Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Interview with UIUC GSLIS Student on Librarians and Second Life

A UIUC graduate student, Sue Bergren (Sue Karillion in SL), wrote yesterday asking if she could interview me for a paper she was writing as part of a practicum in SL this semester. She explained that she had attended my online presentation at the Virtual Librarian Conference , was reading my blog and had some questions. I was glad to answer as it caused me to reflect on what I've been doing and where I'm headed. Thanks, Sue!

How can librarians provide value in a virtual world? - As a librarian, what do you do in SL? - Would you give me some examples of what you do?
I think we need to keep our eyes on the mission of our libraries and work to that end while in Second Life (SL), and by doing so we will provide value.

I am an academic librarian and according to my library's mission statement we are "to support the instructional programs and research activities of our institutions by providing access to information in a variety of formats, and to provide instruction in the use of traditional and new information resources and technologies." I see SL as many things, including another format of information. Most everything I do as a librarian in SL lines up with my library's mission statement.

As a librarian I do a variety of things in SL. This past summer I assisted a professor from my institution in teaching his first class in SL. I researched the best resources for helping his students to get started in SL and then included those in a wiki we developed for his class. I was given a skydeck to develop above some land we leased and went about setting up an office building with resources I felt would be helpful for his students. I created tutorial posters and an informational display on education in SL. Most importantly, I assisted students with their information needs in much the same way I assist students needing help with library databases. I met with students and the professor inworld when requested and built strong relationships with all.

Finally, I collaborate with other librarians inworld and volunteer on the reference desk at Info Island International once per week. The professional development and networking potential (global networking at that!) was something I did not immediately value and which I now find to be incredibley valuable. A whole new world has opened up for me. I've always wanted to travel and meet others from around the country and the world. Not only do I do that in SL, but we share and collaborate in ways that simply are not possible in 1st life. I attend information literacy discussions 2-3 times a month on Infolit iSchool Island hosted by Univ of Sheffield faculty/lecturer, Sheila Webber. I attend professional association meetings without putting a dent in my university's travel budget. I meet, work and play with librarians and educators from around the world on a regular basis. Sometimes when I leave these meetings I walk away ( or teleport usually) and think about events I've attended in 1st life. Events/conferences for which I spent money for travel and paid to attend, and I marvel that my experiences attending events inworld tend to be as good and many times better. I learn and grow in Second Life.
(Click the small square w/arrows in right corner to enlarge & see descriptive info and again to go back.)

How long have you been using SL? - Why did you choose SL over some of the other virtual worlds?
I have been in SL since June 2006, but was not very active at all during my first year. SL was less developed at that time, there were fewer orientation options, and I struggled with learning the technology. I did, however, see the potential and as an early adopter I kept going back until I eventually became comfortable.

I chose SL over other virtual worlds because it is currently the most developed, especially in the area of education. This may change with the many VWs in development. I explore other VWs at times and work to keep abreast of VW developments.

What are your plans for the future?

Now that I'm known at my university as the "SLibrarian," I am the go-to person for anyone who has questions on SL from profs to students to administrators. I will continue to do my best to assist with any questions/needs they may have regarding this newer technology.

I am also working in SL with other librarians on ways we can best work to serve others and each other in SL. I belong to the American Librarian Association (ALA) group in SL as well as the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) group in SL.

I am currently working on a project that involves creating inworld educational subject guides using an inworld/outworld tool called Sloog. In the same way that librarians create subject guides for web resources, there is a growing need for such guides inworld. I hope to share about this project at an ACRL in SL meeting in the near future and recently lead a discussion on Infolit iSchool Island on this topic.

