Why a Second Life Library?
While most visitors might not be aware, the Library at the End of the Universe and most of it's exhibits represent something I found enjoyment or focus on in my own life. When I was in elementary school, high school, and as a young adult I spent a lot of time in a library visiting a family member or just finding the beginning of trails of information into many different directions. It was at the Saint Martins Library in Lacey, WA where I studied the book Special Effects: The History and Technique by Richard Rickitt and memorized some of the examples to where I could demonstrate them later with far less budget than those who pioneered the effects. It was in a small library near Leesville, LA where I first picked up and read the books involving characters created by Stan Lee and a school library in San Antonio, TX where I first read about the Golden Age of Universal Movie Monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man. I read a lot of fiction until my early 20s where my focus shifted towards training and technical manuals, biographies, history, how-to books to include one or two on soap making, and RPG manuals of different kinds. I found libraries to be comfortable places and spent much time appreciating the books and time spent by the workers maintaining it all for the public and students.
Having served in the military and grown up on and around U.S. military bases within a multiracial family, world languages and cultures is a lifelong topic of understanding humanity and that is why you will find many non-English works throughout the library. The diversity of languages and points of view presented under hundreds of book titles represent the writers of the planet Earth and not just from the English speaking areas.
The Planetarium and focus towards showcasing old Government training films involving primarily technical information about nuclear war or radar has to do with my focus while in the U.S. military. Firefighters wound up being security guards, food delivery, and punching bags for the U.S. military and defense contract corporations at their leisure so by strange circumstances I once guarded the U.S. Space Mission as a security professional.
While I was already a 'space nerd' but lacking in math ability, being able to put other skill sets into either the security, emergency services protection, or promotion of the exploration of space tends to be something I have enjoyed although the first two are majorly stressful while the third makes me understand personalities like Bill Nye and their personal drive to tell everyone about the nature of the universe around them without having a entire list of degrees in order to participate in full time NASA and other organizational operations.
The Library at the End of the Universe is also designed as a safe space for visitors and it's run by the most unforgiving sort of former federally affiliated person. If any person is harassed or otherwise bothered by unprofessional conduct at my parcel, the person breaking my stated rules is banned for life and depending on their messages to the receiver that would make the complaint to volunteers, reported to Linden Labs. The purpose of the Library is to learn, trolls can use Twitter.
The Underwater Exhibit Area beneath the Library and Theater showcases my connection with the water and represents some of the places which I have seen in real life. The Reef Shark swimming beneath the Underwater Observation Building reminds me slightly of living on Johnston Atoll, a small island in the middle of the Pacific that I worked on in 2002. I had the fright and enjoyment of swimming with reef sharks then. The stingray near the Helgoland exhibit reminds me of swimming and examining the creatures in 2007 at Stingray City in Antigua. The tropical fish and other aquatic wildlife remind me of living off different coasts from the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the shores of Puget Sound. I'm a member of the Nisqually Reach Wildlife Center and frequent visitor to the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Preserve near Olympia, WA. The information inside of the Underwater Observation Building reflects my enjoyment of public education presented at real world nature education centers.
Having been a PADI Open Water recreational diver since I was a teenager I wanted visitors who have not had any such experiences at SCUBA diving or interacting with aquatic life to be able to have a slight view in a simulated environment of what that might be like although like many things simulated environments are a poor substitute for the real experience but is however far less dangerous.
The DSRV Avalon reflects my fascination with operational ability in the underwater world while the Helgoland showcases my excitement for underwater exploration and wanting to one day be certified as an Aquanaut. The two vehicle models also demonstrate modern concepts of underwater rescue and scientific data collection.
The Theater at the End of the Universe playing films reflects one of my earliest jobs working at a movie theater while in High School. The content of the films while dated is heavily technical and leans towards U.S. Government technology or public safety education which reflects my having worked around U.S. Government technology as well as assisted in public safety education while working as a firefighter and security specialist years ago.
The secondary function of the Theater is the hosting of public speaking events which is something that I have had experience with also having appeared at public Sci-Fi conventions from 2013 to late 2017 while speaking about myself or interviewing a hand full of professional actors for their fans. I had also before September 11th, 2001 been a DJ and participated in amateur community theater so had a great deal of experience to draw from in regards to the design and function of putting together a small theater and events stage on Second Life.
Even the blue flight suits worn by the Library volunteers represent something more common at a flightline than traditional library.
The design of the Library is very much Sci-Fi themed with buildings created by others with some being re-modified to fit the Library theme. While the first Library at the End of the Universe was spread over multiple parcels and required a lot of teleport boards to navigate, the newest Library build requires only one real local teleport to travel to and from the Planetarium.
The 1/8th SIM build while smaller than the original Library is more accessible to visitors and possibly far less troublesome to move around. It also has fit all of the technology exhibits well to the point no expansion is required but if for some reason I do go up to 1/4th SIM build a re-introduction of the Sci-Fi Museum and HUB concept in a condensed and effective way much as I was able to scale down the Library at the End of the Universe between the first and second events.
Overall the Library at the End of the Universe is a good way to spend time while being somewhat isolated from the surrounding society while in Western Washington. It's something very similar to having a sand garden or highly complex etch-e-sketch and nothing I build on Second Life will ever be permanent. The books which I have introduced however to the public over the years on Second Life may outlast my time on there and be copied and distributed endlessly throughout the years.
Joshua S. Johnson