Over the course of the past nine months, both staff and members of the American Library Association (ALA) have been establishing a presence on ALA InfoArts Island in the virtual world of Second Life. After much hard work a Banned Books Week exhibit that mirrors the 2007 pirate theme has been created. It's complete with a “pirates' cove,” pirate ship, seagulls, and the occasional rat scuttling across the docks!
The plans for this event include podcasts, an InfoDesk manned by avatar volunteers, posters, t-shirts, notecards with the history of Banned Books and lists of challenged books, trading cards, guestbooks, and an in-world Read-Out modeled after the Read-Outs libraries across the country are hosting in honor of Banned Books Week. The Alliance Library System located in Southern Illinois offered considerable help in building the virtual event site.
Two screenshots of the site show the wonderful detail that goes into everything that is built in Second Life (SL). ALA plans continued exploration and development in the new paradigm presented by SL, where the growth of libraries and educational institutions is nothing short of explosive. What used to be an expanse of empty water next door to ALA’s plot is now the site of Cleveland Public Library’s virtual counterpart! And there’s more to SL than just a leisure fantasy getaway. Check out the blogs of staff member Donavan Vicha, who wrote about his experiences at the third annual Second Life Community Convention that met in Chicago at the end of August.
What is Second Life?
Second Life is an Internet-based virtual world, where users can select a new identity, known as an "avatar" and live out a fantasy-based life of their dreams.
Users can create their own appearance, dress, join groups, communicate, and interact with other avatars around the world. There are no limits with Second Life: users can fly, teleport from one place to another, die and come back to life.
Second Life is a software program that can be downloaded from Linden Labs for free (you can also apply for a premium account for $9.95/mo). Once installed, it allows a view into a three-dimensional virtual world.
According to Wikipedia, more than 8.9 million accounts have been registered on Second Life, although some are inactive. Some experts believe that Second Life or something like it will eventually replace the World Wide Web. What do you think? Take a look at Second Life and judge for yourself.