Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Chinese Tea House Library and Steelhead Public Library

I hope everyone is enjoying these posts! If you find them helpful or even if you think there is something you’d like to see more of or less of, please let us know in the comments! Feedback and discussion are always appreciated.
Starting with a bit of serenity this morning, I visited the Chinese Tea House Library. The sim is very well constructed and detailed. The extent of the library is really just a room with some posters of book covers. When you click on them you receive a notecard that is basically a small review of the book.

The books are not provided for you but are recommended. In this way discussion is emphasized over the quantity of objects they supply. Do you think this emphasis is better? Or do you think the cost (having to find or buy the book yourself) is truly a substantial deterrent?
Also, be sure to look around within the complex. I can never give up the chance to eat baozi (pork buns)!
The second library I visited was the Steelhead Public Library. In contrast to the Chinese Tea House Library, there is a lot more material available. It’s a large, impressive building that has what seems to be a lecture hall and a room devoted to their collection.

There are several bookcases that you can click on. You’re offered an object that will open up the book in the SL web browser. Pretty much all of the books are ones that can be found on the website Project Gutenberg, which is a project that hosts books that are now public domain online. Much like the Steelhead Public Library, so many of the libraries on Second Life are made up of material that is public domain. It’s understandable since that’s probably the only way to find entire books online for free and makes the collection “public.” However, I feel that it is definitely a constraint on what is available in second life. Very rarely do I come across a book that is written recently unless it is a book that was written mainly to be produced in SL. Because of this do you think that copyrights are really the main obstacle in creating successful libraries in SL? While I think copyrights are very important and need to be in place, I’m wondering if there is a way it could possibly be translated into SL. 
Until next time!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monastery Library

Elegant signage to guide me to my desired destination...
Spirituality.  Knowledge.  Wisdom.
These three realizations are written into the mission of the Monastery and their distilled essence can be felt almost immediately upon landing. Created in 2007, the Monastery was originally located in the Alpine Meadow sim, which is part of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS), a community dedicated to virtual democracy.  In 2009, the Monastery became it's own sim and continued it's focus on texts from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

It is currently managed by curator, Arria Perrault, who graciously granted me an interview after I'd toured her inspirational exhibition space and library.
Nestled in the corner, looking out at the 1st floor...
Initially, Arria got involved with Second Life because she was interested in the idea of a virtual museum and thought it could be interesting to make one in a 3D world.  An RL webdesigner by trade, she built the Monastery from the ground up with help from 5 friends whom she honors with a placard in the courtyard.  At the Monastery, Arria curates and hosts 2-3 exhibitions per year and adds resources to her library to compliment the foci of her exhibitions.
She describes her visitors as a diverse group; some come specifically for the cultural activities while others come to enjoy the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.  Still others come to admire the architecture, particularly the steps that lead up to the tower (which is rumored to be haunted by a ghost). 
Chatting with Arria Perrault, curator of the Monastery...

The library itself is quite cozy and there is much to see.  Situated around the 1st floor are pedestals cradling weighty books; a click on each book will reward the visitor with a different notecard.  These notecards lead to information on topics such as "Ancient Roman Food and Dining", "e-codices", "Enluminures", and much more.  The second floor features wall-to-wall bookshelves, some with clickable links to excerpts from books in the public domain.  Sections include: philosophy (Plato), Greek and Roman myths (cave myth, Narcissus, Theogony-He, and poetry. (Horace-Odes, and Christmas Poems). 

In addition to managing the Monastery in-world, Arria also oversees relevant social networking resources, such as the Monastery Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter pages, as well as a website that features a blog with all the latest news. If rejuvenation and inspiration is what you seek however, a direct trip in-world to the Monastery is where you will find it. 

~ 'Til our next adventure,


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Librarium

My library visit for the week was the Librarium at Abitibi

The space is quite large and there are several large bookcases that organize the books according to topic. Each bookcase has arrows you can click to change what book you can read which is something I haven’t really come across before. The book is an object you can attach and then opens up into a notecard that you can read from, usually divided up into chapters. There are a fair amount of books to choose from, roughly 30 to 40 in total, many of which are public domain classics.

Also on the ground floor is a large reading room with couches. There’s a lot of room for events but I didn’t see anything posted around the building that announced what they were. Perhaps there is a community announcement for events at the library.

The strangest part was the second floor which is basically an empty room with a couple of chairs lining the wall. The room is maybe another place for events to take place rather than a space for books.
Overall I think that the space has potential and has an efficient way of presenting the material to visitors but I am interested in the lack of any librarian or any kind of possible interaction you could have there. 

