Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education and Museums Conference – April 24-25

The second annual Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education, and Museums (VW LEM) Conference will be held in Second Life on Friday and Saturday, April 24 & 25, 2009. The conference will provide a gathering place for librarians, information professionals, educators, museologists, and others to learn about and discuss the educational, informational, and cultural opportunities of virtual worlds.

More information is available here:

In-world Wednesdays: Lois Gresh to Speak on March 25

In-world Wednesdays: Monroe County Library System’s Monthly Author Visit in Second Life

March Visiting Author: Lois Gresh (Bobo Fromund in Second Life)

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 8 pm Eastern Time (5 pm Pacific Time)

Location: The MCLS Amphitheater in Second Life

The Creative Process: Writing for Different Audiences

New York Times Best-Selling Author Lois Gresh, author of 19 books and dozens of short stories, will discuss how to write different types of material for a variety of readers. She’ll read excerpts from some of her novels, short stories, speculative science books, and pop culture books.

For each excerpt, she’ll explain the creative process behind the writing. How does writing a novel differ from writing a short story? Is it more difficult to write humorous stories or dark stories? How does writing fiction differ from writing speculative science books, pop culture books, and other forms of non-fiction? Following her talk, Lois will be happy to answer questions about the creative process, as well as questions about agents, contracts, editors, and other matters related to the business of writing.


Lois H. Gresh is the New York Times Best-Selling Author of 15 pop science/culture books and 4 science fiction novels from John Wiley & Sons, Random House, and St. Martin’s Press. She’s also the author of dozens of short stories. Her books have been translated into many languages and are in print worldwide: Italy, Japan, Spain, Russia, Germany, Portugal, France, Brazil, Thailand, Korea, China, Estonia, England, Canada/French, Finland, Poland, Czech, etc. In addition, they are often featured in the New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Science News, National Geographic, Physics Today, New Scientist, and US News and World Report, as well as by National Public Radio, the BBC, Fox national news, the History Channel, and many other television and radio programs. Lois’ teen novels have been endorsed by the American Library Association and the Voice of Youth Advocates. She has been nominated for national fiction awards six times.

What is Second Life?

Second Life is an online immersive environment, or “virtual world,” which allows people to interact in real time with people from all over the world. Libraries have played an important role in this environment since 2006.

New to Second Life? Here’s How to Get Started

Be sure to set up your user account prior to the event. The process will take about half an hour or so to create an account and download the free software. Doing this a day or two before our event will ensure that you are ready on time and don’t miss the discussion!

To get started, go to this web address:
You will have an option to “teleport” to this address if you already have a Second Life account, or you may click on “Sign up now for free” if you are brand-new to Second Life. You will be prompted to create and account, including your virtual persona, or “avatar.” You will be prompted to download and install the free software, and then you will log in.

On your first trip in to Second Life, there is a very short tutorial which will help you get comfortable with the environment. Once you finish, you will find yourself at the MCLS Amphitheater — the location where our event will take place. The night of the event, click on the above link again and you will be teleported directly to the Amphitheater without going through the tutorial.
Questions? Contact

Game Design and Development: A Rapidly Growing Field

Game Design and Development is huge. It’s a field that is growing now and will continue to grow as gaming environments become more ubiquitous.

The Association for Women in Computing Upstate New York Chapter is sponsoring a talk on gaming technology and related career opportunities at Rochester Institute of Technology on Thursday, January 22.

Come learn about the fast growing Gaming Industry and the opportunities and technology involved. Presented by Andy Phelps, Director of Computing & Information Sciences for RIT. Bring your entire family – this one if for all ages!

Date: Thursday, January 22, 2009
Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Location: RIT Building 70, Room 2400
Street: One Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623
Fee: $10 for AWC members, $15 for non-members – Includes a light dinner

Contact Email:

Stepping into Science: Education in Virtual Worlds

Here is a press release sent by John S. Howard about an event that takes place next week:

“Stepping into Science” Next in Popular “Stepping into Virtual Worlds” Series

Using virtual worlds to teach and promote a love of science is the topic of the next installment of the popular “Stepping into Virtual Worlds” conference series, to be offered January 16th, 2009 in the virtual world of Second Life. Hundreds of people have attended this series, which began with “Stepping into History” in June and has included conferences focusing on literature and on healthcare. The series is sponsored by Alliance Library System and LearningTimes. The day-long conference is open to the public, with more information available at It will take place entirely in the virtual world of Second Life.

