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A Cat-Lover Brings her Love to Second Life

By BOOKIE BALOGH

 

According to Lorelei Junot, Project Manager for the Alliance Virtual Library, “Our Volunteer of the Month, Katfancy Kiergarten, has an unusual history of service to Second Life and its residents.”

 

katfancyKatfancy became involved with Second Life, as many of us did, to chat and “hang out with friends.”  But about a year ago, she became a volunteer for the Rainbow Gardens Pet Memorial Center.   Not only had she owned pets in real life, - and heard that Dulcie Mills, the owner of Rainbow Gardens, had contacted Marimar Berchot, AVL Volunteer Coordinator, looking for volunteers – but more importantly, she had lost two pets in real life.  The concept of the Rainbow Gardens, where people can come and remember their pets, was compelling to her.

 

She began her outreach campaign by contacting other pet owners and telling them about Rainbow Gardens.  She used group search to find groups with similar interests, by searching for common animal names.  She would then look at the group owner’s profile and send him or her an IM with information about the Rainbow Gardens Pet Memorial Center.  One of the first places she visited in Second Life was the Canis Beach Dog Park, where she met others who were interested in pets.

 

According to Kat, “As more people knew about our group, I helped plan events by making poster invitations as well as sending out group notices about upcoming events.”  She has helped to create exhibits at Rainbow Gardens, among them the “Homeless Pet Exhibit” and also the “ASPCA Exhibit” to help prevent animal abuse. 

 

Visitors to Rainbow Gardens, especially those with pets, are equally touched by the ability to display real life pictures of their pets in the sim’s photo viewer.

 

In real life, Kiergarten is also a volunteer.  She has done volunteering at a local animanl shelter, complementing nicely her volunteer work for Rainbow Gardens.       In Second Life, she enjoys being around the reference desk and helping people with their questions.  She says that the reference desk was one of the first areas she visited in Second Life; she received much help and met many congenial residents, both when she was a newbie and now.

 

Kiergarten is a full-time student and part-time substitute teacher in real life.  She is taking prerequisite courses in order to enroll in a nursing program; once she’s completed that program, she is also interested in librarianship.

 

She welcomes meeting new people in Second Life and encourages residents to IM her at any time.  Rainbow Gardens is truly lucky to have such an energetic and dedicated volunteer.  Mills said, ”Kat is always very helpful and involved in many AVL events and activities.  As a volunteer for Rainbow Gardens, she does a wonderful job with displays, exhibits, and program planning . . . .  Kat is one of three volunteers who assist at Rainbow Gardens along with Panama Marama and Miraanda Singh.  While they all do a fantastic job, Kat puts special pride in putting up seasonal decorations and making the pet memorial center a special place to visit all year round.  She contributes to all the exhibits and events and is always friendly and helpful to work with.  I am very glad to have her with us.”

 

 



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She Never Stops Working

Text and photo by BOOKIE BALOGH

piPi Illios, Volunteer of the Month for April 2009, has made her mark throughout the Information Archipelago.  Assisting Marimar Berchot at the Spanish Center has kept her busy, but not so busy that she hasn’t become involved in multiple other activities, both in Second Life and in real life.  Among other things, she has

• Assisted in coordinating and hostessing several concerts and parties at Mi Pueblo.
• Created displays for Christmas at Mi Pueblo.
• Created displays for the exhibits from Spain at the Spanish Center.
• Created art and learning exhibit from Puerto Rico at the Spanish Center.
• Photographed AVL volunteers so that we can post pictures in the Orientation area.
• Helped with group invitations at Info Island.

A native of Puerto Rico, Illios became involved with Second Life in the course of doing work for the University of Puerto Rico graduate school of library and information science (Escuela Graduada de Ciencias y Tecnologias de la Informacion, or EGCTI).  As part of this exploration, together with her colleagues Illios initiated a Second Life Community of Practice for Puerto Rican librarians.  The eleven-campus system takes advantage of this community of practice to allow librarians to work and learn together, using the tools available to them in Second Life.

Illios also works with faculty at the EGCTI, assisting with Second Life skills and information competencies.  One example is a research methods course which is taught in part in Second Life.  Illios recalls with laughter that the students met in a tree at the Spanish Center.

With her colleagues, Illios is working on the Spanish Center so that it will eventually have a learning commons environment, provide tutorials in Spanish, and offer a place where students, librarians and library faculty can chat, relax and have a cup of coffee.

As a newbie in Second Life, Illios immediately discovered the Info Island as a place to learn.  She met Marimar Berchot soon, and they began to work on a space for Hispanic librarians.  As she says, she began to learn a lot, made friends, and grew as a professional.  At Mi Pueblo, she works with Berchot on this effort to establish a place where Hispanics can feel at home.  “We try to bring the culture and works of this population – our roots – to a place where they can meet and learn.”

As a virtual reference librarian at UPR, Illios is up early in the morning, sorting through and answering reference and research questions.  She works with faculty at the UPR medical center, and is deeply involved in introducing them to the characteristics and advantages of teaching and learning in a virtual environment.  She would like UPR to have its own sim, and says that it simply takes persuading some deans of its value – an experience that many of us are familiar with!

In real life, Illios has a wonderful family – a supportive husband, a college-age daughter who wants to become a museum curator, and a dog named Bebebru.  In her spare time, she enjoys dining out and shopping.

Second Life is a significant part of her life; she wants other Second Life librarians to know that “librarians are welcome to come here, and to use the place in any way it suits their professional needs.”

Congratulations, Pi!

