Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fearless Nation

Today I traveled to the library and art gallery of the Fearless Nation, a PTSD support sim. The sim is very straightforward, listing the rules and the goals of the sim which is to provide a virtual space where people can discuss, learn and become aware of PTSD. There are no bookcases or tables with “books.” Rather, there are several walls that have information in bullet point form about many different topics concerning PTSD such as causes, types, symptoms and ways to find help. You’re supposed to be able to click on them for more information, but that didn’t seem to work for me. That aside there was plenty of content to read, more than many libraries I have come across.

On the top level is a kind of art gallery that exhibits art made by individuals affected by PTSD. Many times these art pieces are therapeutic expressions of the artists’ feelings regarding their situations. They were really moving and I think it was a great idea to include in the library.

I think this library was actually a good representation of how organizations like Fearless Nation can try to reach out to people in the SL community who may be suffering from PTSD and could benefit from finding out more. What I really liked was that they state very quickly that they are not trained professionals in treating the disorder but they can help you find help in real life. I think this is a fairly good resource for those in SL who might need such guidance.
What do you readers think about Second Life as a way to extend help people in real life? Are the benefits worth the risks?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pencils and Peanut Butter

Ah, how I love the first day of school. For me, it was always such an intoxicating bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, organic peanut butter sandwiches, and the possibility of making new friends. Since it is about that time of year, I decided to pop by a few of the SL universities to poke my nose about and see what was going on.

My first stop was Saint Leo University. Founded in 1889, St. Leo's is both an online university as well as a traditional one and offers associates degrees, bachelors degrees, and continuing education opportunities. It's virtual campus in Second Life welcomes students, faculty and parents to hold meetings, learn more about St. Leo and/or Second Life, and collaborate together on projects.

The library itself is a small open-air rotunda which prominently displays posters advertising Saint Leo University and methods for contacting them directly. A small seating area features a large tv screen that loops a short "movie" (read: infomercial) about St. Leo's. Beyond the rotunda is a replica of the St. Leo Florida campus. Visitors are encouraged to borrow a segway to tour the sim at their leisure.

My second stop was the Penn State University UBMS (Upward Bound Math and Science) Library. The entire sim was still under construction during my visit but, according to one of the posted signs, their purpose is to help high school students learn about math and science and plan for college.

Bookshelves abound in this library but thus far, none of them contain any resources related to math or science. There are several clickable books on the first floor but all of them represent chapters from works of fiction, primarily children's literature. Cozy sitting areas are arranged on both floors, perfect for gatherings of students who want to collaborate or just chat. A quick peek at their website alludes to the success of the RL UBMS program for Pennsylvania's teens; it remains to be seen if that success will carry over into their virtual environment.

Visit St. Leo's:
Visit Penn State UBMS:

~ 'til our next adventure,

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

To Camelot, we go?

"Hmmm, whatever shall I weareth?" I wondered aloud as I rummaged through my virtual closet looking for something appropriate - and fabulously medieval - to wear. I'd spent the morning sipping coffee and perusing the Rossell Hope Robbins Library website and the words "Camelot...Robin Hood...Crusades" had leapt out at me immediately. Visions of towering castles and shining knights danced through my head and I knew - I just knew - that showing up in my onyx mini dress and slouchy leather boots most certainly would not do.

Smoothed tresses and corseted gown in place, I eagerly teleported to the Robbins Library. Landing on the grass with a soft bump, I looked around, and blinked. Alas, nary a turret or drawbridge were in sight. The Robbins Library turned out to be a very modern Second Life building - easy to fly into, floors made of blond wood, anchored by a gurgling contemporary much for my Arthurian fantasies!

Intrepidity and excitement intact, I stepped in for a look around. Named after it's donors, Rossell Hope & Helen Ann Mins Robbins, this library reflects their intellectual interests: Middle English, Old English, Anglo-Norman, and French literature; medieval history, philosophy, theology, and art; manuscript studies; witchcraft (ooh!); and Arthurian studies.

On the first floor are two tables filled with clickable books; each offer links to websites for the various projects that the library oversees, such as the Robin Hood Project and the Camelot Project. A series of TEAMS Middle English Texts lead to further information on The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages.
On the second floor were beautiful windows designed to look like pages of medieval text and illustrations. An open intellibook of The Gospels sitting in front of one of the elaborate windows made for a very lovely photo opportunity - my gown came in handy, after all!