“Many believe that the next step for the Internet is going 3-D” notes John Howard, conference director. “These workshops are intended to give people a glimpse into the possibilities available when people can actually “step into” the web, rather than just reading about it.”

During this conference, participants will make virtual “field trips” to some of the best and most creative locations in Second Life that are using virtual worlds to promote science. During these field trips, they may be able to speak with those responsible for creating the simulations, and have time to explore them on their own. One field trip for this conference is Genome Island, a simulation where visitors can learn about genetics in various ways including actually entering a giant cell. Another will allow participants to experience a life-size tsunami as it crashes ashore, destroying all the buildings on the beach.

Some other features of this conference will include:

· A keynote presentation by Troy McConaghy. Troy’s educational background is in physics, applied mathematics, space exploration, and astrodynamics. He’s been involved with science-related projects in Second Life for over three years and was a founding member of the SciLands, Second Life’s science-themed continent.

· Breakout sessions presented by scientists using virtual worlds for collaborative work, and teachers using virtual worlds as a teaching tool.

· A panel discussion, allowing participants to question and interact with a variety of experts in the use of virtual worlds in the promotion of science.

“Second Life is a great communications tool for scientists and science educators,” according to Troy McConaghy, keynote speaker, “because it combines audio, video, 3D models, simulations, and real-time interaction under one immersive interface. It’s changing the way science is advanced and taught. This conference will give you a glimpse at the cutting edge of this new technology.”

Those participating in the conference will also be invited to be part of a live audience for “Science Friday,” the popular NPR radio show that is hosted in Second Life and broadcast live to radio stations across the United States.

The participants at a virtual world conference participate from their own computer, while an ‘avatar,’ or virtual representative of them, navigates through the 3-D environments and interacts with other avatars. Howard points out, however, that there is nothing virtual about the interactions at these conferences. “Behind every avatar is a person” he says. “And the networking and learning that can happen, with people from all over the world, is very real.”

Alliance Library System, co-sponsor of the “Stepping Into” series, is a multi-type library system headquartered in East Peoria, Illinois. Alliance has been a leader in developing ways for libraries to expand their missions and serve patrons in virtual worlds. Alliance is on the web at

LearningTimes, is the leading producer of online communities and online conferences for education and training. Their clients and partners include educational and cultural institutions, non-profit organizations, associations and membership groups. LearningTimes provides the training, platforms, applications and expertise these organizations need to make their conferences a success. More information about LearningTimes can be found at

The cost for this day-long conference is $65, and participants may register for the conference at

RIT’s Virtual Ribbon Cutting

I attended Rochester Institute of Technology’s “official” launch of it’s virtual island in Second Life yesterday. It was a well-attended event: about 40 avatars were at RIT Island when I logged in and RIT staff members said there were a lot of Real Life visitors as well.

RIT has been using Second Life as another vehicle for its online education component, with much of the build being created by students. It’s expanded since my first trip there last May and will continue to grow with plenty of 3D models of student projects in areas like economics and mathematics.

They not only have excellent resources, but also dedicated staff and enthusiastic students.  Expect big things to come out of this project.

Program for the Future Conference

Here’s another event worth noting:

The Program for the Future Conference is “An Invitation to Innovation. An interactive conference inspired by Doug Engelbart’s vision of harnessing technology for human betterment. “

The conference takes place Monday (12/08/08) at The Tech Museum of Innovation and Adobe Headquarters in San Jose, and then on Tuesday (12/09/08) at Stanford University. And for those of us who are not on the West Coast, we can attend both days in Second Life. Register now before all the FREE virtual tickets are taken!

Featured speakers include

    • Professor Thomas Malone, Founding Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
    • Professor Hiroshi Ishii, Associate Director, MIT Media Laboratory
    • Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google
    • Andries van Dam, Professor, Brown University
    • Alan Kay, President, Viewpoints Research Institute
    • Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer, Inc.

Plus an impressive list of other speakers that is essentially a “Who’s Who in Computing.”

This should be an extremely valuable two days for anyone interested in where technology is heading. I’ve got my virtual ticket and my avatar, Rebekah Cavan, and I will be there both days.

