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Professor Dave Lankes addresses social networking and libraries from within virtual world

The School of Information Studies' Virtual Dave Lankes lived up to his nickname last week when he delivered a presentation on social networking applications from within Second Life, a three-dimensional virtual world built and owned by its residents. The presentation, Participatory Networks: Libraries as Conversation, was based on technology brief written for the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy by Lankes and Professor Joanne Silverstein.

Lankes addressed the role of social networking applications in libraries, arguing that users need to engage in conversation in order to learn effectively. By taking advantage of existing social networking applications or creating new applications specifically for libraries, patrons may eventually play a more active role in the discovery and use of library materials. Lankes used the example of researching the locations of 18th century authors and plotting them on a Google map. Imagine now looking for the overlaps, he said. Who was in the same city at the same time and do their writings reflect this? We take Google Maps, our collections, someone's conversation, and put them together.
More than 60 virtual residents of Second Life attended the presentation, which was held on Information Island, a community of library and information science professionals. The audience used Second Life's chat functions to participate in a discussion of Lankes' presentation, hitting on issues such as the potentially transient nature of technology, the changing format of library catalogs, and the potential of legislation like the Deleting Online Predators Act to limit access to conversational learning in school libraries.
The presentation was sponsored by the ALA Washington Office.
For more information, please view a transcript or watch a video of Lankes' presentation. You can also read the original brief written by Lankes and Silverstein.

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