The current fascination with “retro” can create new interest in an idea or style from the recent past.
With the shift to everything mobile, we can re-introduce the evergreen mobile library into new environments such as Second Life. This can be done in a visual form that would induce waves of nostalgia in the purple rinse CWA* set and a snigger from others who see the pun.
But would such a move be practical?
Many libraries have created massive free-standing structures, ghettoing themselves on an archipelago of Information Islands and creating events with authors and celebrities to attract visitors.
In this mobile age, the edifice may have had its day – particularly for the type of Second Life applications educational institutions have in mind. If students are participating in an activity – for example training to serve customers in a shop – they don’t want to teleport to a library on another corner of the island just to look something up. We should be aware of what is being taught in the virtual world and have everything already loaded up before we park ourselves at the edge of the class, offering access to exciting relevant resources.
The most common mode of presenting information is the good old noticeboard with embedded links, which open up in other windows, leaving the student cognizant of the classroom activities.
To best add value, this may be all we need. Simply upload the information and have it accessible somewhere in view. And if a library staff member is available to assist, all the better.
The key to all of this though is the availability of good PCs and decent bandwidth. The 512 MB RAM machines which are still floating around just won’t do the trick. Seamless access demands appropriate technology, otherwise there’s no point in even trying.
*Country Women’s Association