British Library plans Second Life branch

July 27, 2007

One of academe's most venerable institutions may be taking the plunge into the virtual world.

The British Library is considering setting up a presence on Second Life, the virtual world built by its cyberspace inhabitants.

The library, which already has an area on social networking site FaceBook, could have a version of itself on Second Life by the spring of next year.

Adrian Arthur, head of web services at the British Library, said the library was considering what form its virtual version might take, the skills needed to create it and what Second Life's users might want from it.

He said the library was more likely to put its galleries than its book collections on Second Life. Mr Arthur said: "It would be great to offer a complete virtual library but I am not sure that is feasible in the near future."

He said that people were increasingly using Second Life to access information, so the library could provide something useful for them. He added that developments such as blogs, podcasts and spaces such as Second Life and FaceBook were "potential opportunities" for the library and there was also a need to "stay relevant" to the people using them.

However, Mr Arthur did not think that the library was under threat from online resources. "Our web usage is going up and seems to be outstripping the general growth in web - and our reading rooms seem pretty full," he said.

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