The Robbins Library is a wonderful resource of medieval treasures. Go ahead and dust off your best gown or suit of armor, then head here:

~ 'til our next adventure,

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back Again

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, but I’m back and ready to tell you about some more of my travels.
I visited Athens Academy not too long ago to see what their library was like. The library is not so much a unit to itself as it is just a wall of books that was in a hallway of what is the visitor center.

The sections are labeled according to topic, many of which are in Greek only. When you click on the bookcase you are given an object that you can drag onto yourself. When you do a window opens showing you pages of the book whose layouts are reminiscent of PowerPoint presentations. I think it’s a great form of presentation for small books such as these.

The topics focus mainly on the sim itself and Greek culture, but nothing too extensive. Unfortunately there’s maybe only one book in English but it’s a great little source for Greek speaking users. The two or three times I have been to Athens Academy I have seen no one, so I assume that even the sim is used fairly infrequently.
The second place I visited since my last post was the Kannonji visitor center and library which is also a Zen retreat. The visitor center and the sim itself are really well done. The center is devoted to providing information about the people who run the sim and their particular sect of Buddhism, including pictures and links to their website. I traveled up to the library first just to see what it was like. The main bookcase was nothing more than that. If you click on it, the only options are to move the ladder. Pretty unexciting.

However, the wall to the right of that bookcase has topics you can click on to take you to their website where you can find more information. In this way it’s a library, but it would be nice to be able to click on the books for links instead.
The rest of the sim is actually quite active. Right next to the front desk is a room for meditation and services. The first time I visited there was a substantial group of people. Another part that I enjoyed was the cave that you could enter through the visitor center.

You can walk through it and kind of enjoy the setting of a cave temple. There are not objects in the cave but many places I assume you could sit and meditate.

That’s all for now!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fancy-Footed and Pest-Free at the Norgesbiblioteket

RL brick-and-mortar libraries are charged with the care of valuable resources which must be protected from the unpredictability of both mother nature and the random ill-intentioned patron. In Second Life, however, there are no such limitations and the SL architect is free to design with an unfettered imagination. It is thus not uncommon to see a library such as this one, the Norgesbiblioteket (literally translated as The Norwegian Library).

With a facade completely open to the elements, avatars are free to fly in and out as they please. Enormous glass windows allow plenty of sunshine to stream in, bathing the bookshelves in a warm, lovely light - a definite no-no in a RL library. Vibrant green potted plants are strewn in between seating areas and hang pleasingly from the ceiling - no need to worry about pest control in this collection!

All of the signs and notecards here are written in Norwegian but their website provides a brief description, in English, of their intentions: "Norgesbiblioteket in Second Life is the official Norwegian project for developing library services in Second Life. In addition we seek to be an arena for educational and collaborative activities and will cooperate with educational institutions to achieve this goal."

Though there aren't any resources for the non-Norwegian speaker (yet?), the beauty of this library's architecture and it's surrounding gardens make it well worth a visit.


~ 'til our next adventure,

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Library Roundup: Bhaktivedanta Library and Reading Room

The Bhaktivedanta Library is a small reading room in a beautiful Hindu/Indian  sim on the Archers Island.

As a reading room, one cannot really expect any sort of reference service available. Additionally, with only two chairs and a bench, this is not a place for any kind of book discussion or other event. It is a peaceful environment to explore Hindu and Indian text, and I believe that is all it ever intended to be.

For such a small place, this library succeeds at providing a variety of resources. While some books need to be purchased in order to be read, others send you to a web page or deliver a notecard free of cost. The texts are primarily religious in nature, and though there is no way to find out what books they have without clicking on each individual one this doesn't bother me because a) the library is so small and b) the theme is very clear. Anyone who wants information on Hinduism will be interested in these books, and anyone who isn't will quickly realize it. This is also conveyed by the decor (images of Ghandi, etc.).

The one exception to the Hinduism books was this Indian cookbook, which, as a great fan of Indian food, I thoroughly enjoyed. This book was not available for purchase but was large enough to read when zoomed in.