Lastly, I am working on a couple of other non-profit ventures in SL. There are so many opportunities to be involved inworld, I find it can be difficult to say no to some of them. SL is an excellent way for early adopter librarians to keep abreast of emerging technologies and to take a lead role in the brave new vitual worlds of our future.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

An early morning tweet led me to this and it's really worth a look.
From the Center for Social Media website The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
This guide identifies five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials, wherever and however it occurs: in K–12 education, in higher education, in nonprofit organizations that offer programs for children and youth, and in adult education.
And here is yesterday's Chronicle post on this. It will be interesting to see how folks respond. I've only scanned the guide but I think the info shared in the video below makes a lot of sense. Though it sure can be difficult to make everyone happy when it comes to copyright & fair-use...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Digital Storytelling? Look to Second Life

Today is my day off and I have a long to-do list (and this blog post was not on it). Included on my list was to attend a Metanomics Series interview at NMC campus in Second Life from noon-1pm. I did that and for the first part a woman named Alanagh Recreant shared about UTHANGO Social Investments and Virtual Africa in Second Life.

Of course links were shared to further information on Virtual Africa, which I decided to check out. One thing led to another and before long I found this video which I feel compelled to share. There is a 2 plus minute segment in this video on Virtual Africa. But that's not why I'm sharing this, though worthwhile. I'm sharing because this video is very well done and an example of yet another educational use of virtual worlds. From the website:
"Life on Life" is a 13-minute docu-narrative produced inside the virtual reality platform SecondLife, composed of vignettes narrating one avatar's path through her first year in the metaverse. From magical safaris and artificial lifeforms to hackers and virtual suicide bombers, the real world plays itself out around her in virtual space, and Life passes through with hope and wonder intact! The film explores an intersection of the first and virtual worlds--the drawbacks and the potential.
"Life on Life" has been accepted to the Cambridge Int'l Film Festival, UK, had a scene screened on, and has been promoted by the virtual worlds projects and presses: Orange (France Telecom), Dancing Ink Productions, Babel News, Koinup, Rockcliff University, New World Notes and Thank you to each of these!

I've been interested in digital storytelling since attending the SLEDCC 2008 Conference in Second Life (SL) this past September. The session where I was introduced to digital storytelling in SL was related to work being done by Peggy Sheehy (SL: Maggie Marat) and others with teens in Teen SL. Their work incorporates a broader array of media than the narrative video above. I never did blog about this experience, partly because I couldn't quite figure out how to articulate the impact it had on me. It turns out she and others presented at other conferences during the past summer and a blogger (and SL friend of mine) Chris (SL Topher Zwiers) wrote an excellent post on this on his MUVE Forward blog titled "Ramapo Islands: Quality Learning in Second Life."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The ALA, Libraries and Second Life

The American Library Association Virtual Communities and Libraries Membership Initiative Group (ALA VCL MIG) is pleased to announce its first ALA SLymposium to be held in the virtual world of Second Life(SL) on ALA island on Saturday November 8. There is no charge for the event. I'm posting here to encourage library workers to register and attend.

The recent growth and development by the global public and education community in SL means that our roles as library workers may be evolving. There are information needs in virtual worlds (VWs) that parallel those needs in real life. As an academic librarian, who is active in SL by both supporting faculty from my university who teach in SL as well as volunteering weekly on the Info Island International reference desk, I feel I benefit greatly from my involvement (as do those I serve). Here is a link to the ALA in Virtual Worlds wiki which includes additional links to information.

In future blog posts I'll also be writing on the activities of the ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) in SL Group, of which I am a member.

The ALA island was developed in 2007 and there are events and discussions held regularly. The photo included here is from a recent discussion on ALA Island. Oberon Octagon, ALA Island Manager (the tiger avatar in the closeup photo), talked about ALA Island and what it can do for us. One new project the ALA is working on involves assisting those library workers who are new to SL with orientation needs. Proper SL orientation is important for all newcomers and I was glad to hear this.

For those who may be wondering how committed ALA is to SL, here is info I copied from the ALA Staff in SL Group Charter
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 65,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.

Our presence in Second Life marks a commitment to virtual membership by the members of ALA Staff.

This island was made possible through a donation by San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science.

I'm glad to see the ALA is following the virtual worlds movement and willing to support library workers on the cutting edge. Time will tell just how successful SL will be. For now it is by far the most developed VW with the largest presence of library workers. As more library workers become involved in SL, more ALA staff involvement/support will be supplied. Attend the ALA Slymposium if you possibly can and see for yourself what is happening with libraries/library staff and Second Life.