Friday, July 31, 2009

Virtual Archives @ Stanford University Library

Mattie Taormina, Head of Public Service & Processing Manuscripts Librarian for
Stanford University’s Special Collections and University Archives hosted a virtual “Open House” in Second Life (SL) on Friday morning, 7-31-09. Avatars "dropped in" for an overview of Stanford's new Virtual Archives.

Now scholars (and anyone) can visit Stanford's closed stacks and browse manuscript collections—this option is not allowed in real life, so it opens the small collection to the world. According to Mattie, "Patrons can open virtual Hollinger boxes and a sampling of scanned documents from the real life box will appear along with a link to that collection’s online finding aid. They can then post their reference questions on the bulletin board which sends email to our Special Collections staff. Stanford's Virtual Archive provides access to patrons around the world without endangering the collection."

Second Life (SL) is an online world where visitors create avatars (representations of themselves), explore places like Stanford and other libraries, and interact with others from in real time. Today's tour brought together visitors (avatars) from across the country. See the above snapshot of the visitors to Stanford Virtual Archives and my avatar below, looking at an archival photo. Reference in SL occurs through in-world text and voice chat as well as our reference bulletin board. SL coordinates for Stanford Virtual Archives = 85/224/33.

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