Nov 092006

The simulation game Second Life got a fair bit of coverage a few weeks ago when Reuters announced it was opening a virtual news bureau there. Now the UK library systems vendor Talis and the Alliance Library System have just issued a joint press release, announcing their work together to extend and enhance current Info Island/ Second Life Library capabilities through the establishment of a brand new island inside the virtual world; Talis Cybrary City. According to the annoucnement, “… Cybrary City which will be part of Info Island/Second Life Library services [will] provide a space for participating libraries to showcase their local resources. With Cybrary City, there will also be an area for hosting continuing education events, conferences for librarians and the development of information tools for the collaborative library.”

Apparently there is already a Second Life Public Library. According to Jenny TheShiftedLibrarian:

Neither [library] 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.’

Though the library has yet to begin producing articles, Jade says the institution will take an active role in acquiring content….

Visitors to the library will access its holdings through searchable and browsable terminals linked to a r/l database that will return a notecard visitors will be welcome to keep, free of charge. The system’s code is being written by Jade, Christopher Omega, and Robin Huber. Librarians will also be on hand eventually to help visitors navigate the system.” [The Second Life Herald]

“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.

Second Life has its own economy (the game’s currency, the Linden dollar can be exchanged for US$ – current rate is about SLL280 = USD1), and indeed a large part of the appear of the game for many players seems to be about creating things within the game that other users are prepared to pay for. So it will be interesting to see whether Second Life journals develop on a subscription, PPV or open access model, or some new model not as yet in use here!