Youth involvement: building relationships through creating experiences.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

School Library Journal writes about Second Life

Check out the article in the June issue. Available on their site too. Thanks again to Eiseldora Reisman, (SL name) who's posts to the YALSA blog raised interest by SLJ.

6/1/06 by Lauren Barack.

If patrons won’t come to the library, librarians are willing to take the institution to their customers—even if that means traversing through cyberspace into the virtual world.

That was the decision a group of librarians with the Alliance Library System (ALS) in Illinois made earlier this year when they purchased land and built a library in the online environment known as Second Life (

With more than 206,000 subscribers, Second Life has developed into a thriving community since it launched in 2003. Although entering the world is free, buying land and becoming a significant part of the community requires a subscription fee. Users can design their own avatars (iconic representations of themselves), get married, even turn to a life—a second life that is—of crime. The game has become so popular that some users have started to support themselves in the real world from their business activities online.

Opened only in the last few months, the Second Life library has already held its first discussion group on the Charles Portis novel Norwood. More events are planned, as is a lending library comprised of audiobooks. “The response has been much more than we imagined,” says Lori Bell, ALS’s director of innovation, who has spearheaded the Second Life library. “We had people stopping by to check it out and even ask reference questions.”

Now ALS and other libraries are planning programs for Teen Second Life, a virtual world just for youth that launches this fall. Ideas include classes on podcasting and filmmaking, and even an open-mike night, says Kelly Czarnecki, teen librarian at Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Library in North Carolina, another participating institution.

John Lester, community manager at Linden Lab, creator of Second Life, says the ALS project is the first such entry into Second Life by “real-world librarians.” “They understand what Second Life is good for,” he says. “They immediately realized that it is a 3-D world where people can interact with each other.”