 



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Boring and Creepy? No Problem!
by HOLLYJEAN ALLEN

1208_hollyjeans_column_1Recently an insipid article titled “The End of Second Life” made the rounds.  It raised a lot of ire and disgust.  One quote hit home for me, “Second Life is “boring and creepy for most people!”

Well, I guess boring is as boring does.  For my part, SL is a wondrous place filled with people who have great hearts, loving souls, quick wits, tremendous brains, clever humor and boundless imagination. 

Second Life is a kind of a misnomer.  The very name implies that we somehow leave our real life and go into a sort of trance-like state of unreality.  That we can magically leave ourselves behind and become someone else.  Okay, we do all look like we are twenty four years old.  However, I am completely convinced that the people we meet in SL are authentic, very authentic.  

Second Life offers us the chance to shed many of the things that hold us back in real life.  Physical appearance being number one.  We are convinced that we will be rejected because we are overweight, bald, or have beady little eyes, or large feet or breasts that are too small.  In SL what we dislike about our appearance is gone.  Those barriers to how we perceive our acceptance have been eliminated.  

We are no longer a “just” --  Just a housewife, just a truck driver, just a brain surgeon, just a rocket scientist, and so on.  Those things that you feel make you inadequate are removed.  Don’t earn enough money, who cares!  Live on the wrong side of the tracks, it doesn’t matter!  

What does matter is who you really, truly are.  And this is almost impossible to hide.  SL makes it very easy to be a good judge of character, because our character is all we have to project to one another.  Mean spirited comments reveal the mean spirited person.  The naysayer in SL is the negative person in real life.  The liars lie everywhere they go.  

But the warm comments are from those who care.  The praise they give is real.  The offers to help are sincere.  The kind hearted folks shine like stars!  Selfless concern is impossible to fake.  

I have met very few folks in SL that I didn’t like.  Most have been kind, caring, smart, funny, interested and interesting.  Almost everyone has been eager to help, willing to share, and genuinely friendly.  The warmth and acceptance is often overwhelming.  

If all of this makes me boring and creepy, fine!  But it also makes me liked, loved and accepted.


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RL Librarian Spotlight – Debbi Duncan (Honoria Paine in SL)

text and photo by STF HONI

Honoria400x300This month’s Real Life Librarian Spotlight is on Debbi Duncan, or Honoria Paine in Second Life. Duncan is a Technical Services and Library Systems Librarian for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. One of the first academic librarians in Second Life, Duncan works full time as an Immersive Learning Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing. In April 2007, Duncan was introduced to Second Life by a close friend who also happened to be a librarian and a gamer. She says that after going in-world together and exploring the various aspects that SL has to offer, she was hooked. She loves the Victorian era and quickly found the library at Independent States of Caledon and worked to develop collections under J.J. Drinkwater at the Whitehorn Memorial Library. Duncan started working for the College of Nursing in December 2007, developing the sim while simultaneously holding her position as a Technical Services and Library Systems Librarian. In May 2008, the idea of having the position turn full-time came into fruition and funding from the College of Nursing allowed Duncan to work exclusively in Second Life beginning August 1, 2008.

As an Immersive Learning Coordinator in Second Life, Duncan manages four islands on the College of Nursing Sim. Students of the nursing program come from all over the country and do not physically attend classes. It is an intensive one year program and being able to put a “face” or “voice” to a name is a positive experience for the students. In terms of adapting to Second Life, the biggest challenge has been the technological requirement; the students must have the proper equipment to enter and utilize SL. To assist students, Duncan has developed an orientation course in real life and Second Life. The-four hour long orientation course teaches students the essential skills of maneuvering through SL so that they can participate in classes. Seeing students in-world and hearing their commentary and completing individual builds required to support the curriculum are the most rewarding aspects of Duncan’s work. Other challenges that Duncan mentions are “coming to speed” with nursing topics and procedures (as she is not a registered nurse) and developing creative learning tools for projects but she is able to overcome these challenges by researching and studying. Duncan spends her day “researching, building, sim maintenance, developing interactive objects, attending and speaking at conferences about [their] projects both in-world and in real life.” Faculty members conduct their own classes in-world and Duncan is available to assist students and faculty with any issues.

The four islands Duncan manages for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing are Techne I and II and OshCon I and II. OshCon I and II are funded through the college and certain areas are closed to the public. Techne I and II are funded through grants and open to the public. There are many exciting interactive environments that Duncan is developing on the islands, including real world situations mimicked and adapted in-world for student participation. Duncan’s passion, innovativeness and hard work have facilitated a great environment for learning and interaction on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing sim.

slurl_icon Wisconsin Tecne



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A Second (and First) Life Well Lived PDF Print E-mail


By LEEORIE ALTER

Photos by VERDE OTAARED


The sims of the Info Archipelago are quieter by one these days.
Dave Mewhinney (RL name) aka Haldin Koba aka Lena Kjeller took leave of us Feb. 13, 2009, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 71 years young.

If you didn’t know he/she was ill, don’t feel bad. It wasn’t often a topic of discussion among his SL friends, and not something he was inclined to bring up himself. Rather, SL was his sanctuary from the burden of his real life ill health, and became increasingly so toward the end.

You may also have been unaware that he had a national reputation as a model train enthusiast, with a web site (http://www.davesrailpix.com/) considered by many in the field a national treasure. It is even used as a reference for college classes.

Mewhinney, retired from a career in broadcast television engineering and broadcast television sales, and his wife of 27 years, Holly Peters (RL name) aka Hollyjean Allen, entered SL in 2007.

Holly was the “early adopter” in the family. She jumped in April. After listening to her rave about Second Life, Dave joined her in world as Haldin in July. Lena joined their SL family three months later.



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