Defining a library in Second Life

With the advent of the world wide web,  we are struggling to redefine the library or hold onto our traditional library in this changing environ of information overload.  Add to that another complexity of the emerging virtual worlds.  Some claim that the virtual worlds will be the next wave of the internet.  If we haven’t yet developed a widely accepted image of ourselves in Web 2.0, how do we deal with the emerging VEs?  Do we transplant the brick and mortar services and library model to the virtual world, do we need to develop a completely new model, or a combination of the new and the old?

Perhaps we need to begin with a more basic question.  How will virtual worlds redefine the way people perceive, use, and find information?   I am a strong  believer that we need to change the library services to fit the patron, not change the patron to fit our exalted view of the library.  We are after all, just a few, granted a brilliant few, but they are so very many.

One possible method would be to examine how the internet has changed perceptions and assume VEs will do something similar, but you know what they say about assume.  It is still worth examining.  Much of what does happen, if VEs do indeed have an impact, will be built upon the foundation that is the web.

The internet has changed people’s perception of information, and as a consequence, how they want to receive and find information.  For example, thanks to a Tweet by Joe Murphy, I found out about a Handheld Librarian Online Conference. What a fantastic idea!  I plan on attending and seeing how the information from the conference would extrapolate to a virtual world.

The point is, the information came to me via a social network.  I suppose it is relative though.  If you take it down to the base level, the information came to me via ‘word-of-mouth.’ Is that a change in how we find information or simply technology enhancing a system that is as old as speech itself?  Are we too quick to dismiss the old because it is, well, old?

One way the internet has changed users expectations is that they want information to be found intuitively almost as if the search engine knows how to ask the question for them.  I envision the search engine of the future to act as a reference librarian and conduct a reference interview.

SEARCHER types: Chile

ENGINE responds: Do you want the food or the country?


This has been a very long and round-a-bout way of saying that I think before we can begin to truly define a library in a virtual environment, we need to define information in a virtual environment.  How will it be used?  How will it be found? For are the users looking?  As part of our grant, we will conduct a survey which we hope will if not answer some of these questions, at least shed some light on some possible answers.  I will post a link after the survey is approved.


~ by jenymn on June 19, 2009.

One Response to “Defining a library in Second Life”

  1. […] One librarian devotes a blog to her online world and recently had an interesting post about defining a library in Second Life.  Interesting stuff!  She ends the blog post with questions for which a survey is being […]

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