Unfortunately, it looks like I won't get to go to this year's Games + Learning + Society Conference, which looks just as fascinating as last year's version. I learned a lot about gaming and education at this event last year, made some great connections, and became intrigued with the online game Second Life.
Actually, I don't really think of SL as a game so much as a virtual world, a parallel universe where you can be and do what interests you in that type of space. After seeing some presentations about how SL works and how it's being used in both higher education and in the medical field, I started to wonder if there was an intersection for libraries. I talked to the lead developer, to a professor that is using the game in her ethics course, and to some of the other folks at the conference. Some of the ideas generated have been floating around in the back of my mind ever since, never getting any further due simply to a lack of time.
However Lori Bell, currently the Director of Innovation at the Alliance Library System, has picked up the ball and run with it. Here's what she sent me yesterday.
Alliance Library System and OPAL to Open an Alliance of Libraries 2.0 on Second Life
"Alliance Library System(http://www.alliancelibrarysystem.com/) and OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) – (http://www.opal-online.org/) are pleased to announce that selected OPAL programs will soon be offered in the online virtual reality game Second Life (http://www.secondlife.com/). Book discussions, training sessions, and other programs will be offered to current virtual residents. The goal of the project is to promote the real library and online library services to adults who might not otherwise use the library.
I can't wait to see what happens in this space, and I've already told Lori to count me in. She has already found a Librariaum, as well as the Second Life Public Library, within the game. Neither currently offers reference services, programming, or anything other than a place to gather and some nonfiction books. What could we do with these spaces in the game?
"...Conceiving and planning the library began almost from the moment Jade first became a volunteer SL mentor, in November of 2003. 'The library is really just a reflection of my desire to bring understanding of SL to residents,' she says. Features like a coffee shop and open-air reading rooms are also a reflection of Jade's desire to create 'a social atmosphere for residents who prefer not to go to clubs.'
"Acquiring content." That sounds familiar, doesn't it? What if we could get some of our databases in there, so users could find articles about Second Life in our commercial databases? What if we could get Open Worldcat in there? It sounds like the team could use some preservation and archival help, too! In addition, Lori wondered if perhaps we could build a library in the teen version of Second Life and have programs on gaming, teen coffee houses, and ongoing lists of good reading as well as places to find ebooks.
If nothing else, if MLS decides to continue the Gaming Special Interest Group, perhaps we could hold one of the virtual meetings in Second Life, as Aaron and I discussed last year, just to get people used to such an environment.
Join the AllianceSecondLife Google Group to follow along, and watch Lori and ALS innovate in this space!
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