Overall, I think this library effectively does what it intends to do, and in the process creates an enironment that is both pleasant and conducive to learning about Hinduism.



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Are Y'all Excited for Library Roundup Part II? Genesis City Public Library

In the interest of seeing and reporting on as many libraries as possible, I am once again going to feature several libraries in one day.  However, unlike last time, today I will be publishing several short posts instead of one realllly long one. Keep reading to see where I went this week!

First up...Genesis City!

Now, I know I mentioned this library last week when I stumbled upon that poster selling a generic library building with generic library features. The odd thing was that the library advertised on the poster just about perfectly matched the Genesis City Library itself.

So the big question is, did the maker of the Gensis City library create this design and is attempting to sell it to make some L$s on the side, or is this library the product of some copy-and-paste method? I'm not going to try and find that out today. Instead, I am going to look at the library in the same way I would look at any other: amount of resources, target audience, and general effectiveness.

The Genesis Library boasts "ACTUAL REAL BOOKS FREE." In practice, this means that when you click on a bookshelf, you are offered a menu and then are able to choose a book, which automatically enters into your inventory. Somewhat annoyingly, one is not able to rez the books in the library itself. Each freestanding bookshelf offers approximately four to nine options (so no, there are not as many books as you see in the photo). The selection itself is pretty bland (Shakespeare, the Bible, Alice and Wonderland, etc.). However, since the sim of Genesis City is supposed to be modern New Jersey (although why anyone would choose New Jersey with the whole Grid before them is beyond me) this does not bother me, because it seems as if it is trying to act as a typical public library (i.e. appealing to the general public). But I must say, because these are mostly resources that are very easy to get one's hands on in other capacities (most are probably in full text online), I cannot imagine that this library sees a lot of traffic.

My favorite thing about this library is the information that floats above the bookcases once one gets close to them, telling you what is on each shelf. This is helpful, albeit not as helpful as a simple search, and is better than what most SL libraries do in conveying to the visitor what they have. All in all this is a pretty straightforward setup. I do not see any kind of reference feature. The only furnishings in addition to the bookcases are a single couch and a box of cigars, so I do not imagine they are able to hold a lot of events in this space.

The point person for this library is named Dioxide DeSantis, and the library can be found here:

Be back with more before you know it!


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A waffle-powered trip to the ool...

"Let's take a trip to the ool!"
"The ool? What's an ool?"
"A pool without the pee!" ...giggle*giggle*giggle...

The tinies are surely the silliest and friendliest bunch in the whole wide metaverse. In the mood tonight for a few silly squiggles and giggles, I decided to slip on my tiny-wear and take a skip through Raglan Shire. Almost as soon as I landed, I was greeted by an adorable tiny named Bree. Instant friends, Bree offered to show me the Raglan Public Library...yippee!

Cheerfully decorated with tiny-sized chairs and a polka-dotted fireman's pole, the Mint Chocolate Chip (With Sprinkles!) Raglan Public Library was brimming with fairy tales & classics to read and classical music to play. The walls were lined with bookshelves, each devoted to a different subject: Home & Garden, History, Science & Technology, etc. In the middle of the floor was an intellibook entitled Tiny Tayles: I want to be an Astronaut...looked to be a good read, indeed.

While I wandered the stacks, Bree and my pal Dawn
ran into an old friend - and fellow library patron - Angel. A hug and kissy fest ensued, and soon we four were off to the ool (pool without the pee!)
to go for a dip, beat on some drums and dance the night away! I was a bit sad that my visit to the tiny library was...well...a bit tiny, but so charmed was I by the Mint Chocolate Chip (With Sprinkles!) Raglan Public Library, that I was sure it wouldn't be long before I returned.

~'til our next adventure!

Visit Raglan Public Library:

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Community Library Case Study: Rosehaven Winterfell

One thing I have learned throughout the process of learning more about libraries in SL is that a library's effectiveness, particularly that of a neighborhood or community library, is not only dependent on the quality or amount of resources they provide, but also how well those resources coincide with the focus of the community. A library can work really hard to have usable and well-presented resources or organize events, but if the members of the community are not interested in them it is not a worthwhile use of their time and efforts. In my experience, RL community libraries offer a wide range of general materials, also often having an emphasis on local interest materials. This same concept applies to SL, although on a more drastic level, as communities are much more thematic than in RL.