I also travelled to Ancient Ireland to visit a library but I search high and low without ever finding the library. Perhaps there was one there in the past or maybe I’m just missing it completely (if you find it, let me know!). However, I still wanted to mention it because I think it is very well made and a great visit if you’re interested in Buddhist thought or art (I know, the name of the island throws you off)! There are mainly examples of Japanese Buddhism but also South East Asian types as well.


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Friday, September 23, 2011

Bound for Berlin

Visiting with the CVL Travelogue Group

"Ah ein good old Martini!"
"Danke!  Danke!"
"Hic. You are getting me drunk!" 
"Haha...I'm just pouring the drinks, someone else is buying them..."

It was 2pm Second Life Time - otherwise known as daily happy hour time - at 'Der Keller', the local watering hole.  I'd just arrived with my CVL Travelogue friends (CVL being the Community Virtual Library) after a whirlwind tour of 1920s 
 Berlin, led by the lovely Rosemary Thyme.
...over the bridge, past the church, and there it is!

A professional tour guide as well as a local resident, Rosemary showed us all the highlights of this remarkable sim, including an astonishing recreation of the Brandenburg Gate, the infamous Eldorado Gay Club and, of course, best of all, the library.

comfy and cozy....
engrossed in Weimar culture...
The Offentliche Bibliothek  is set back from the street in an unmarked two-story building.  No landmark exists to directly teleport here but finding the way is simple.  Everyone must arrive at Alexanderplatz Station (the sim's welcome point) by steam train; emerge from the station and turn right, continue past the lady playing the steam organ, cross the bridge over the Spree Kanal, and voila! - there is the bibliothek, neatly tucked away behind a church.

Like most everything in the 1920s Berlin sim, the bibliothek was built by Frau Jo Yardley.  Upgraded from a smaller space a few weeks ago,  its current re-creation features walls flanked with rows and rows of clickable bookshelves, conveniently divided into subjects regarding the 1920s and the Weimar Republic.  Browsing the stacks, one of my serendipitous finds included a 1923 New York Times article about hungry Berlin school pupils.  Drifting over to touch another shelf, I came upon a fascinating article - compliments of Project Muse - entitled "The Femme Fatale in Weimar and Hollywood Film Noir".  Although the librarian position is currently vacant at the moment (interested applicants should IM Frau Jo Yardley), there is no shortage of resources for visitors to help themselves to.  And once you're done at the bibliothek, be sure to stop by 'Der Keller' to buy everyone a round - tell 'em Zoe sent you.


~  'Til our next adventure,

Read more »

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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Library at Caledon Oxbridge University

I went to one of the remaining Celadon libraries that we have not reported on yet, the Library at the University of Caledon Oxbridge. It is a lot like the other Caledon libraries in content, basically all of the books you find in any other Celadon Library can also be found here. As for the structure it is very similar to the Whitehorn Memorial Library in that it also has a spiral staircase and several floors of content.

All the books on the top floor are in bookcases but the second floor books are retrieved by clicking on signs that then give you the option to find the books you want.

There are also signs that let you find out about upcoming events and other information about the library.
The one thing I found to be different at this Caledon library was that there were more people here then I had encountered at any other library I visited. However, after I talked to one of the people I met there I discovered that many of the patrons did not actually go there to read the books, but rather just to socialize. My first reaction was disappointment that people were not actually using the library for its intended purpose. However, I feel that an important part of libraries is not only to promote reading and research but also to promote discussion and even debate. In this way it was good to see people spending time in the library, even if it wasn’t to sit down and read a book, something I believe can be a little difficult to do in Second Life in the first place. Also, it is also possible that the libraries are not frequented as much due to the difficulty of supplying demand. It is difficult to maintain a stable turnover of material in SL libraries, I believe. In that case, SL libraries might do better with providing more interactive options.
Until next week!,

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Serafina Puchkina and the New Babbage Library

Ever dreamed about being locked inside a library for the night? Nobody about. Just you and a lot of books. Well here I am, not exactly "locked in" (cuz this Second Life), but feeling the magic of a moonlit and quiet night, all alone in a library. I'm sitting on a red satin settee, drinking a cup of the R.F. Burton Public Library's special cinnabar tea. The fire still flickering in the fireplace (the fact that it was left unattended making me a little nervous, what with all these books) offers the only other light in the room. Behind me tall bookcases cluster together in the dark, filled with books like, All Around the Moon, by Jules Verne, A Journey to Other Worlds, by John Jacob Astor and Electricity: its Nature and Forms, by C. W. Boyce. A foucault pendulum swings silently back and forth in the center of the room.

