Library and Archives at NASA CoLab in Second LIfe
by 01archivist on May 29, 2010
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Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds (FCVW conference poster, National Defense University, Washington DC)
The Neil A. Armstrong Library and Archives at NASA CoLab is the first virtual world library or archive recognized by the Library of Congress of the United States of America (ID #38392, MARC Code CaPsLAN). Its mission is to house and make available records and other documentation relating to NASA and NASA CoLab in SL. It also aims to be among the first and best repositories to use virtual world technology for enhancing the understanding of the history of science, technology and medicine by incorporating both primary and secondary source materials relating specifically to the history of aeronautics and astronautics as well as NASA’s intersections of other fields such as medicine and engineering.
Major collections include the history of women, African-Americans, and the working class in aeronautical and astronautical history, as well as the histories of Apollo 11 and Space Medicine. It covers major events and well-known figures, but the majority of the displays are designed to appeal to women and minorities. The section on female pilots—such as Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman (first African American pilot), Helene Dutrieu (first woman to pilot a seaplane), Harriet Quimby (first woman to fly across the English Channel), and female space pioneers like the Mercury 13, Valentina Tereshkova, and Sally Ride—is exceptionally popular. So too is the exhibit Women Working at NASA from 1943-1964, including the now famous “human computers,” and Female Aviation Employees working for organizations such as the U.S. Navy, Consolidated Aircraft, North American Aviation, Inc., and Douglas Aircraft Company. Displays include digitized, born digital, and born virtual materials. Some items were donated or created specifically for this project, including: a photo of pilot Patty Wagstaff and a replica of her flight suit, a photo of James D. Watson, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, an original oral history interview with a Tuskegee Airman. There are 3D replicas that play historic sound recordings when touched such as Sputnik’s beeps and a replica of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 space suit that says, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
This interactive and educational project meets requisite professional library, archival, and historical standards, and achieved tangible, compelling results outside SL via the Library of Congress, the Nobel Prize Foundation, CNN, Spaceport America. It received praise by professional librarians/archivists at renowned institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and the Smithsonian. As the Director I composed the leadership and mission statements, supervised and coordinated library volunteers, provided library/archival reference and outreach expertise, applied my knowledge of digital library standards for description, access, delivery and preservation, as well provided virtual world versions of NASA educational materials and historical publications, astronaut Twitter pages, and links to NASA web sites and NASA TV. Additionally, I lectured, published, gave tours to faculty members and visiting student groups from various institutions in the US and abroad, hosted public SL events, and monitored and communicated qualitative and quantitative feedback for the continued justification of the project.
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