She’s Geeky: A Technology Conference for Women

Will you be in the New York City area this weekend? Make a point of getting yourself to She’s Geeky.

The cocktail party begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. and the unconference runs through Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Here’s the blurb I received from Renee Lloyd. It looks like this will be a great opportunity to connect with other geeky women and share some ideas, do some networking, and have some fun!

“She’s Geeky is a neutral, face-to-face forum for women who like to geek out about all kinds of things: computers, science, math, design, robotics, web 2.0 etc.

The purpose is to bring women from a diversity of technical sectors together to:
1. Exchange skills and learn from women in different fields of technology
2. Discuss issues that affect women in the technology industry
3. Connect with other women in technology, computing, entrepreneurship, funding, hardware, open source, nonprofit and any other technical geeky field
4. Build cross generational relationships.

Two up-coming events:

EAST COAST: New York City – December 5-7 (with the 6th being the main day)

WEST COAST: Mountain View – January 29-31

Unconferences are a great way to exchange and learn from one another and this is how they work.

At the beginning of the day, we create the agenda. Everyone meets in one room and posts topics they would like to present, see or discuss. This creates a rich assortment of agenda items and makes for an exciting day of learning.

From there, we go to separate areas or rooms assigned to each topic. The session can be a presentation, inquiry about a question or discussion about an issue or technical field. or. One participant volunteers to record the proceedings.

The notes from each session are collected in the newsroom, then a book is compiled with all the notes from the conference and distributed to everyone who attended.

When you come to She’s Geeky, you benefit from the opportunity to:
1. Build relationships and even partnerships across disciplines.
2. Learn something new from other geeky women.
3. Find answers to the questions that matter to you.
4. Consider business issues related to the technology industry.
5. Be exposed to new ideas for making and keeping technology relevant.”

Set Your Mind on Fire! The Big Read Goes Virtual

The Big Read comes to Cybrary City II on Wednesday, May 14 at 5:00 pm (SLT). Join us as Rebekah Cavan leads a lively discussion of Fahrenheit 451, censorship and the value of books at The Monroe County Library System Amphitheater in Second Life.

The discussion starts at 5:00 pm SLT, but get there early to save your favorite books from the bonfire before it’s too late!


One Big Library

This came in my email today:

Announcing the One Big Library Unconference


When: Friday 27 June 2008, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Where: The Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It seems like there are lot of different kinds of libraries:
public libraries, school libraries, university libraries, college
libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, corporate libraries,
special libraries, private libraries. But really there’s just One Big
Library, with branches all over the world.

The One Big Library Unconference is a one-day gathering of
librarians, technologists, and other interested people, talking about
the present and future of libraries.

It’s organized and sponsored by York University Libraries and
members of the YUL Emerging Technologies Interest Group: Stacy Allison-
Cassin, William Denton, and John Dupuis.

In an interconnected world, all physical and virtual libraries can
really be thought of as branches of One Big Library. We would like to
get together and explore that concept. Areas of interest:

* The future of libraries
* Collaboration on building One Big Library collections and
* Uses of social software in libraries
* Tools to support and extend the One Big Library

Our goals are:

* Bringing people interested in the future of libraries
together with the hope of sparking collaboration and cooperation
* Starting conversations between people in different kinds of
libraries, and people inside and outside libraries

Beyond Print: Presentation December 4

On Tuesday, December 4th Dana Paxson and I will be giving a presentation for the Rochester Speculative Literature Writers Association on the future of fiction. We will be discussing emerging technology and it’s impact on writers. Dana will demonstrate his Electronic Literary Macrame, I will give a tour of Second Life, and we will both discuss how writers can take advantage of social networking tools to promote their writing.

R-Spec meets the first Tuesday of every month at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford Plaza, in Pittsford, New York at 7 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public. Anyone with an interest in speculative fiction is welcome to join us.

Rob Sawyer: Visit Recap

We had a wonderful visit from author Robert J. Sawyer last night at the Science Fiction Library in Second Life. His avatar, SF Writer, chatted with us for close to two hours about a number of interesting topics including his newest book, Rollback.

Rob is always a pleasure to listen to (or in this case, to read the chat log) as he is not only very knowledgeable, but also very amiable. He greeted every person who wandered into the discussion and he answered every question, despite being asked multiple questions at once in an environment where one has to be reading and typing quickly to keep up with the conversation. Rob talked about his books and the science behind them, which was indeed fascinating.