I was here a number of Saturday's ago for a meeting with the librarian, Serafina Puchkina. She was kind enough to give me a wonderful tour of the library, including a trip to the roof of the building and peeks at surprises the builder, Canolli Capalini, made a part of the library (You'll have to find them yourself. I'm not tellin').

Serafina has been the librarian here for about three years. The library had already been built but Serafina added the books, using Caledon Library bookcases, books and scripts, as many of us with libraries in SL have done. Thank you JJ Drinkwater.

The Library's bookcases all give book objects which hold links to ebooks. The books can be opened (rezzed) and read in the library, something I don't usually encounter in SL libraries but liked very much. Serafina selects books that fit with the theme and interests of the Babbage community.

And what are the interests of this community? Well ... New Babbage is a 19th century Steampunk city (founded in 2007) full of all types of fanciful inventions and mechanical devices. There are airships and submersibles and clocks (very important). Its population seems to be made up largely of builders and scripters. Serafina referred to them as "math and science people." Roleplay is optional but apparently very common.

In addition to supplying New Babbage residents with ebooks, the library also hosts exhibitions and talks. There was an Egyptian exhibit about a year ago and more recently an exhibit called, "Gypsy in Society." There was a talk on Bohemianism in conjunction with the Gypsy exhibition. These types of talks usually bring in 15-20 avatars to the library.

The Library has also co-hosted the Aether Salon, which tends to draw a much larger crowd than the exhibition talks. When I spoke with Serafina in August she and Miss Viv were just about to co-host their last Aether Salon. Dame Ordinal Malaprop was to be their final speaker (For a very interesting Aether Salon talk by JJ Drinkwater see: ).

Serafina is not worried about lack of readership or attendance as some SL libraries are. Most of the Library's collection building and sponsored events have been role-play based or linked to the manufacturing and inventing interests of this very active Second Life community. As to what happens next at the R.F. Burton Public Library... it will just depend on what role-play the New Babbage community plans for the fall. We'll have to wait and see.

Fern Leissa

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

In fair weather, prepare for foul...

"It's not if, it's when."  During my second semester of library school, I took a preservation class where one of our guest lecturers spoke to us about the importance of maintaining a disaster plan and emphasized the need to be prepared for the inevitable.  So when fellow Community Virtual Library volunteer librarian, Valibrarian Gregg, IM'd me to tell me that there would be a live virtual tornado exercise happening today, I immediately dropped what I was doing and rushed over to meet her.

After a quick briefing with the other participants at the Virtual Tornado exhibit on Info Island, Val dropped us a landmark and we all teleported to the simulation site.  Once we settled into the orientation area, the builder of the sim, Freecilla Kuhn, allowed each of us to choose a role to play - victim, police officer, fire fighter, EMS/ambulance driver, or reporter - then carefully walked us through what each of these roles entailed.  

Since it was my first time participating in a live disaster simulation event, I decided to go with the simplest role, victim.  I was given a folder full of animations and accessories which I could use during the event.  These included: "holding head", "blood on face", "laying on side", "waving for help" and the gas mask I'm wearing in the photo above.  

Once we were all comfortable with our accessories and animations, Freecilla led the victims down to the simulation site - which was basically a street lined with shops, a movie theatre, and a cafe - and instructed us to leisurely walk along the sidewalks.   We fanned out and started strolling.  Mere minutes after we began, an enormous black funnel came whipping around the corner. Buildings started collapsing around us so I immediately reached into my inventory, glopped on my fake blood, laid down on the ground, and started moaning.

Meanwhile back at the orientation area, the other participants got into their respective emergency vehicles and sped down to the disaster site.  Firefighters, policemen, and EMS workers canvassed the disaster area, assessing the damage and searching for any hurt bodies.  Still rolling around on the ground and moaning, I waited patiently until a kind EMS worker approached me and helped me onto a stretcher.

When we got to the ambulance, I peered in and saw another victim already inside and, like me, he appeared badly hurt.  Once we were all loaded in, the EMT driver hopped in and raced like a madman up to the hospital (conveniently located next to the orientation area, where we began our adventure).  

When we pulled up to the hospital, Freecilla signaled that we were now free to restore our avis to their normal appearance (aka, sans blood) and return to the disaster site to observe.  I scurried back down to the disaster site and arrived just in time to watch the designated news reporter and camera person wrap up their media coverage of the tornado.

