Students build 3-D virtual world of resources in Warner Library

Through Federal Work Study, Warner Library is offering paid positions to build a virtual world of resources.

After a few years of planning, the Virtual Bibliographic Instruction Project has begun at Eastern.

VBI is a 3-D website where electronic resources from Warner Library, other libraries and websites can be accessed by students. Several high schools and universities around the world are linked into the VBI world using the Activeworlds Education Universe program.

“The most important thing [VBI] will do is to communicate with thousands of other libraries while still maintaining the library environment through the interactive world,” senior Mandi Dorrell, a student builder, said.

Essentially, VBI world is a large virtual library of resources on anything you could imagine. A virtual tour shows the resources available with easy navigation through a virtual map. Users learn how to use the databases and can even have real-time chat with someone at the virtual reference desk for assistance.

The objective is to provide information regarding resources and research databases in a 3-D virtual environment. There are also chat rooms and forums linking students based on their interests and the available resources.

Not only can students get the resources they need to find the information that they want, but they can do so within a world-wide social outlet. Mark Puterbaugh, computer specialist in Warner has even had conversation with a student from the Netherlands through VBI.

Any student can log into the program, and Puterbaugh wants everyone to log on and get involved.

However, only those given log-in access to build, whether they are employed or volunteers, can actually build resources. Along with Dorrell and Puterbaugh, first-year Fred Cheriscat and sophmore Amanda Kirchgessner are creating the virtual world.

“All the students currently building are creating theme-related structures. Inside the structures will be information and links to websites related to that subject,” Puterbaugh said.

Cheriscat has constructed a building of resources specific to sports. Dorrell has one concerning Muslim and Jewish studies.

“By taking part in this project, you are helping to build the foundation for the future of all information sources,” Dorrell said. “It’s a small step for a big change.” Puterbaugh is still looking for students to log on and is allowing an unlimited number of builders through FWS and volunteering. He would like the world to keep expanding, he said.

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