Rob will be going to China to receive an award and his publishing company, Robert J. Sawyer Books is receiving some recognition these days for publishing a new author, Nick DiChario, who’s first novel, A Small and Remarkable Life, has been nominated for the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. I hope to have Nick join us for an online book discussion and author visit in the near future.

I am looking forward to having Rob back again. There is some talk about hosting some science panels at the Portal and I know I want to get Rob back for those. Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate streaming voice.

Real Life Author to Visit Second Life!

Robert J. Sawyer will be visiting the Talis SciFi & Fantasy Portal, which is a library of science fiction and fantasy in Second Life. His newest book, Rollback, is the selection for this month’s book discussion, and we are delighted that the author will join us for this event with the help of his avatar, SF Writer. The event will take place at the outdoor auditorium on Info Island at 6:30 pm SLT (Pacific Time).

If you haven’t heard, Second Life is a virtual world that you join online. You create an avatar (online persona) and interact in real-time with other members of the virtual world. The world is created by its inhabitants. Info Island is a small part of this world, where librarians and educators are working to bring real life services to people all over the world.

For more information on Rollback:

SLA Seminar

As expected, Stephen Abram’s talk today was informative and stimulating. He’s an extremely dynamic speaker and a guy who has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in libraries, sciences, and society in general. He’s very sharp, quite good at predicting trends, knows where his research needs to be, and has a great sense of humor.

Here are a couple of the interesting pieces from my notes…

An important statistic to keep in mind: 80% of librarians are text-based learners; 20% of the general population are text-based learners. What does this mean? Rethink your website, for one thing. Convey information with images. An example provided: take a look at USA Today’s (printed) weather page. What’s more useful? The long list of cities and their temperatures? Or the map that shows where it’s hot or cold based on color? Can your patrons find the information you’re providing with a quick glance? Or do they need to read long paragraphs to find it? Visual constructs are powerful.

Another key take-away: Google is very good at finding facts. But the How and Why questions require human interaction. The “Purple Cow” of the library is it’s people and the personal relationships one builds with it’s users. Information is easy to obtain. Use the library to support learning.

Take the time to research user needs. They are not the same as librarian needs.

Millenials differ from their parents’ cohort. On average, their IQ is 20 points higher than the average Boomer IQ. Do not expect their needs to be anything like yours. They seek information differently and use it differently. They’ve been taught to work in groups to solve problems, rather than to memorize facts and take a test.  They’re skeptical. They also have no problem asking questions — not only will they walk up to a librarian and state their needs, they also fully expect to engage in online interaction with politicians before deciding how they will vote. In other words, they know what they want and are assertive about getting it.

Lastly, for both fun and customer service, get yourself and your co-workers some librarian trading cards! They’re fun to share with colleagues, but they’re also a useful tool to hand out to patrons. Let them get to know you on a personal level by listing your hobbies, interests, and special knowledge you might have. Creating community is important, and this is a fun way to do it. (See examples of what others are doing here.)

There was a LOT more to this conference, but it’s late so I’ve only pulled out a few of the highlights. More info coming. Stay tuned…

: )

SLA Dinner

I attended a pre-conference dinner tonight at the Rochester Hyatt. Tomorrow the Special Libraries Association will present a talk given by Stephen Abram on Library 2.0. I heard him speak last October and my entire outlook on my job as library IT person was changed. I’m very excited about the direction libraries are headed.

Tonight’s dinner was terrific — really good food and great conversation with people I have not met before. As a public library employee, I enjoyed the opportunity to hear about the special libraries — science, academic, government, etc. — and to hear what goes on there.

Our guest of honor arrived late, due to plane issues in Pittsburgh. He arrived just as I was getting ready to leave so I stayed a bit longer. A handful of us had a glass of wine and an informal chat. We talked quite a bit about Second Life. One of the issues I’ve been grappling with is how to decide on what information my SL library will provide. Obviously, I can’t duplicate our real life library. That would be monumental and would also be unnecessary. Stephen didn’t give me the answer. What he did was give me what I needed to make that decision. His statement created one of those “Aha!” moments with it’s simplicity: Do one thing, and do it very well.

Of course I knew this. But like so many things, I had to hear it to realize I knew it.