After it was all over, one of the participants and I stuck around to chat for a bit.  Impressed by both the build and the simulation event, we both excitedly discussed our experience and the possibility of librarians, archivists, and other information professionals using this type of event to practice their institution's disaster plans.

Another live simulation event is planned for October 8th at 9am SLT (I somehow got the dates mixed up; the 2nd simulation event was on September 15th.  Apologies for the misinformation.) and all are welcome to participate (simply mark your calendars and teleport to the CVL reference desk on the designated date & time).  Meanwhile, be sure to check out their wonderful exhibit - sponsored by the Texas Library Association SL Group and TRP360 - on Info Island.

~  til our next adventure,

Exhibit at CVL SLURL:

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Libray of Alexandria at ROMA

Recently I visited the Library of Alexandria at ROMA, an ancient Rome SIM. The library is not much more than a single room that’s decorated with Egyptian objects and you can recline on that also has your avatar looking at scrolls. There are no actual books or material to look at, but there is a poster that directs you to their website. From the website you can go to their wiki page and their blog. The wiki page has information about ROMA and how it has developed and the blog is updated with forthcoming events and messages for the SIM’s community.

                It’s a small library and I asume you're suuposed to just reclining on a chair and peruse their websites. I think that it’s a good size for that kind of library and I like the idea of having a separate, small library concerning the SIM itself. The wiki page provides insight into the why’s, when’s and where’s of ROMA's history and is interesting to read. The blog is relatively up to date, and shows a determination to keep the SIM running (despite the absence of any people in the area).
                I want to know what our readers think. Do you think that’s a good idea to have libraries that hold information about the SIMs themselves?


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rockcliffe, Part Deux

                                                     Graciously greeted by Amy, Rockcliffe's Virtual Library Assistant

Founded in 2006, the Rockcliffe University Consortium (RUC) is described on their website as an online non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of education and science in 3D environments.  RUC's main campus is in Second Life but they also have satellite campuses in SPOTON3D, Reaction Grid, and World of Warcraft.   They've hosted the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference for the past 4 years, providing an opportunity for participants to share teaching, learning, and research practices in 3D virtual environments.  Along with free workshops, entertainment events, seminars such as World of Teachcraft, and forums such as Inside the Avatar's Studio, RUC also offers an impressive academic research library.  Over the course of two weeks, I visited their SL library multiple times and yet I feel like I still haven't seen all there is to see.  

                               The machinima wall alone could captivate visitors for hours...

During my first visit, I spent a couple of hours wandering around a sprawling 2-story, 12-room building that houses an overwhelming collection of both SL and RL resources.  Among my favorite resources was a wall dedicated to Machinima where I could review a slideshow of basic machinima definitions and flip through a couple of intellibooks featuring substantive articles on  Machinima, a relevant bibliography, and a slurl to a sim with film sets.  

                                         Whimisical touches everywhere....

An open source and open access enthusiast, Head Librarian Mel Krupinski is equally dedicated to interactivity and whimsy in her displays.  One example is the laptop (seen in the photo above) which, when touched, renders the user weightless.  Another example is SearchBert (seen in the right edge of the photo) which collects one-word inquiries from users and swiftly searches the entire building for relevant resources. 

                                         Walls and walls of textures....

Strewn about the grounds outside is a wealth of useful SL resources including entire walls of textures and a garden of freebies where I could help myself to everything from clothing to presentation tools to gestures & scripts. 

                                  Books are still my favorite resource in any library!

I wrapped-up my self-guided tour at their Deep Research Lab which provides access to thousands of peer-reviewed and open source journals.  Pooped, I then headed outside to flop onto the grass and relax with one of the library's many books.  

The Rockcliffe University Library and Resource Center is truly a wonder to behold. 

~ til our next adventure,

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tipperary Library and Information Center and the Humanism Library at Roma Humanism Garden

Hey everone, it’s time again for my weekly report on libraries I’ve visited. This past week I travelled to the Tipperary Library and Information Center. The library is intimate and the books are organized into shelves according to topics such as cooking, children’s books, Irish and Scottish books, and religious. I was happy to see a well organized and on-topic collection, something that is not always a priority in SL libraries.

The books are on the shelves with ilustrated book covers. Clicking on them opens links in your browser and some of the websites have the books in a convenient layout in which you can click to turn pages, which works really well.

