Friday, July 31, 2009

Ball State University Libraries Offer New User Experiences in Second Life

Bracken Library now exists virtually as well as being a brick-and-mortar facility. The University Libraries’ collaboration with the Center for Middletown Studies and the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation has resulted in the creation of Bracken Library in the virtual world of Second Life. Within this virtual world, archivists, historians, and virtual world modelers created the Middletown Studies Library and Archives.

Second Life is an online three-dimensional virtual world where users or “residents” use avatars to interact with one another. Ball State University Libraries Archivists Maren L. Read and Carolyn F. Runyon offer virtual reference services three times a week to support “in-world” researchers.

To chat with Em Ziplon, a.k.a. Archivist for Manuscript Collections Maren Read, visit Bracken Library in Second Life on Mondays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

To chat with Carolyn Runyon, a.k.a. Archivist for Digital Development and University Records, visit Bracken Library in Second Life on Tuesdays, 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The Middletown Studies Collection Library and Archives features exhibits displaying the unique resources available from Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. Based on Robert and Helen Lynd’s sociological study of Muncie, Indiana, conducted in the 1920s, the exhibit features materials that revisit the six areas of life and culture studied by the Lynds:

1. Getting a Living
2. Making a Home
3. Training the Young
4. Using Leisure
5. Engaging in Religious Practices
6. Engaging in Community Activities

Materials exhibited include excerpts from oral histories and photographs, many of which are available from the Digital Media Repository, which is a digital resource available from the University Libraries at Additionally, the collection features the Bracken Library Theater that will play film footage available from Archives and Special Collections, including The Man Haters, a silent movie produced in Muncie, Indiana in 1915.

The new resources and services available from the Middletown Studies Collection Library and Archives in Second Life have been made possible through an Innovative Library Program Grant awarded to the Ball State University Libraries for 2008-2009. This grant is part of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), which is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Indiana State Library.

For more information, contact Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections, or Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records,, 765-285-5078.

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