Winkoop at Hana no Sei, her educational installation, then located on Amatsu Shima. 
A children's room contained some books with Asian themes and some of general interest to children as well." Writer used to read books out loud to groups visiting the library.

"During this period, about 25 to 30 avatars per month visited the library."  Though there is no longer a visitor counter, Writer estimates that this was the library's peak in terms of traffic.

"In 2010, the Library shrank to its present size due to a smaller building and restrictions on numbers of books allowed to be displayed.  It was felt that the textures of the books were causing too much lag." Today the library contains mainly "SL books that open and close," some even authored by members of the community.

"Currently, the Library is more of a pleasant reading room," and while groups continue to meet here, they are generally focused on non-Japanese literature and poetry. Writer credits this to changing interests, part of the natural progression of SL communities.

                                     (Outside the Amatsu Shima Library)

Writer's biggest project is the community library on one of the four UUtopia islands. This is a very library, actually owned by Writer, dealing with both Unitarian Universalism and world religions. Writer also owns a Shintu shrine next door to the library, which serves as evidence of her interest in Japanese culture.

UUtopia was founded a year and a half ago by a group of Unitarian Universalists who had connected previously in SL. Writer has been involved with the community since its very beginning. She sees her library as serving the community in two ways: of course providing an information service, but also contributing to the cause through her land rental fees.

Writer describes her library as an "amateur effort," but considering the fact that she operates it entirely on her own, she offers an impressive scope of books, utilizing SL books, web links, and notecards.

And her effort is rewarded by visitors, 120 of them in less than a month.

Writer credits the success of this library to the enthusiasm of the group as a whole, and also to the fact that people who visit are often interested in religion in the first place.

In addition to the library, UUtopia offers a variety of resources on UU and other religions, in addition to a host of events, including UU services.

"In this case the library is just an addition to the larger effort on this island," sais Writer.

Writer has more plans for the library, saying "there is always something more to do, and of course, I always wish I had more time to do them!"


                                              (Outside the UUtopia Library)

Thank you again to Pomona Writer!

Until next time,

Jo

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