Archive for the ‘Second Life’ Category

ALA Library in Second Life

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

My name is Valerie Hawkins and I work in the Library of the American Library Association (ALA), where my title is Library Reference Specialist. Chiefly I respond to questions about ALA and about libraries and librarianship from ALA staff, members, and nonmembers, by phone, fax, mail, e-mail, and, most recently, by chat/instant messaging.

But an even newer development in my reference duties has been appearing in and responding to questions while in the Second Life virtual world, specifically on ALA Island, in the Member Lounge, as the avatar, ALALIbraryVal Miles. My virtual self has already conducted an in-world book talk, discussing the various books available that teach and instruct about living and thriving in Second Life, and also created an in-world scavenger hunt, for the specific purpose of directing both new and long-existing avatars to some of the more interesting locations and destinations in Second Life, from its virtual space and sea museums to its islands devoted to television shows and cable channels to the incredible original creation of the Alliance Library System in Illinois, Info Island and its Second Life Library.

The scavenger hunt was meant to function much like ALA’s initial “50+ Great Web Sites for Kids & Adults” and its sequel, “700+ Amazing, Spectacular, Mysterious, Wonderful Web Sites for Kids and the Adults Who Care About Them,” in which the goal was to spotlight the many educational and cultural destinations available in this new online virtual space, as opposed to the adults-only destinations that receive a disproportionate amount of media attention, creating the impression that all there is to offer in this new space are such decidedly mature, even prurient entertainments. Nothing could be further from the truth. Second Life provides a brand new, one-of-a-kind opportunity to teach, learn, and communicate about any and all subjects in visually creative ways.

Your Second Life avatar is a 3-D representation of you, which types to communicate with other avatars via text chat (and now has the relatively new option to communicate through voice chat, speaking and listening to others using a headset that connects to your computer). So far, ALALibraryVal Miles has spoken in-world with:

a university librarian, working with a professor that has integrated Second Life into his accounting class assignments, who was looking for a library-related place to rent space and therefore expand her sole library kiosk and message board, in order to provide better library service to the professor’s students;

a university student, sent to me specifically by her professor (with whom I was acquainted), to talk out what kind of graduate-level Second Life library project she could create to complete her class with the professor;

a librarian from a prominent university library looking for advice on a possible in-world digitization project;

a librarian looking for groups devoted to teen and young adult literature;

and several others, including ALA staff, members, and nonmembers, who needed more direction and instruction on navigating the Second Life virtual world.

In order to continue the guidance provided by both the book talk and the scavenger hunt, a kiosk was built in the Member Lounge that freely distributes the detailed notecards that accompanied both events, so that any visitor to ALA Island can walk, fly, or teleport away with both more information on how Second life works and on what there is to see there. There is an intention to update these existing notecards and create new ones as needs arise.

The Second Life virtual world is a valuable, special addition to the services that libraries can provide and to the knowledge that ALA can pass on to its members.

Conference Schedule for ALA Island in Second Life

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Starting TODAY, Friday, June 27, there will be an Annual Conference Day-in-Review at Salon Huron on ALA Island (179, 201, 29) at 5:00 pm Second Life Time/Pacific Time (7:00 pm CT / 8:00 pm ET):

Join Oberon Octagon (aka Donavan Vicha), ALA Island Manager, and guests to discuss programs and meetings taking place in Anaheim for the 2008 ALA Annual Conference. We’ll meet in Salon Huron on ALA Island (179, 201, 29) at a time we hope falls between the end of meetings but ahead of dinner plans and night-time activities. Oberon is at ALA Headquarters in Chicago so he himself will have nothing to report, so please help him out along with others who aren’t able to attend!

FYI: Please keep in mind that this is Second Life’s Fifth Birthday and the Second Life Grid will be taxed! We’ll do our best to be there, though!

This Annual Conference Day-in-Review will be at 5:00 pm Second Life Time/Pacific Time today, Sunday, and Monday. However, on Saturday, June 28, the Day-in-Review will start at 4:00 pm Second Life Time/Pacific Time (6:00 pm CT / 7:00 pm ET) instead:

We will start an hour earlier on Saturday in order to get in on the Virtual Communities Members Interest Group Meeting at Salon Huron that is planned to run 90 minutes and will include visits with SLers in-world.

Meanwhile, for those Annual Conference attendees who are still puzzling out Second Life, be sure to visit the ALA Member Pavilion on the exhibit floor in the Anaheim Convention Center, where ALA staff member Christina Coleman will be presenting a demo of the Second Life virtual world at 1:00 pm (Pacific Time). The demo will be presented at 1:00 on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Conversations at ALA

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Active participation in the conversations that keep an association “live” have a long history at ALA. After all, “conversation” is an association “c” — along with continuity, context and community. There are approximately 5,000 people in “official” committee and board positions (i.e. listed in the ALA Handbook of Organization). That’s a good number — but there are more, many more, involved in discussion groups and interest groups (both face-to-face and electronic). Over the last few years, ALA “participation” has become increasingly varied and diverse.