Most SL libraries do take their target audience into consideration, especially since the libraries themselves are usually founded by members of the community. In some instances the theme is clear (Japan, New England, Steampunk), clearly dictating what materials and events people will be interested in. In some cases it is less clear. There are, for example, a large number of generally "dark, fantasy" communities out there. What does that mean in terms of the library resources most desired by the populace?

To explore this question I visited one such community: Winterfell, and Rosehaven, its public library.

Link to Rosehaven:

Rosehaven Library holds an impressive amount of information for an SL library. Walking in, one sees many bookshelves lined with books:

As I've learned before, this isn't always as good a sign as it seems. Many libraries (inexplicably) have shelves you can't touch, or offer only one link or notecard for each entire bookcase. However, here each book can be touched separately, each leading to its own URL.

There is a lot of information available, and it is even divided up into subcategories, yet these categories are all over the map, not giving me any sense of the community's focus. Yes, there are many categories that reference "the imagination," hinting to the fantasy vibe of the community. But there are also books on the mythology of the British Isles and bookbinding. Even in the section entitled "Just Plain Winterfell," which I would obviously assume would give some sense of the main topic of interest, I found a seemingly random assortment of poetry and fiction.

Aside from the unfocused assortment of texts, many of which seem to obscure or individualized to attract the interest of the larger community, my main complaint is that there is no real way to search for something specific. Rather, one must randomly select books and hope to stumble across something of interest, which, again, seems unlikely given the options.

I don't want to be too hard on this library because I feel that more work has been put into it than many others I've seen. I am impressed by the number of resources, yet I feel that they weren't chosen thoughtfully enough to make the library a real success within the community.

In contrast with the downstairs, the upstairs of the library contains no books. What it does contain is a really nice and comfortable meeting area (I was even offered a sniffer of cognac!).

And from what I can tell, this space does seem to be in use. Below is a poster for a book discussion group:

As you can see, the subject of the discussion was "A Feast of Crows," a fantasy novel (and a dark-looking one at that). This is an encouraging sign. Not only does it show some recent activity within the library (more so than the supply of books is able to, since we don't know when those were created), but it is also focused on the general theme of the community. Somebody involved with this library knows how to generate interest. I am going to try and track this person down and learn more about the library's direction and how it's doing.

Until then, (Whew! That was long-winded.)


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Monday, August 8, 2011


Named after a dynamic and accomplished librarian to commemorate her impressive career here, the Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archives is a comprehensive transit operator-owned library featuring resources related to transportation issues and history. It serves the employees of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, governments, research institutions, and the general public.

Ta-da! I'm definitely in the right place.

A bright and airy lobby welcomes each visitor with a selection of relevant Web 2.0 resources, encouraging them to directly interact with the library and it's collections. My personal favorite is their Flickr photostream featuring a collection of thousands of historical images that is searchable by keyword, while each image is accompanied by a map pinpointing it's location. Another favorite is their Scribd shelves which can be searched for pages of government documents related to transportation. Documents can then be downloaded, printed, or shared via social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook - oh my!

Through the lobby is the main reference room. Past the large interactive Metro Map are two decorative bookshelves (no readable books here!): one bookshelf links to the library's catalog of 45,000 books & reports and 150 periodical titles, and the other bookshelf links to TLCat, the union catalog of transportation libraries.

...dreaming of taking a trip on the Metro...

To the rear of the building is the Historical Photo Archive, a small glass room decorated with framed photos of horse drawn streetcars and cable cars from the late 1800s, buses from all eras, and other fascinating images. Not on display are other media items in their RL collection including films, tapes, and videotapes, a few of which can be seen on their YouTube channel.

...somewhere off camera I'm standing transfixed by the Metro's rich history...

Public accessibility and an eagerness to serve the "worldwide community" is emphasized on the library's website and this mission is clearly articulated through the many access points throughout it's Second Life counterpart. For a closer look at this amazing library, visit inworld:

~'til our next adventure,

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who the heck is Zoe Foodiboo?

