Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CIL2007: Alliance & Charlotte Libraries Get a Second Life: Library Services in a Virtual World

Lori Bell(Alliance Library System) will be introducing Tom Peters (TAP Information Services), Kelly Czarnecki (PLCMC) and Matt Gullett (PLCMC).

Bell began with an overview of SL and gave these statistics:
  • 5,000 people per day visit the Alliance Information Archipelago
  • 2,000 - 3,000 teen visitors a day visit the Eye3You Alliance Island
  • Since April 2006, they have gone from 1 to 10 islands, plus 10 partner islands
  • There are 40 hours a week of reference coverage in the Welcome Area of Info Island
She then gave an overview of the islands.

Czarnecki then talked about the teen grid. One person in the audience is involved on the teen grid. She says that the teens come from all over the world. Those teens do not necessary use their libraries in real life, but they go to the library in SL.

Gullett said the ideal for the Eye4You Island was to think about what teens really wanted. He said the island is a space for interactive programming and building relationships. The kids want to learn, but not necessarily from books. They want to learn from each other and the adults (like Czarnecki and Gullett).

In teen SL, there are 90 islands, but only two that are open to all teens. The others are for specific schools and programs. So the Eye4You Island is only one of two public spaces on the teen grid. They are providing a level of accessibility that the other islands are not currently providing. (Czarnecki notes that some of the private islands will become public, like one developed by the Topeka & Shawnee Public Library.)

Peters said that books and exhibits are driving people to the Information Archipelago. Yes, residents are looking for libraries.

What services do people want?
  • Reference services -- Some questions are "real world" while others are "immigrant" questions (from people who are new to SL and just need help).
  • Programs including book and genre discussions
  • Exhibits
  • Collections
  • Training
Why are librarians in SL?
  • This is a new professional frontier.
  • This is where many of our users and non-users are
  • To attract new users to the traditional library through referral
  • To investigate library services in virtual worlds
  • To provide library services 24/7
  • To meet and work with librarians worldwide
  • To learn and use the 3D web, the emerging web interaction interface
  • Funding and sustainability
  • Volunteer burnout
  • Partnerships are key
  • Steep learning curve
  • What libraries services do virtual world users want?
  • What? You're working in SL? Right...
  • Robust hardware and Internet connection are essential
  • No integrated audio and web yet
  • Highly addictive and time intensive
What's next?
  • Permanent virtual ALS staff working out of the ALS world HQ. Likewise for PLCMC.
  • More "traditional" info resources available.
  • Pioneer "meeting technologies' to facilitate virtual meetings.
  • Integrate Info Island and Eye4You into ALS & PLCMC daily operations so all staff are SL functional.
  • Actively promote the Alliance Information Archipelago.
  • Improve transportation around the islands.
  • Create an Info Island for kids.
Why is AIA/E4Y Good for ALS and PLCMC?
  • Continues ALS & PLCMC traditions for being leaders in the library community
  • Provides national profile and recognition as two of the most innovative library systems in the country
  • Easier to recruit excellent board of directors and innovative staff
  • Seen as a leader
  • Easier to land grants for innovative services
  • Teaching new technologies and services

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