Preparing to contribute to a couple of panel discussions on online communities and social networking at DigitalNow, I realized my current sense of the volume of social network and online community activity at ALA was “lots” and “more” — generally correct, but hardly specific. So, I went in search of some data. Here’s what I found — and it represents an impressive contribution from both members and staff. As of about April 22, 2008, ALA’s “footprint” in the worlds of social networking and online communities looked like this:

There were 2,671 participants in ALA’s Facebook group as of April 18 — with about 15 more joining the group every day. Four divisions and four round tables had groups in Facebook. There are ALA Students Chapters in Facebook, as is the Office for Intellectual Freedom. The Freedom to Read Foundation has a group in Facebook — with 146 members after one month — and is beginning to raise money in Facebook.

In Second Life, ALA’s National Library Week 2008 events attracted 2800 visits from around the globe (plus staff visits). ALA president Loriene Roy spoke in Second Life. AASL’s Doug Johnson gave a presentation, as did Jenny Levine (on gaming in libraries). YALSA streamed podcasts. The many contributions of Lori Bell (Alliance Library System) to ALA in Second Life were recognized. After the Banned Books Week events in Second Life, ALA had 89 people in its ALA SL Notification group; that number is now 245. (And there’s also an ALA Member Initiative Group: Virtual Communities and Libraries — which held its first face-to-face meeting at the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.) To teleport to the ALA Island/ALA Main Stage, go to: . Also, Valerie Hawkins in the ALA Library has prepared an extensive guide to SL, at .

On Ning, current statistics show 357 members (most, but not all, ALA members) in an ALA-labeled group in Ning. See . YALSA also has a Ning site for student members. There are other library-related, but not ALA-specific, groups in Ning, too — e.g. Second Life Librarians.

About a year ago, I asked how many blogs and wikis had been developed in “ALA space.” The answer then? More than 30 of each — and growing. The answer now? There are 70 blogs and 125 wikis that we know of — and still growing. Most of these can be accessed through the ReadWriteConnect link on the ALA home page.

Looking at “old” social networking technology, ALA has 948 active email discussion lists on Sympa (1095, counting inactive lists with available archives). There is no up-to-date count on the number of ALA email lists (lists using the name of ALA or one of its component groups) on external servers, such as campus servers. How many people participate on those lists? That, I don’t know — but we’ll add it to the list of “counting” tasks.

Several years ago, ALA implemented an Online Communities platform using DotNetNuke. There are 281 “online communities” currently. Implementation of a range of new online community/social networking features (“ALA Connect”) using Drupal, an open source platform, is underway — but that’s a future post.

Looking at social media, American Libraries‘ series of short videos for National Library Week 2008 received 78,400 views. The single most popular video in the series (The Reference Desk) received 23,530 views. These statistics do not include the views through various external blogs and websites in which they were embedded. We have no count on embeds. Comments appeared on AL Focus, Blip and YouTube. In case you missed them, catch the fun at and .

There are other indicators of the changes in the conversational mix. At the 2007 Annual Conference, a LITA Interest Group (BIGWIG) held an “unconference,” using a variety of social networking tools, including Twitter. As of last week, there were 45 people signed up to follow the 2008 Annual Conference on Twitter ( — and there’s a short thread there from the 2007 Annual Conference. YALSA is also on Twitter.

ALA has a 100-seat (divisible) classroom/meeting room in OPAL, an online meeting/conferencing facility for libraries, which uses a blend of VOIP and text chat. ALA president-elect Jim Rettig has met with his advisory committee in OPAL. Units can reserve space through staff in Outlook.

I know there’s more — and still more coming. If I take another “snapshot” a year from now, how much will have changed? I’m not sure I know how it will have changed — or how much — but I’m sure I’ll see change and that the path will not have been boring.

Thanks to ALA staff colleagues Matt Ivaliotes, Donavan Vicha, Tina Coleman, John Chrastka, Jenny Levine, Don Wood and Beth Yoke who did the counting and provided all the information.

Second ALA Life

Friday, March 14th, 2008

ALA continues to work with its members and the public to experiment in the virtual world Second Life. We held a party in-world for Banned Books Week last year, and this year some very knowledgeable students in San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science helped rebuild our island. We went from a fairly static, sectioned presence to a more interactive and visually interesting one. There’s a new events area, information about each of our divisions, general information about ALA, some games, and other things to explore.

By the memory game

Book Stage at Sunrise

Besides wanting to publicly thank Jeremy Kemp, Bernd Becker, Daniel Brunk, Susie Quinn, and Robin Williams for all of their great work and SJSU SLIS for giving their time to us, I also want to note that we’ll be advertising SL events soon for National Library Week. In the meantime, please be sure to stop by and play around with some of the more fun things on our island. More to come in the future.

ALALibraryVal Miles poses beside the 2008 National Library Week Kiosk, wearing the free t-shirt available.

ALALibraryVal Miles accesses and wears the free National Library Workers Day t-shirt from the 2008 National Library Week Kiosk