I'm a RL museum archivist...I'm a SL volunteer librarian...and I'm the newest resident scholar blogger at Al-Qantara Library. Lovely to meet you, dear readers!

I was in library school when I first heard about Second Life and it was through class projects that I discovered the joys of SL travel. For my first six months in SL, I made it a point to visit as many sims as I could every time I logged in. I played parcheesi in Egypt, I went skydiving at Sialimonus, and I dipped in onsens at Pontocho Virtual Geisha sim - oh what fun I've had exploring!

Now that I've settled into my new desk at Al-Qantara Library, I'm ready to marry my two great meta-loves: libraries and travel. Like Artemisia and JoCupcake, I'll make weekly visits to a handful of libraries and report back to you with the amazing, the quirky, the inspiring - and everything in-between. I look forward to engaging in conversations with you as we consider together what libraries are currently doing in Second Life (and other virtual world environments), how & why they're doing it, and what they might look like in the Web 3D-point-O future.

Are you with me? Fantastic! Here we go....

~ Zoe

Me at my desk in the Scholars' Studio at Al-Qantara Library
Photo Credit: Al-Qantara Library

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Library for Sale, Only $L995!

I clicked on this poster without looking at it too closely, hoping to find some general information on the Genesis City Library.

Instead, I was asked if I wanted to buy the DeSantis Public Library BOXED (no modify) for 995L$.


I have to admit I was tempted, but decided against it. But I'm going to have to find out more about this (maybe it's a way for the library to make some cash on the side?).


P.S. That yellow bulleted list almost perfectly describes what you'll see inside the library. Except their shelves "contain" "real" books, which are automatically added to your inventory.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

First Impression: Buddha Center Library

The Buddha Center Library is one small element of a large Buddhist complex in SL. It is just one room, and from what I can tell there is no reference function, or even an active librarian. I have contacted a couple of people whose names were associated with the objects in the library, and am hoping to talk to them more soon. However, in the meantime, I want to give my first impressions of this lilbrary, and this is because I am very impressed with it.
For such a small space, the creators of this library have truly packed in an incredible number of resources. The shelves are positively lined with "books" (see below), and each one, when touched, delivers a notecard containing a lengthy passage.

Unlike some of the other SL libraries, which attempt to act as fully-functioning, RL libraries in a virtual environment, this one is very clear as to what they are offering. They give you a multitude of resources on their topic of interest, and then give you a taste of what that resource offers, allowing you to the option to pursue it further if you wish.

This is so simple, yet most likely took a lot of work on the part of whomever created it. Most importantly, it seems like a model that could really work. I am anxious to get the chance to talk to some of the people involved and find out if it actually does.

Until then,


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Try to Touch the Bookshelves at the Library of Birmingham...

This is one of the cooler things I've seen in SL...

Earlier today I typed "Library" into the Search under Places, just to see what would come up. One of the first things I saw was the Library of Birmingham. Having never visited, I decided to teleport there and check it out. 

The Library of Birmingham is gorgeous, modern, and extravagant. It is also deserted (but I guess that kind of goes without saying). Once I arrived I began my usual assessment, which first involves touching the bookcases to see what happens (if it gives me a notecard, sends me to a URL, etc.). But nothing happened. In fact, none of the bookshelves even gave me the option to "touch" them. 

"Why would anyone build such an extensive building and not bother to make it functional as an actual library," I wondered to myself (though I suppose I could have wondered it into the local chat, since nobody was there to read it anyways).

My curiosity led me to the place that most people go with their curiousity: Google. I searched "Library of Birmingham Second Life," and was led to this article:

The Library of Birmingham, it turns out, is an exact replica of the actual proposed public library in the real-life city of Birmingham, England! The virtual model has been built two years prior to the ground-breaking of the actual library, giving the citizens of Birmingham the opportunity to provide feedback. 

Am I a nerd for thinking this is a great idea? Surely Library of Birmingham isn't the first to do this, but it is the first I've heard of it, and it strikes me as the single most practical and innovative usage of a virtual reality that I've heard of, while still being in accordance with the aims of Linden Lab. But what is perhaps most interesting to me is that this is very recent - the library just opened on July 4th of this year! Does this mean that use of SL for academic purposes is not over? 


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