About Seanchai Library

Seanchai (pr. Shawn-a-kee) - A traditional Irish storyteller/historian.

The Seanchai Library has existed successfully since early 2008 in the virtual world of Second Life presenting  thousands of storytelling events and raised thousands of real US Dollars for numerous charities.

Seanchai began as the West of Ireland Library and Cultural Center, a part of the West of Ireland Charity Estate in Second Life. Despite its names, the program has never exclusively presented Irish and Celtic subjects.  From the beginning, the objective was to create a different kind of Library from those found throughout the Second Life Grid.

Founder Derry McMahon spent considerable time visiting and observing libraries throughout the English-speaking grid.  She found that most were lovely builds, with copious linkage to internet library resources and public domain literature, often issued on notecards.  There was rarely any meaningful traffic in these locations, nor any regular programming to create such traffic.  

Ms. McMahon, who possesses a Master of Library Sciences in the real world, believed fundamentally that “avatars do not read books,” and questioned why a person would log into Second Life to read a classic novel on a notecard, or to look for significant links already available by searching in any standard search engine. She believed that a virtual library should tie into the greatest core strength of virtual worlds: that humans are essentially social creatures.  She formed the new library in West of Ireland as one based on activity, not on artifice.  So while some texts are available at Seanchai Library, the main thrust of the library’s focus was on sharing stories live, in voice.  She believed the intimacy of a well read, or well told, story adds a dimension and depth to the story/literature experience, without sacrificing the imagination of the listener.

In 2010 a radical shift in the leadership at West of Ireland led the library program to accept an invitation from the Community Virtual Library Estate in Second Life to move operations there.  The program was already self-sustaining within the Estate, and had established a track record of consistent quality programming, and traffic generation.  In September of 2010 the program closed at the West of Ireland Library site on a Thursday, and re-opened the following Sunday at Info Island International in the Community Virtual Library (CVL) Estate as Seanchai Library.  The re-branded name is a nod to our beginnings in Second Life, and to our commitment to promoting stories and literature through live voice presentations. 

In May 2014, Seanchai Library expanded its operations to the Kitely grid on the OpenSim (Hypergrid) Metaverse, allowing Seanchai programs to be made available and accessible to a variety of interested people across a wide range of virtual grids.  

In January 2015, Seanchai Library piloted the EXPLORE program in Kitely. The program is being developed to build partnerships with educational and arts institutions to use virtual platforms as tools for audience development, education, exploration, dramturgy, and more. To date, three such programs have been produced, with more in the planning stages pending funding.

In March 2015, Seanchai Library opened a branch in Inworldz at the invitation of the Community Library.

The Second Life Main Branch of Seanchai Library relocated in June of 2017 to take up residence on the southeast corner of Holly Kai Park in the vast Blake Sea Estates, as part of the integrated arts programming at the Park.  Seanchai continues to work cooperatively with a number of like-intended groups across the SL grid.

The first story was presented on March 22, 2008, and today Seanchai continues to be among the most consistently active venues in Second Life for the presentation of stories and literature, bearing out the wisdom of Ms. McMahon’s concept of a library based on the Celtic tradition of oral presentation of stories and literature – the rich legacy of the Bard and the Seanchai.  

1 comment:

Pat said...

Fascinating history. Thanks for all of the work you do in multiple virtual worlds. Wish more of us shared your energy, commitment and visiion.