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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Some days, you just don't want to get out of your jammies.

The friendly staff of the campus libraries knows this, and it's doing something creative to help serve you, the student, better. It's in the process of building a new library located at the coordinates 94, 28, 24 in Cybrary City.

The new UF library only exists in the virtual networking tool known as Second Life.

Second Life is a 3-D simulated world created by Linden Lab. Real people using customizable avatars can convert actual U.S. currency to Second Life currency (Linden Dollars), network with other users and enjoy all that an alternative virtual life has to offer.

Second Life looks like World of Warcraft but is set in a surreal modern day, and there are no quests, no objectives and no real purposes except the ones the user sets for him or herself.

Second Life has been steadily growing since its 2003 release. As of February, its gross domestic product was an astounding ,220 million, according to CNNMoney.com.

A team of three librarians has been heading an initiative to start a virtual library in Second Life, and it's not alone. Other universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Brown, all have a presence in Second Life, and many of them are already holding virtual classes. Naturally, it's time for UF to join in on the fun.

But how will Second Life make real-life research easier for you and me?

Laura Woodruff, instruction and reference librarian on campus and one of three driving forces behind UF in Second Life, wants to explore the possibilities.

"We're still trying to decide exactly what to use it for," she said.

Woodruff, along with physical sciences librarian Sara Gonzalez and digital projects technology librarian Laurie Taylor, already has some definite uses in mind: an interlibrarian conferencing system, a virtual reference desk and a place for students to meet and socialize. What else the Second Life project could grow to become remains to be seen.

"We would love to see students give us their ideas," Woodruff said. "Student volunteers are something we could definitely use."

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Ultimately, those who use the libraries will be at the helm of what happens to this experiment in virtual learning. Graphic designers, computer code writers and anybody willing to give their time and creative feedback are just what the team wants.

In the future, there could be virtual museums for student art, an entire replication of Library West, or even E-learning classes held entirely in Second Life.

For now, the project is in its infant stages. But if it takes off, the possibilities are endless: In fact, The American Library Association, which makes its virtual home across the street from UF's library, has a pirate ship on its property.

One day, maybe a virtual Albert and Alberta can assist you with your library needs.

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