No one was there, but I suggest that you find a book to read and sit nearby the fireplace while you’re there!
The second place I visited was the Humanism Library at Roma Humanism Garden. When you arrive in the garden you are led to the library, which is accessed by traveling down a ramp underground.

The library’s walls are plastered with posters that emphasize the importance of thinking for yourself and respecting the lives of others.

The collection itself is small, only about six books in total. However, they are written by people in the sim rather than just linking to something that has already been produce.When you click on the books they open into notecards for you to read. Other than that the library is quite a large space, with a large section devoted to a reading.I didn’t come across anyone while I was there, but I imagine it might be a good place to discuss and debate with others.
Until next time!

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Interview: Mel Krupinski, Head Librarian at Rockcliffe University Library

So. You know those crazy dreams - the ones you usually have the night before you start your new job, or the first day of class, or...say... before your very first official interview with an SL librarian? The dream where you show up unfashionably late, flustered, and stark naked because, in your noobie nervousness, you’ve clicked “remove outfit” instead of “replace outfit”? Well dear readers, this dream was my reality the day I went to meet Mel Krupinski, head librarian of the extremely impressive Rockcliffe Library. It went a little something like this:

Me: (frazzled and stumbling over self and words): oof. geez. Oh, uh, hi Mel! Sorry to have kept you waiting!

Mel: (cool, calm, and perfectly poised): Oh, no problem. I didn’t wait long.

Me: (panicky, clicking my screen like a madwoman) I’m naked. I'm naked! Oh dear. Am I naked to you?

Mel: (smiling reassuringly) ….hmmm…ah, I think I can see your

Mel Krupinski, lovely librarian

Fortunately (for you and me both!) I was eventually able to compose myself and Mel and I settled into what turned out to be a rather delightful conversation.

Zoe Foodiboo: Yep…okie dokie. Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? How did you get involved with SL?

Mel Krupinski: Well, it all started during my last law library job. The dean of the law school suggested the librarians try it out back in 2006.

ZF: Fantastic!

MK: That’s when I was born…hehe. I helped to build the first law library in SL, on Cybrary City 2. They pulled out several years ago and I no longer work there.

ZF: But you remained involved with SL?

MK: Oh yes. I had been asked to be Rockcliffe’s librarian.

ZF: Were you Rockcliffe’s first librarian?

MK: So far the only one.

ZF: What was it like when you arrived?

MK: The library below us is the third library building, with twelve rooms and a barn area. The first was much smaller, just one part of a sim. Then Phelan [Phelan Corrimal, Rockcliffe’s founder] gave me a whole sim. A whole sim!!! I couldn’t believe it!

ZF: Who are your users?

MK: Our users are just about everyone in SL. Whoever wants to be here can be here. We do have a faculty and a student group. We are still a fledgling organization with an ever changing set of goals but we are definitely here to educate.

ZF: Does an ever changing set of goals make it difficult to select resources?

MK: Well, I stray a little bit away from the goals. So both SL and real world topics…I try to keep it interesting. That’s when I hit on the idea of going toward open access sources of information. That is my specialty these days – open source, open access all the way! I try to keep in line with Rockcliffe’s subject areas: business, marketing, law, the sciences, education. I keep up by reading blogs and literature about open access so I can bring in the newest stuff.

ZF: Do you have a staffed reference desk?

MK: No, we do not. I staff as much as possible.

ZF: Do you know roughly how many visitors you get per month?

MK: I keep visitor stats by name so going by that I may get 200 or so per month. It’s up and down.

ZF: What sort of questions do you get?

MK: Sometimes people want an object they see here. My last visitor was from Pakistan. He liked the Searchbert search machine [a robot that flies around the Rockcliffe library searching for resources/topics that you feed him] so I gave him one.

ZF: How important do you think interactivity is to a library/exhibit?

MK: I try to build it into most of the objects I do…that is with quotes or web addresses when the items are touched. I love to investigate scripts…I play around with them or colors or sound.

ZF: You seem so passionate about what you're doing. What motivates you?

MK: I guess it's just how I've always been. I love to teach and have taught many classes over the years.

ZF: Well, I don’t want to keep you too much longer. To wrap up, can you talk a little bit about what the future holds for Rockcliffe library?

MK: With Phelan Corrimal as the head of Rockcliffe, I believe the library will always be supported. We still have some big goals for research in virtual worlds, not just SL. We want to be the go to organization about virtual worlds.

ZF: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

MK: Thank you for your interest!

Visit Rockcliffe Library:

Stay tuned for photos and notes from my tour of the fabulous Rockcliffe University Library & Reference Center!

~ Zoe

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