On February 5, after not being able to connect to DU MOO
for a couple of days, I emailed the member of the community whose
campus hosted the MOO. In return, I received this sad news:
“Yes, DU was attacked a little over a week ago seriously
compromising the university network. In talking with the
system folks at Marshall [University], Tom and I have
determined that perhaps our best move at this point—
particularly in light of the fact that we do not have the technical
support necessary to keep the system updated and secure, is to put DU to rest."
A MOO is a virtual space that not only allows people to
communicate in real time, but also provides a programming
language so that its inhabitants can create objects and modify
their spaces. DU (Diversity University) MOO was created in
1992, before there was a graphical interface associated with
the Internet, to provide an educational virtual space. It consists
of a database that contains all the objects and a server that
allows the database to run.
I entered the MOO world in early 1994. In Novermber of
that year, Cathy Bennett and I, library science students at the
time, were talking about the demands that the Internet placed
on librarians; suddenly, with minimal training, they were
expected to become net experts. And the idea of the Librarians
Online Support Team (L.O.S.T.) was born.
One of the continuing projects undertaken by L.O.S.T. was
the sponsorship of free, on-line professional development
workshops and seminars available to library personnel with
Internet telnet capability. Librarians did not need to leave their
homes or worksites to take part in these sessions. Participants
logged onto DU’s live virtual campus environment from their home or work computer.
Our first workshop took place on April 3, 1995. The topic
was “Using Gopher and the Internet in Reference Work,” led
by Linda Warden, reference and interlibrary loan librarian at
the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Library
in Washington, D.C. Looking at the list of workshops on the
L.O.S.T. web page (admin:gnacademy.org:8001/lost/projects.html), you can trace the progression of information
technology. Does anyone still use gopher as a reference tool
A year later, in April 1996, we had a session with Betty
Turlock, then president of ALA. She had this to say about the Communications Decency Act:
“ALA is the lead plaintiff in a suit challenging the
constitutionality of the CDA. It makes it a crime punishable by
imprisonment and fines up to $100,000 for transmitting even
inadvertently information to minors that is considered indecent.
The problem is that indecent is a vague term." Is this a new
A number of Connecticut librarians participated in L.O.S.T.
sessions. Arlene Bielefield offered “Let’s Talk About Copyright:
A Librarian’s Guide to Current Issues and Concerns” at the
Novbember 1995 workshop. Our last session occurred in March
1999, when the topic was “Library Services and Instruction
for Distance Learners.” One of the presenters was Emily
Chasse of Central Connecticut State University. What was
amazing was the fact that the other two presenters were
from Florida. But we all gathered in one virtual room.
Currently, the logs from those sessions are not available. I
hope to have them recovered and posted to the L.O.S.T. web
site. I wonder if the concerns that related to distance learning
in 1999 will have changed in 2006.
At the CLA conference in April 1998, we presented a
workshop entitled, “Librarian: Train Thyself! Follow L.O.S.T.
into Cyberspace!” Using an Internet connection and projector,
we met several librarians from around the US who
demonstrated how DU MOO could be used as a platform for
training. Among them were Diane Kovacs, Internet consultant
and web trainer; Rick Gates, who founded the Internet Hunt,
for those of you who remember those days of Gopher,
Veronica, and Archie; and several other folks.
During the winter of 1995, while planning our L.O.S.T.
workshops, we saw a notice for a mini-conference at Syracuse
University entitled, “Beyond the Hype.” I was listed as the
presenter and another member of our team also attended.
Part of our point was to demonstrate the role of teamwork
across distances that could be obtained by using the MOO.
While working in the library on DU, I was approached by
someone who needed help with a brand new IPL (Internet
Public Library) MOO. As IPL MOO was developed, there was
a link between thetwo moos; someone in either one could
communicate via the “reference desk” with someone in the
other. Although the MOO is gone from IPL, it was one of the
first online reference services. Today we have more
sophisticated 24/7 services.
DU MOO provided exposure to brand new technology and
ideas. As the Internet became graphical, a graphical interface
for DU was developed called Cup-O Mud. Although DU is now
gone, this interface is still in use elsewhere.
Besides sponsoring workshops, L.O.S.T. attempted to build
an online community of librarians williing to share their expertise
and experience with others. This theme of community, as well
as the tools that enable people to share and teach, runs through
my work in the MOO world. Many of the contacts from around
the world that I made at DU MOO still exist. We communicate
via email, other MOOs, and have some great memories. The
death of DU has made us more aware than ever of the
changes in information technology over the past 12 years.
Just think of where we are headed!
Isabel Danforth is director of library services, International
College of Hospitality Management, Suffield.